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Cable Pullover [Exercise Guide]

cable pullover

What Is Cable Pullover

In brief, it’s a terrific standing cable workout that targets the lats and some stabilizing muscles in the back and core. Usually, this movement is utilized as an auxiliary to heavier back workouts like pull-ups and barbell bent-over rows. The shoulder extension lies at the base of the movement’s technique. And to practice it, you are going to need a cable machine.

What Muscles Does Cable Pullover Work

The cable pullover primary works the following muscle groups:

  • latissimus dorsi
  • triceps (the long head) 
  • pecs
  • teres major
  • rhomboids
  • posterior delts

Core muscles (the rectus abdominis and the obliques) are involved as stabilizers.

How To Perform Cable Pullover

Step 1. Set up the cable machine

Choose an appropriate attachment and hook it on the top section of the cable machine. Pick the most comfortable bar. You might use V-bar or a straight bar.

Step 2. Get into the starting position

Grab the bar with your arms fully extended and take a few steps back, placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Your upper body should be bent forward at 45 degrees. Hinge your hips back and bend your knees a little bit. Push your shoulder blades forward to make your lats completely stretched.

Step 3. Begin the concentric motion

Pull the bar down and back towards the torso, initiating the movement by squeezing the lats. Drive the elbows towards your hips. The bar’s trajectory should be a bit arched. The elbows get more bent as you go to the bottom part of the movement.

Step 4. Go back

Push your shoulder blades forward and return to the starting position. Focus on controlling the weight and pumping your lats.

Advantages oF Cable Pullover

Grows Your Strength

Thanks to the isolation of latissimus dorsi, a cable pullover can help you build and grow that area, enhancing its strength. Also, the exercise loads latissimus dorsi through the shoulder extension. It’s a rare case for most workouts. And finally, a cable machine guarantees the constant tension put on your muscles, contributing to strength gain.

Develops Stability

Core muscles work and support lifting muscles during all the phases. This fact leads to developing your overall stability. It’s a crucial skill for many workouts. By developing your stability, you can lift more weight, reduce the chance of injury, move more quickly, and perform better.

Flexibility Improvement

As you practice the cable pullover exercise, you feel a nice stretch in the targeted muscles. It means you are making those muscles more flexible. Also, the move tests weak links in the flexibility as you go from the movement’s top to the bottom. In the end, your body will let you know what you should work on.

5 Cable Pullover alternatives


The pull-up is an advanced exercise that focuses on building strength in the upper body. It loads lats, biceps, teres major, rhomboids, and forearms.

How to do pull-ups:

  • To begin, you should be hanging from the bar in a fully extended position.
  • Grab the bar with your hands just outside the breadth of your shoulders.
  • Raise your chest to the highest point you can. Start the pull by pushing your elbows all the way down.
  • Go back to the start.

Dumbbell Pullover 

In addition to working your back muscles, the dumbbell row also targets your chest, core, glutes, lower back, and triceps, so it’s an excellent all-around upper body exercise.

How to do dumbbell pullover:

  • Sit down on the floor and lean on the edge of the bench.
  • Grab a dumbbell with both hands and put it on your chest.
  • Bridge up, squeezing your glutes. Your shoulder blades should rest comfortably on the bench, and your feet stand firmly on the ground. The head will dangle a little bit off the bench.
  • Pull the dumbbell over your head. Stay in this fully stretched position for a few seconds.
  • Bring the dumbbell back in front of you. That’s one rep.

Chest Supported Row 

The chest-supported row is a compound exercise that primarily works with lats and rhomboids. The rear delts come into play at the end of each rep. The posterior deltoid and teres major are involved too.

How to do chest supported row:

  • With the dumbbells in your hands, lean your upper body against the incline bench.
  • Your head should be erect while you rest on your stomach. Your hands and legs should be in contact with the bench on each side.
  • Row up while keeping your elbows bent. It is essential to keep your lats and mid-back in close contact while you raise your arms.
  • Slowly and gently place your hands in the beginning position.

Pendlay Row 

The Pendlay row is a bodybuilding exercise designed by Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay. It targets many muscular groups, including the lats, rhomboids, biceps, glutes, hamstrings, and rear deltoids.

How to do Pendlay row:

  • Put safety clips on the bar and make sure it’s equally weighted.
  • Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and bending over. To bend correctly, push your hips back.
  • You should try to keep your shins as upright as possible. The barbell should be in the middle of your feet.
  • Grab the bar using an overhand grip. Pull shoulder blades together to raise the weight.
  • After touching your sternum, slowly lower the bar. When the bar strikes the ground, you’ve completed one rep.

Ice Cream Maker 

The exercise targets arms, abs, and lats simultaneously. The reason behind the workout’s name is the trajectory reminds of the ice cream maker’s moves. The only equipment piece you need is a horizontal bar.

How to do Ice cream maker:

  • Grab the horizontal bar with a neutral grip.
  • Pull yourself up to chin height.
  • Make a straight line with your body.
  • Lift your feet off the floor and bring your body back to a parallel position with your arms straight out in front of you.
  • As you re-establish your balance, do a downward rotation with your feet.

If you are having trouble with the technique, make similar rotation moves with bend knees.


What muscles does the cable pullover target?

The cable pullover loads lats, triceps, pecs, teres major, rhomboids, posterior delts, and core muscles.

What exercises can replace cable pullovers?

If you don’t have a cable machine or just want to find a worthy alternative, try pull-ups, chest rows, and dumbbell pullovers.


A cable pullover is a strength exercise, focusing on the most significant back muscle – latissimus dorsi. Due to muscle isolation, constant tension, and an extensive range of motion, this movement can help you make your back wider and stronger. The movement increases stability and mobility. Also, it has many variations if you can’t use a cable machine.