High Cable Row: How To Do, Muscle Worked and Benefits

Tired of doing the same old rows day in and day out? It’s time to switch things up with the high cable row.

The high cable row is an effective exercise for building your back muscles and increasing overall upper body strength.

It not only targets your upper back muscles, but also engages your core and improves your posture.

In this guide, we’ll break down all aspects of the high row, so you can get the most out of it.

  • What is high cable row?
  • Muscle worked during cable high row
  • How to perform the high rows properly
  • Best variations
  • Tip and Techniques.

What Is High Cable Row

The high cable row is an upper body exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the middle and upper back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids.

It is done using a cable machine with an adjustable pulley that is set at a high position. The exercise involves pulling the cable towards your body while keeping a straight back and engaging your core muscles.

To target back muscle from different angles, this exercise can be performed in various ways.

  • Using different grips positions
  • Using different attachments

You can use different loads to put constant tension on your muscles for bigger gains.

Different Attachment Used For High Cable Row Exercise

  • V-bar attachment
  • Wide D Handle Row Bar
  • Straight bar
  • Rope
  • D Handle

High Cable Row Benefits

  • Strengthens back muscles, including the rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids
  • It helps to improve posture by engaging the core muscles and providing a full-body workout.
  • Increases range of motion in the shoulder joints, which can improve overall mobility.
  • High row can be easily modified by adjusting the cable height and using different grips.
  • It helps to prevent boredom by adding variety to your workout routine.
  • Improves upper body strength, which can be used in other exercises, like pull-ups and bench presses.
  • Provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints.
  • Improve sports performance by strengthening and stabilizing the upper body. This can help you do things like rowing, swimming, and throwing better.

Muscle Worked During High Cable Row

The cable high row is a compound exercise, which means it works many muscles at the same time. 

The main muscles worked during high row are:

Muscle Worked During High Cable Row

Secondary muscles worked during the rows:

Antagonist Muscle worked: Chest, Triceps, Front deltoid.

The muscle groups in the legs as either accessory dynamic movement stabilizers or as simple static support stabilizers.

1. Standing High Cable Row

The standing cable high row is a very effective and functional exercise for building muscle and strength in the upper back and rear deltoids.

This movement also hits the traps, rhomboids, and biceps.

It is usually performed for at least 8–12 sets of moderate to high reps, as part of an upper-body or shoulder-focused workout.

Standing cable rear delt row with rope

How To Do Standing Cable Rear Delt Row With Rope

  1. Attach a double-grip rope to a cable pulley about mid-chest level.
  2. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand and step backward until the rope is pulled taut and your arms and shoulders are stretched forward.
  3. Keep your lower back upright and slide your hips back so that your knees are slightly bent.
  4. Keeping your elbows out to the sides, exhale as you pull the rope towards your shoulders until your elbows travel passed your back.
  5. Slowly return the rope to the starting position.


  • Retract your shoulder blades to keep your rear delts engaged during the exercise.
  • Pull the rope outward during the positive portion of the rep, so your elbows are flared out, which will really stimulate the rear deltoids.
  • Maintaining the right posture while working out is extremely important.

2. Kneeling Cable High Row

Half kneeling high cable row rope is a tremendous exercise that effectively works many muscles, including the shoulder, back, wing and trapezius muscles.

Using this exercise gives people with shoulder issues an exercise to get the benefits of rows.

In addition, it is one of the most effective corrective exercises that help compensate for poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.

Cable High Row

How To Do

  1. Set the cable up at a high point with the rope attachments
  2. Grab the rope with both hands using an overhand grip, then take a step back and get onto knees facing the cable machine
  3. Starting with your arms stretched out and away, pull back through your elbows until your hands are just in front of your shoulders
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for desired reps.


  • Don’t lean backwards to pull the weight towards you.
  • Focus on the mind-muscle connection to pull down by using your back muscles.

3. One Arm Cable Twisting Standing High Row

One arm standing high cable row is a unilateral cable exercise, you will have to engage your core throughout the movement.

You can use this same exercise with different hand placements to target upper or lower back muscles.

Besides being a great cable back exercise, this movement also works your hips, glutes and other lower body muscles.

Cable Twisting Standing Row

How To Do Single Arm Standing High Cable Row

  1. Attach a single grip handle to an elbow-high cable pulley.
  2. Step back and get into a staggered stance, knees slightly bent. Your arm should be out straight and your waist is rotated towards the cable.
  3. Keeping your elbow close to your body, pull back towards your waist while rotating your waist to the same direction
  4. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, then slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat desired reps.


