Do the Seated Cable Row for a Greater Again

Again workouts are available in two fundamental patterns: vertical, or overhead, pulls, just like the traditional pull-up, and horizontal rows. Many lifters are accustomed to customary pull-ups, chin-ups, and pulldowns, however the wide range of rows requires extra particular consideration.

The seated cable row presents distinct benefits over barbells, dumbbells, or different machines. The mix of physique place, leverage, and distinctive resistance from cable pulleys make the train a wonderful muscle-builder when utilizing correct type to focus on the a number of again muscle groups.

Right here’s an in depth information to performing the extremely efficient seated cable row and programming tricks to construct a muscular, highly effective again.

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Do the Seated Cable Row 

The seated cable row could, at first, seem daunting. Usually the machine consists of a protracted bench with a deal with attachment on one aspect, an imposing weight stack, and never a lot in the way in which of dependable steerage.

Extra so than many different workouts within the gymnasium, the seated cable row can’t usually be realized by standing non-creepily within the nook of the gymnasium watching one other lifter do their set. The number of deal with choices, versatile pulling angles, and prevalence of plain previous dangerous type make it onerous to know who to copy to get the outcomes you’re after.

Right here’s an easy plan to study fundamental and efficient approach for the seated cable row.

Step 1 — Take a Seat

Man in gym performing back exercise
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Discover a “V”-shaped attachment with vertical grips which permit your fingers to face one another. Clip the bar to the cable hook and sit on the bench along with your legs bent and each toes on the platform.

Seize the handles, tighten your core, straighten your again, and lengthen your arms till they’re almost locked out. Press towards the foot platform to very barely increase your glutes off the bench. Straighten your legs, feeling muscular stress by your complete physique. When the load lifts off the stack and your physique strikes backwards barely, decrease your glutes to the bench and guarantee a tense, vertical higher physique.

Your legs ought to be stiff with a slight bend. Your straight arms ought to be supporting the load by the cable attachment. In case your arms are almost straight however the weight will not be but lifted from the stack, you’re too shut. Repeat the method to reposition your physique barely farther again.

Kind Tip: Some lifters could take a faster setup by merely grabbing the deal with, putting one foot on the platform whereas standing, after which “plopping” their physique down onto the bench to lift the load.

This no-frills course of will increase stress on the hips, low again, and shoulder joints as a result of impression of dropping from a standing place whereas supporting extra weight (by way of the cable attachment). It additionally doesn’t enable the torso to stay in a well-supported place, which exposes the low again to extra potential stress.

Step 2 — Row Your Elbows In

Muscular man in gym performing back row exerciseMuscular man in gym performing back row exercise
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Press your toes into the platform with out straightening your legs. Pull the bar into your mid-ab space till it touches barely above your stomach button. All through the motion, your higher arms ought to goal in direction of the bottom, not in direction of the partitions to both aspect.

Your shoulder blades ought to come collectively as your higher again contracts to assist pull the load. To bolster your higher again engagement, think about puffing your chest out. If you’ve reached peak contraction, your elbows ought to be barely behind your physique and your forearms ought to be close to your ribs.

In the course of the rep, deal with gripping the deal with tightly whereas driving your elbows previous your physique. Hold your torso upright. Your higher physique shouldn’t lean again to “reel in” the load like a swordfish on a constitution boat. Pulling solely along with your arms whereas holding your higher physique vertical ensures the big again muscle groups, not the smaller shoulders muscle groups or lumbar backbone, are receiving the coaching stimulus.

Kind Tip: The main focus for this foundational motion is to maintain the bar at roughly belly-button peak to place nearly all of the again below optimum muscular stress. Quite a few seated cable row variations manipulate the pulling angle to focus stress onto totally different components of the again — pulling to the hips, above chest-level, and so forth. These can be addressed beneath.

Step 3 — Lengthen Your Arms

Shirtless muscular man in gym performing back row exerciseShirtless muscular man in gym performing back row exercise
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After finishing the vary of movement (with the bar touching your abs), reverse the motion by pushing your elbows and decrease arms ahead. Proceed gripping the handles tightly to make sure management of the load. Your shoulder blades ought to naturally lengthen as you attain the top vary of movement. Don’t intentionally “attain” your shoulders ahead, which might expose the shoulder joint to extreme pressure.

Sustaining an upright torso is much more essential in the course of the decreasing section as a result of pulling power of the load stack and potential instability of the decrease again. Resist the urge to lean ahead. Hold regular stress by your toes to have interaction the hamstrings and glutes for added decrease again help. As soon as your arms are almost locked out and your again muscle groups are stretched, pause briefly earlier than pulling the following rep.

