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Building a Stronger Back with Seated Rows: Tips and Variations

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Building a Stronger Back with Seated Rows: Tips and Variations

What are Seated Cable Rows?

A strong upper body not only improves posture but also safeguards your shoulders and reduces the risk of injury. If you are interested in building your upper body strength, you can perform seated rows. According to Doctor Laskowski, it is a compound exercise that you can do with the help of a horizontal cable row machine that works for the back and upper arms.

You can also perform seated rows with a resistance band, which effectively strengthens and tones your upper body, essential for everyday movements that involve pulling. This shows that having a strong upper body also improves posture, protects your shoulders, and reduces your risk of injury.

seated rows

Importance of Seated Rows

Seated rows play a key role in enhancing the strength of the upper body and helping to shape the overall body. By including the seated rows in your fitness workout, you can achieve a powerful physique. In this article, we will tell you how seated rows can help you to get a healthier and stronger upper body.

Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince

Muscles Targeted by Seated Rows

Specifically, it targets the muscles in your upper back and the latissimus dorsi a muscle on the outer side of the chest wall. Below is the list of muscles mainly targeted by the seated rows

  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius (Upper and Lower)
  • Erector Spinae
  • Biceps and Triceps
  • Deltoids (Posterior)
  • Brachialis and Brachioradialis
  • Core Muscles

Seated rows mainly target these muscle groups which help to gain effective upper body workout, promoting strength, stability, and posture.

Seated rows

Seated Rows Benefits

It is a pulling exercise that works for the back muscles, especially for the latissimus dorsi. Here are a few of the benefits of performing this exercise.

Works for multiple muscle groups

Seated rows engage a variety of muscle groups throughout your body, including the latissimus dorsi in your middle back, rhomboids in your upper back, erector spinae muscles, and the lower trapezius. This exercise also utilizes the biceps and triceps as stabilizers during the movement.

Encourages good posture

When performed with proper form, Seated Rows promote better muscle development for everyday posture. Maintain a straight back and bent knees for optimal results.

Puts less strain on your lower back

Compared to other compound exercises like bench presses, barbell rows, and deadlifts, seated rows place less stress on your lower back. They emphasize the upper back muscles while minimizing lower back strain.

Enhanced Pulling Strength

The seated row is a compound exercise that helps to strengthen the muscles involved in the various pulling movements such as lifting heavy objects, performing pull-ups, and other daily activities.  


Seated rows can be done with the help of various equipment like resistance bands, a seated row machine, or a seated cable row machine, allowing you to tailor the exercise to your specific fitness goals.

How to do standard seated rows

seated rows

Seated rows are usually performed with a close grip but if you want to focus on arm muscles and smaller back muscles instead of lats then you can use a wide grip.

Proper setup and starting position

  1. Sit straight on the bench and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. Grasp the cable attachment with both hands.
  3. Position yourself with your knees slightly bent.
  4. Extend your arms to grab the handle or cable.
  5. Move your shoulders back and down.
  6. Brace your core for stability.

Execution of the concentric and eccentric phases

  1. Begin the exercise by pulling the handle towards you.
  2. Bend your elbows and focus on targeting the middle to upper back.
  3. Keep your back straight or in a neutral position.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row, and push your chest out.
  5. Pause for one second at the peak of the rowing motion.

Breathing techniques during the exercise

  1. Inhale as you start pulling the handle towards you during the concentric phase (the part where you bring the weight towards your body).
  2. Exhale as you return the handle forward, slowly extending your arms under tension to reach a full stretch during the eccentric phase (the part where you return to the starting position).

Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, ensuring that you maintain proper form and control throughout the movement.

Common Mistakes You Should Avoid?

If you’re interested in performing seated rows then you should avoid these errors to get the most from this exercise and prevent strain.

Rounded Back

Always remember while doing this exercise your back should be straight at all times, not bent. You can also flex slightly at the hip to allow for a full range of motion.

Moving Torso

You should avoid the movement of the torso. Always use your arms for the motion. Keep your torso still throughout the exercise.

Too Fast on Return

Control the weight during the return to the starting position, avoiding sudden movements.

Partial range of motion

Ensure each rep goes through a full range of motion to work your muscles effectively. A reduced range of motion or partial range of motions lets you lift more weight, partially extending your arms won’t properly work your muscles.

Locked knees

Keep your knees slightly bent, as locking them can stress the joints.

Variations of Seated Rows

Seated row workouts can be performed in different ways to meet your needs and goals. You have to start with light weights if you are a beginner. As your body adapts, you will be able to add more weight. There is a lot of variation while doing this exercise.

One-arm cable rows

In one arm cable row, swap out the V-grip for a handle, you can hold this in one hand to encourage your body to do all the work. This helps to ensure that your stronger side is not doing the bulk of work which will entrench strength imbalances in the body.

  • Keep one hand by your side when you hold the handle in another hand, with your arms outstretched in front of you.
  • Pull the handle below your navel,
  • Do not allow your torso to rotate, and then allow the handle to come to the starting position.
  • Resisting the rotation in this exercise will work your core harder than in the two-arm cable row.

Seated face pull

Seated face pull is another cable machine exercise that will bulk up shoulders and back. This exercise is performed while standing but the seated version of this exercise helps you to do this exercise with more weight.

  • On the high attachment set up a cable machine with a double rope handle.
  • Hold this attachment in both hands with an overhand grip and your arms must be outstretched in front of you.
  • Now pull the handle towards yourself so that the two rope handles go either side of your face. After this return to the initial position by keeping tension in the cable.

Seated rows with dumbbell

A seated dumbbell row is an isolated single-joint exercise that will target your upper and middle back.

  • Start with the seated position with the help of a dumbbell in both hands while your palms facing each other.
  • Bend yourself slightly forward at your hips.
  • Keep your shoulder blades together while simultaneously driving elbows past your back as you pull the dumbbells to your sides.
  • Now take a pause and slowly return the weight to the initial position.

Remember to start with lighter weights if you’re a beginner and gradually increase the weight as your body adapts to the exercise.

Tips to Maximize the Results

Always remember,

Strength does not come from the physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will

To maximize the results of your Seated Rows and make the most of this effective upper-body exercise, consider these tips

Maintain Proper Form

You must keep the proper form while performing seated rows. Try to keep your back straight, chest out, and shoulders down to effectively target the muscles. Try to avoid rounding your upper back.

Focus on the Full Range of Motion

Pull the handle or cable all the way to your torso during each repetition to engage a broader range of muscles.

Progressive Overload

Gradually increase the weight or resistance as your strength improves to continuously challenge your muscles and stimulate growth.

Control the Tempo

Perform the exercise with controlled movements, avoiding momentum, to maximize muscle tension and engagement.

Balanced Training

Combine Seated Rows with complementary exercises to ensure a well-rounded upper-body workout routine.

Frequently Asked Question


The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen

The seated row is a compound exercise that provides you the path to get a stronger upper body and improved posture. Seated rows can be performed with the help of various equipment like resistance bands, a seated row machine, or a seated cable row machine. Remember that consistency provides you with a way to fulfill your dreams of having a well-defined upper body. Therefore, if you want strong and improved back muscles then keep rowing, keep growing, and embrace the transformation that is waiting for you.

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