  • Make sure the rotation is in your waist, not hips. You can place your inactive hand on your other hip for added stability.
  • To make the most of this move, your reps should be slow and controlled.

4. Kneeling One Arm Cable High Row

The kneeling one arm cable row is a great exercise for strengthening your back muscles, improving your posture, and engaging your core muscles.

Kneeling movements train your body to create stability in areas where most people have deficiencies, such as the core and the hips.

Kneeling One arm cable row

How To Do Cable Kneeling One Arm High Row

  1. Attach a cable to a medium or high pulley.
  2. Get down on your right knee and face the cable about 3 feet away.
  3. Grab the handle with your right hand, palm facing in, and let your arm hang forward.
  4. Pull it towards your waist, keeping your elbow close to your body.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a second at the end of the movement.
  6. Slowly lower the cable back to the starting position, and repeat for the desired number of reps.
  7. Switch to the other arm and repeat the exercise.


  • Keep your back straight, and avoid arching or rounding your back.
  • Keep your elbow close to your body.
  • Slowly lower the cable back to the starting position, and avoid any sudden movements.

Variations And Modification To Change Intensity

You can modify your high cable rows to match your fitness level.

Make It Easier

If you are new to performing a high row, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier

  • Start with a light weight and low reps.
  • Once you can do the exercise with perfect form, increase the weight and reps.

Make It Harder

When you’ve mastered form and can complete the exercise, it’s time to challenge yourself with variations.

Try these modifications if you want to work different muscle fibers in the back or if your high rows are too easy.

  • You can pull the cable with one arm at a time, or you can pull it with one arm along the side of your body.
  • At the end of the pulling phase, pause for 3 to 5 seconds to challenge your muscles.

Common Mistakes To Avoid During High Cable Row

It’s important to do the exercise correctly to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.

Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when doing cable high row.

1. Using too much weight

Use a weight that you can handle comfortably and with good form.

Using too much weight can cause you to lose form, leading to a potential injury.

2. Hunching your back

Keep your back straight while you do the exercise.

Hunching your back can lead to a strain on your lower back.

3. Pulling the weight too high

Even though the exercise is called a high cable row, it’s important to avoid pulling the weight too high.

Over-pulling the weight can cause shoulder impingement and other shoulder injuries.

4. Using Momentum

To fully activate your muscles, you should perform each rep slowly. It is best to avoid rapid and jerky movements.

5. Not fully extending your arms

Make sure you fully extend your arms at the end of the movement.

Not doing so can cause undue stress on your elbows and forearms.

Best Alternatives Of High Cable Row

If you’re looking for a similar exercise to replace the cable high row during your training sessions, you can try these alternatives.

High Cable Row vs face pull

  • The high cable row involves pulling the cable towards the upper chest, while the face pull involves pulling the cable towards the face with the elbows pointed out to the sides.
  • Both exercises target the upper back muscles, but the high row primarily targets the rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids, while the face pull emphasizes the rear deltoids and upper back muscles such as the rotator cuff and lower trapezius.
  • The high cable row requires more core activation to maintain a stable posture throughout the movement, while the face pull is less demanding on the core muscles.

High cable row vs lat pulldown

  • During the high cable row, the cable pulls towards the upper chest while standing upright, while during the lat pulldown, the bar or handles are pulled towards the chest while seated.
  • The high cable row also focuses primarily on the rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids, while the lat pulldown focuses primarily on the lats.
  • Compared to the high row, the lat pulldown is often performed with heavier weights, which may make it a better choice for building overall back strength.
  • The high cable row requires more core activation to maintain a stable posture, while the lat pulldown targets the upper back muscles.


Is the high cable row suitable for beginners?

Yes, It is suitable for beginners to do the high cable row.

Beginners can start with a lighter weight and focus on mastering proper form.

What muscles does the high cable row work?

The high cable row primarily targets the muscles of the upper back, including the rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids.

It also engages the bicep and core muscles.

Can the high cable row be performed at home?

Yes, you can do the high cable row at home if you have resistance bands.

Resistance bands can be anchored to a door frame or other sturdy object, and the movement can be performed in the same way as with a cable machine.

Resistance band high cable row


High cable row is a great exercise for targeting the muscles in the upper back and improving posture.

There are different handle attachments available for cable row, and the grip you use can target different muscles.

So next time you hit the gym, don’t forget to add the high row to your routine for a stronger upper body.

20 Best Cable Back Exercises To Build Mass and Strength

Leave a Comment