Kind Tip: Your legs and higher physique ought to make a basic “L” form throughout your entire rep. In case your higher physique strikes and the angle modifications to extra of a “V”, your decrease again is being recruited to maneuver and decrease the load, which will increase pressure.

Altering your higher physique angle additionally modifications the cable angle relative to your muscle groups as a result of your arms are nearer to an overhead place. This alters muscle recruitment and modifications the train’s effectiveness.

Seated Cable Row Errors to Keep away from

As a result of your higher physique is unsupported throughout every rep of the seated cable row, you could run into widespread errors that may cut back muscle activation and enhance the chance of damage.

Brief Vary of Movement

For optimum muscle recruitment and growth, carry out the seated cable row by pulling the bar till it touches your abs and lengthening till your arms are almost locked out (as a result of the goal muscle is the again, which will be totally stretched earlier than your arms are prolonged).

Lifters usually keep away from the end-range of movement, on both the stretch or the contraction, in an effort to “hold stress on the muscle.” Nevertheless, when utilizing correct type, the muscle is all the time below stress.

Large bodybuilder in gym performing back exerciseLarge bodybuilder in gym performing back exercise
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Utilizing a full vary of movement not solely permits optimum growth, but in addition permits the shoulder and elbow joints to perform utilizing their full mobility. Lifting with a full vary of movement will help to enhance general joint mobility and suppleness. (1)

Keep away from it: Particular person limb lengths could generally require adjusting the seated cable row vary of movement. For instance, a lifter with very lengthy arms could not have the ability to pull far sufficient to the touch the bar to their abs whereas a lifter with quick arms could have bother moving into place whereas elevating the load off the stack.

Except you’re exceptionally tall or exceptionally quick (which would require adapting plenty of workouts to your body), keep the reference level of utilizing full stretch and full contraction on every rep.

Ahead Leaning Torso

Wanting to maneuver the torso forwards and backwards throughout a rep could appear intuitive and should even really feel like a pure motion, but it surely’s counterproductive and exposes the decrease again to added stress with out including vital muscular profit.

Woman in gym performing seated row exerciseWoman in gym performing seated row exercise
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Leaning ahead whereas decreasing the load could seem to extend the workouts vary of movement, and an extended vary of movement can generally result in elevated muscle recruitment. Nevertheless, with the seated cable row, that added vary of movement will not be coming from the goal muscle (the big muscle groups of the again).

The elevated vary of movement is achieved as a result of extra muscle groups, notably the shoulders and higher again, have been recruited. The goal muscle isn’t receiving any additional advantage. You’ll have seen pictures or movies of huge bodybuilders almost touching their toes with the bar in an excessive stretch. Don’t try this. It’s pointless, excessive threat, and low reward.

Keep away from it: Fake there’s a padded backstop jutting up from the seated row bench. Think about holding your hips and decrease again towards the seat when lifting and decreasing the load. Your head, shoulders, and chest ought to stay roughly above your hips all through every rep.

Lifting Too Heavy

Nearly all of seated cable row stations are designed with the load stack dealing with the lifter. This will create a thoughts sport for anybody who over-focuses on shifting essentially the most weight attainable reasonably than shifting an applicable weight to realize the fitting coaching stimulus.

Shirtless muscular man in dark gym performing seated row exerciseShirtless muscular man in dark gym performing seated row exercise
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Regardless that your entire weight stack is staring again at you in the course of the train, by no means really feel as if you’re “solely” lifting a specific amount of weight. For those who’re attaining muscular fatigue within the programmed rep vary, you’re heading in the right direction.

Attempting to make use of an excessive amount of weight is commonly an underlying trigger within the two earlier errors. When the load is just too heavy, you’ll be unable to realize a full peak contraction, so your vary of movement is shortened. An extreme load may pull you ahead out of place, and require swinging the higher physique to make use of momentum, not muscle, to elevate the load.

Keep away from it: As with most workouts, keep away from letting your ego dictate your actions. The seated cable row ought to by no means be an train to aim excessive weights as a result of the physique isn’t aligned for a significant show of power with out risking damage. Observe the units and reps in your routine and keep constant approach to focus on the supposed physique components.

Advantages of the Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row can play a big function in constructing a muscular again with minimal joint pressure. It’s usually one of many first workouts lifters in a house gymnasium try to copy, since its distinctive cable setup requires a devoted workstation. Right here’s why this train is a excessive precedence motion.

