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Seated Row Exercise – How To Do It And What Are Its Benefits?

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ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
Seated Row Exercise – How To Do It And What Are Its Benefits? February 14, 2018

The seated row exercise is the best for improving your posture. Your posture is a projection of your mind. It’s said that the correct posture makes you not only look taller but also feel more confident and powerful. But most of us slouch, crouch or arch, irrespective of power or confidence – leading to permanent damage to the back, lower back, and shoulder muscles. So, make a conscious effort NOW while there’s still time. Give this post a read and learn about seated row exercise, how it works, proper execution, and variations. Swipe up!

What Is Seated Row Exercise?

Seated Row Exercise - What Is Seated Row Exercise Pinit

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As the name suggests, the seated row exercise emulates a rowing motion. It helps to strengthen the muscles that are involved in rowing.

The rowing machine in your gym will have a V-attachment attached to the pulley, which will be weighed down by weight plates. You have to set your weight (start with the lowest weight plate), sit on the bench, put your feet on the platform in front of you, grab hold of the V-attachment, and start rowing. Not quite clear on how to do it? Well, check out the video below.

How To Do Seated Cable Row Exercise With Proper Execution

Here’s a video by Nicole Dudas that takes you through the seated cable row exercise step by step. The steps are broken down for you right below the video, and there is a separate section on tips for executing this exercise like a pro.

Steps To Do Seated Cable Row Exercise

  1. Sit upright on the bench, facing the low pulley row machine with a V-bar.
  2. Keep your feet up on the front platform, making sure your knees are slightly bent but not locked.
  3. Lean over, keeping the natural alignment of your back, and grab the V-bar.
  4. Keep your arms extended and pull back your torso so that it is at a right angle with your legs. Keep your lower back slightly arched, chest out, and shoulders relaxed. This is the starting position.
  5. Keeping your torso stationary, pull the handles of the V-bar back. Breathe out, keep your arms close to your body, and pull the V-bar until your thumbs touch your abs. Squeeze your back muscles.
  6. Hold this pose for a second. Slowly release the contraction and go back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps

  • Beginners – 3 sets of 12 reps (with lighter weight)
  • Advanced – 3 sets of 25 reps (with heavier weight)

Tip For Proper Execution

  • Do not lean back after pulling the V-bar.
  • Do not pull your elbows away from your body.
  • Do not initiate the pull with the shoulder muscles. Use your lats.

Now that you are clear on how to execute it, let me tell you which muscles this exercise works on.

Which Muscles Does The Seated Row Exercise Work On?

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The seated row exercise works on various muscles.

Primary Muscles

  • Latissimus dorsi (the muscles that you can feel by touching your left upper back with your right hand) – used to bring the arms towards the rower.
  • Trapezius (the muscles that you can feel by putting your right hand below your right shoulder, more towards your neck) and rhomboids (muscles that supports the upper back (basically the part of your upper back that’s tough to reach, especially when it’s scratchy!) – used to retract the scapula.
  • Erector spinae (muscles that support the spine) – used to keep your body upright when you do this exercise.
  • Posterior deltoids, infraspinatus, and teres minor (shoulder muscles) – used in the rowing action.
  • Brachialis and brachioradialis (arms) – also used in the pulling the rowing cable.
  • Sternal head muscles (chest muscles) – used while the arms and shoulders are in contracted position.

Secondary Muscles

The biceps (front of your upper arms), triceps (lower part of your upper arms), quads (front of your thighs), adductors (inner thighs), and glutes (buttocks).

[ Read: Triceps Exercises For Women ]

All these target muscles make the seated row exercise a complete workout in itself. It can be done using a special seated row machine or a simple cable.

Now, let us take a look at seated cable row exercise variations.

Seated Row Exercise Variations

1. Seated Dumbbell Row

Target – Lats, rhomboids, traps, shoulders, biceps, abs, and chest.

Steps

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and sit upright on a flat bench. Your arms must be hanging by your side, and palms facing each other.
  2. Slightly bend forward, keep your spine straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull the dumbbells up till they reach the level of your chest.
  3. Slowly return them to the starting position

Sets And Reps

3 sets of 12 reps

2. Wide Grip Seated Row

Seated Row Exercise - Wide Grip Seated Row Pinit

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Target – Lats, rhomboids, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, and chest.

Steps

  1. Grab a bar attached to the low pulley, sit upright on the flat bench, keep your feet up on the platform in front, lean slightly back, and keep your chest out.
  2. Breathe in and pull the bar towards you till it touches your abs. Squeeze your shoulder blades.
  3. Do not move forward or backward while doing this exercise.

Sets And Reps

3 sets of 12 reps

3. High Pulley Seated Row

Target – Lats, rhomboids, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, glutes, and chest.

Steps

  1. Attach a V-bar to the high pulley. Grab it, lunge, and sit on the floor like you would while proposing to someone.
  2. Slowly extend your hands up and pull the V-bar down. Squeeze your shoulder blades, keep your elbows close to your body, and chest out.
  3. Pause for a second and then release the hold slowly.

Sets And Reps

3 sets of 15 reps

[ Read: Effective Exercises To Get Flat Abs ]

4. Seated One Arm Row

Target – Lats, rhomboids, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, glutes, and chest.

Steps

  1. Sit upright on the bench, facing the low pulley row machine with a V-bar.
  2. Keep your feet up on the front footrest, making sure your knees are slightly bent but not locked.
  3. Lean over, keeping the natural alignment of your back, grab the attachment with one hand and keep your other arm on the thigh.
  4. Keep your arms extended and pull back your torso so that it is at a right angle with your legs. Keep your lower back slightly arched, chest out, and shoulders relaxed.
  5. Breathe out, keep your arm close to your body, and pull the bar until your thumb touches your abs. Also, squeeze your back muscles.
  6. Hold this pose for a second. Slowly release the contraction and go back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat with the other hand.

Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10 reps

These are the best seated cable row variations that can help break the monotony. Here is a list of precautions you should be aware of.

Precautions

  • Do not do this exercise if your fitness trainer doesn’t allow you to, especially if you have an injury.
  • Take it slow; do not start with too many weight plates.
  • Do not swing back and forth as you might injure your back.
  • Take a 10-second break after every set.

Before we conclude, take a look at the benefits of seated row exercise.

Seated Row Exercise: The Benefits

This advanced exercise is an excellent way to strengthen the back muscles. It exercises many groups of muscles as it uses the major joints in the body.

The entire back is exercised in a non-stressful way: the erector spinae in the lower and middle back, the trapezius in the upper back, the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi in the middle back, and the teres major in the outer back.

The additional benefit is that it’s not just the back muscles that get hauled and worked up in this routine, but also the posterior deltoids, infraspinatus and teres minor in the shoulders, the brachialis and brachioradialis in the upper arms, as well as the pectoralis major and sternal head muscles in the lower chest. So, basically, it will improve your posture and tone your back, arms, and lower back, making you look and feel amazing.

[ Read: 12 Benefits Of Rowing Machine Exercises To Strengthen Your Body ]

To conclude, when done correctly and regularly, the seated row exercise will help strengthen and tone your back like no other exercise. Include it in your workout routine, and you will see the difference yourself. So, go on and get rowing! Good luck!

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