Cobra Back Workout Exercises (Stronger & Leaner Back)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 24, 2023
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As a certified personal trainer and bodybuilding coach, I’m always surprised at how many people don’t pay enough attention to their back muscles. And anyone who has neglected this muscle group can significantly benefit from Cobra back workouts.

To help you better plan this exercise, I got together with four other personal trainers and tested out a new approach.

And seven clients who went through this program completely transformed their bodies with these targeted exercises. It’s all about lower weights, the ideal range of motion, and getting to failure.

Let me explain.

Quick Summary

  • The Cobra back exercise routine involves high volumes of reps with a strict focus on quality movements like different types of rows and pulldowns.
  • With a focus on the quality and range of motion of the movement, you can gain ridiculous amounts of muscle in a lot less time.
  • There are also some supplements that can help you get more out of this exercise program by boosting your endurance a bit more.

5 Most Effective Cobra Exercises For Back Muscles

Doing cobra back workout for the back

You’re going to be doing a ridiculous amount of reps, so don’t choose your regular weight load for these exercises.

Seated Cable Rows

Set up the cable machine and seat so that you feel comfortable and are fully supported.

Take note of the weights you want to use for different sets, and keep your resting time to less than 45 seconds between sets.

  • Set 1: Pick a lighter weight and do 20 reps while focusing on doing the full movement correctly and try to engage your abs.
  • Set 2: Add a few pounds and complete 15 reps, with the last ones hurting.
  • Set 3–7: Gradually move the weight stack pin by one position for these five sets and lower the reps from 15 down to 10.

Related: How to Do Cable Upright Row

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Wide grip lat pulldown workout

For this exercise, it’s all about the lats, and you want to take a similar approach as the first one.

You can also switch grips to make the effect of pulling slightly different during the workout, as variety will help your body build more mass [1].

Here’s what it looks like: 

  • Set 1: Choose a lower weight and do 20 reps to feel your lats and shoulders warming up.
  • Set 2: Increase the weight so that you can only complete 12 reps.
  • Set 3: Increase the weight again and aim to be able to only complete 10 reps.
  • Set 4: Now you’re down to just eight reps with another load increase.
  • Set 5: Use the same weight from the previous set, but once you get to eight reps, switch to a different grip and try to do two more.

“Strengthening your back obviously has aesthetic benefits, but, more importantly, it’s imperative for better daily function, including posture and preventing injury.”

- Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT


Barbell Rows

You want to use overhand grips for this exercise to work better on your shoulders.

Here is the breakdown of the workout sets:

  • Set 1: Warm up with 20 reps and a lighter load
  • Set 2: Aim to reach failure after a maximum of 15 reps.
  • Set 3: Increase the load and reach failure after 12 reps.
  • Set 4: Now you’re heading further towards completing only eight reps.
  • Set 5: Complete eight reps with the same load as the previous set, drop a bit of weight, and do another three reps.


Performing chin ups

This workout will also target muscles in your arms for an overall better upper-body physique.

Here are the sets broken down:

  • Set 1–3: Do as many reps as you can as long as you perform them properly.
  • Set 4–6: If you used an underhand grip in the first sets, then switch to an overhand grip in these.
  • Set 7–9: Complete as many chin-ups as possible for speed.

Cable Bar Rows

Use a straight bar to get more flexibility with a wider grip than the regular rowing attachments provide.

  • Set 1: Grip the bar as wide as possible and complete 20 reps to warm up and feel the difference while flexing your elbows.
  • Set 2–8: Choose a weight that will allow you to complete 12–15 reps and do seven back-to-back sets with as little rest time as possible to increase the intensity [2].


How Do You Train a Cobra Muscle?

You train the cobra muscle with highly targeted movements that activate the lats and shoulders. It’s also best to do a high volume of reps, with each set bringing you to failure.

Is Cobra Back Good?

Yes, cobra back is a good way to strengthen your muscles. Many bodybuilders who neglect their backs or have hit a plateau in bulking will find that this approach will transform their physique.


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