Bodybuilder in gym performing back exerciseBodybuilder in gym performing back exercise
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Again Measurement

Seated cable rows are a staple in almost each back-building exercise, and for superb motive. The fixed resistance offered by the cable makes it a extremely efficient strategy to place your again muscle groups below prolonged time below stress, which is the catalyst for extra muscle progress stimulus. (2)

Scale back Decrease Again Stress

The seated cable row delivers fixed stress from the cable pulley together with a steady, lower-back saving physique place (assuming your type is tight). This mixture makes it a really perfect train for lifters unable to carry out different row variations — just like the barbell row — which can enhance pressure on the decrease again because of a less-supported physique place.

The cable’s fixed stress additionally permits lifters to realize a big muscle-building stimulus whereas utilizing comparatively lighter weights. This reduces the cumulative stress on the joints with out compromising hypertrophy (muscle measurement).

Muscular tissues Labored by the Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row, and all rowing variations, will goal a number of muscle groups within the again.

Bodybuilder flexing back and arm musclesBodybuilder flexing back and arm muscles
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The latissimus dorsi, or lats, are what most individuals consider once they consider “a giant, muscular again.” The muscle runs from below the shoulders all the way down to the waist, with the developed muscle being seen below the arms close to the ribs. The lats are labored in the course of the seated cable row when your elbows pull the load in direction of your physique, inflicting a strong contraction on either side of the physique.

Higher Again

The higher again is a collective time period for the a part of the again working from shoulder to shoulder between the neck and shoulder blades. It’s composed of a number of separate muscle groups together with the rear deltoids, teres, rhomboids, and trapezius. These muscle groups are recruited in the course of the seated cable row because the scapulae (shoulder blades) pull inwards whereas elevating the load.


The biceps aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the first muscle shifting the load in a seated cable row, however they’re considerably recruited in the course of the train. When your arm is bent to tug the deal with in direction of your physique, your biceps help within the motion. The smaller forearm and gripping muscle groups additionally help the motion, as they do throughout any sort of “pulling” train.

Who Ought to Do the Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row builds muscle measurement with lowered put on and tear on the decrease again and shoulders. This makes the train priceless for plenty of lifters.

Lifting for Muscle

When a lifters’ purpose is to construct a muscular again, the seated cable row will be invaluable. The cable offers fixed stress which places the muscle below higher general stress in comparison with free weight (barbell or dumbbell) rows, which may lower stress because of gravity affecting leverage in several positions.

Lifters with Again Ache

As a result of the seated cable row permits a lifter to coach successfully while not having vital weight, it’s an efficient possibility for lifters coping with decrease again ache. The cable additionally permits extra adaptable joint positioning in comparison with a rowing machine, making it a greater possibility for lifters with shoulder or elbow ache.

Program the Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row will be programmed with a number of efficient strategies to swimsuit a lifter’s purpose and particular person wants. Because of physique place and needed approach, the train will not be well-suited to extraordinarily heavy, low-rep programming.

Average Weight, Average Repetition

Utilizing a traditional bodybuilding-style method, reaching muscular failure within the 8 to 12 rep vary for 3 or 4 units, is without doubt one of the most typical and simplest methods to program this train.

Gentle-to-Average Weight, Excessive Repetition

The fixed stress of the cables permits lifters to get a big muscle-building impact with out heavy, low-rep loading. Utilizing two to a few units of 12 to twenty reps will be a wonderful exercise to “burn out” the again, notably because the final train of a again exercise when the muscle groups are fatigued from earlier work.

Seated Cable Row Variations

The seated cable row is extraordinarily versatile and plenty of easy, efficient variations will be carried out by merely attaching a distinct deal with and/or pulling the bar to a distinct level of your physique.

Lengthy Bar Attachment

Utilizing a straight pulldown bar, or lengthy bar, permits both a palms-up (supinated) grip or a palms-down (pronated) grip. A supinated grip will activate the biceps to a higher diploma whereas a pronated grip could also be extra comfy in your shoulders, particularly for those who use a wider grip (outdoors shoulder-width).

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A supinated grip additionally permits the consumer to tug the bar extra effectively to the decrease abs or waist, which reduces higher again recruitment and might enhance lat activation. A pronated grip lets you pull the bar a lot increased, to chest or neck-level, which decreases lat recruitment and will increase muscular stress on your entire higher again.

Rope Attachment

Attaching a rope deal with, extra generally used for triceps workouts, enable the wrists to rotate in the course of the motion. This freedom reduces joint stress. The versatile nature of the rope, in comparison with a stable metallic deal with, additionally permits a barely longer vary of movement at peak contraction.

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Just like the lengthy bar, rope rows will be carried out low to the hips for elevated lat stress. The rope attachment is commonly used for pulls to neck or eye-level, appropriately referred to as “face pulls”. This train prioritizes the higher again and shoulder stabilizer muscle groups 

Single-Arm Cable Row

Attaching a single deal with and rowing with one arm at a time presents a number of advantages. Like all unilateral higher physique workouts, the general core activation is elevated, particularly the obliques and rotational stabilizers.

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A single-handle, much like the rope attachment, additionally permits your wrist to freely rotate in the course of the train. This will lower stress on the joints by encouraging the elbow to extra with much less restriction.

The one-arm cable row will also be carried out whereas standing, as a substitute of braced on the bench seat. This particular variation can have extra athletic carryover, because of elevated total-body recruitment. It has additionally been proven to construct vital core power. (3)

Seated Cable Row Alternate options

The seated cable row is very efficient and presents distinctive advantages, however different row variations may present particular coaching results separate from the seated cable.

Barbell Row

The barbell row is taken into account one of many “huge fundamentals” — basic workouts just like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and shoulder press which assist to determine a base of head-to-toe power.

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The barbell row permits lifters to probably transfer vital weight, which may have nice carryover to constructing muscle measurement and uncooked energy. Nevertheless, as a result of physique’s place, the decrease again is put below way more direct stress

Dumbbell Row

The dumbbell row is mostly carried out supporting the physique on a flat bench whereas shifting one dumbbell. Nevertheless, utilizing two dumbbells from a standing place will be one other efficient variation.

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The dumbbell row is an efficient stability of decrease again help whereas additionally offering a full stretch and contraction for a powerful muscle-building stimulus.

Chest-Supported Row

The chest-supported row is without doubt one of the simplest again workouts to drastically cut back decrease again involvement, as a result of the torso is totally supported on a bench and motion is unavoidably strict with no swinging.

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This variation will be carried out on a particular chest-supported row bench or utilizing a pair of dumbbells whereas mendacity chest-down on a bench set to a excessive angle.

Sit, Row, and Develop

Focusing on the bigger again muscle groups with out aggravating the lumbar backbone requires an consideration to element, each in train choice and efficiency. The seated cable row checks all containers and lets you prepare intensely with out extreme pressure. Follow the shape ideas and add the train to your again routine.


Why does my grip fail earlier than my again muscle groups?

It’s not unusual for grip to fatigue throughout many again workouts, as a result of the fingers and forearms are a lot smaller than the bigger, stronger muscle groups of the again. Happily, grip power improves comparatively shortly from constant lifting. Including one or two grip-focused workouts (similar to a farmer’s stroll or pull-up maintain) to your coaching week ought to yield noticeable ends in a short while.

Nevertheless, if grip power continues to interrupt your again exercise, use a pair of lifting straps to safe your grip to the deal with. Make sure to use straps solely when needed, on essentially the most difficult units. Over-relying on lifting straps can find yourself being counterproductive by decreasing grip growth.

Why does my decrease again damage after a set?

Regardless that one advantage of the seated cable row is lowered decrease again pressure, some lifters could not really feel completely comfy with the train relying on their underlying situation.

Inserting the toes in a wider stance on the platform, driving by the heels, and extra actively participating the glutes and hamstrings can all assist to supply maximal help to the decrease again. Making certain a strict upright torso and tense stomach throughout each rep can even cut back pressure.

Ought to I do seated cable rows if I’ve a distinct row in my exercise?

Nearly all of back-focused exercises will embody not less than one “overhead pull”, like a pulldown or pull-up, and not less than one sort of rowing train. The seated cable row offers particular advantages in comparison with rowing with barbells, dumbbells, or machines.

To make sure optimum progress, keep away from performing workouts that are too much like each other. Nevertheless, relying in your general exercise plan, a session which incorporates seated cable rows for average reps and, for instance, barbell rows for decrease reps, might be a wonderful method to construct measurement and power. Performing seated cable rows with a protracted bar, adopted by seated cable rows with a single-handle, could be redundant and far much less efficient.


  1. Afonso J, Ramirez-Campillo R, Moscão J, et al. Power Coaching versus Stretching for Bettering Vary of Movement: A Systematic Evaluation and Meta-Evaluation. Healthcare (Basel). 2021;9(4):427. Printed 2021 Apr 7. doi:10.3390/healthcare9040427
  2. Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, et al. Muscle time below stress throughout resistance train stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. J Physiol. 2012;590(2):351-362. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200
  3. Fenwick CM, Brown SH, McGill SM. Comparability of various rowing workouts: trunk muscle activation and lumbar backbone movement, load, and stiffness. J Power Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):350-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019. PMID: 19197209.

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