Seated Row: Muscles Worked, Correct Form, How To Do It & more (2024)

A seated row is a compound exercise that utilizes a weighted horizontal cable row machine to work the upper body muscles. The seated row works the muscles in the back and the arms. Cable machines include a bench for comfortable seating with footplates to brace yourself against as you pull the weighted cable and perform the seated row.

The seated row works multiple muscles and encourages good posture. It is one of those row exercises that put less pressure on the lower back and hence has fewer chances of injury. The seated row is a great workout for beginners. In this article, we will discuss the seated row muscles worked and how to do a seated row.

What Muscles Worked in Seated Row?

Seated row muscles worked to include a number of upper body muscles. Seated cable row muscles worked include:

  1. Latissimus dorsi, or muscles in the middle back
  2. Rhomboids, or muscles between shoulder blades
  3. Trapezius, or muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back
  4. Biceps brachii, or muscles in front of the upper arm

The primary seated cable row muscles worked or the primary movers in a seated row are the lats and the rhomboids. The biceps and trapezius help in the movement by assisting the rhomboids and lats in seated rows workout.

Seated row exercise also targets and strengthens other groups of muscles, such as:

  1. Pectoralis muscles
  2. Abdominal muscles
  3. Oblique muscles
  4. Quadriceps
  5. Calves
  6. Glutes

How To Do Seated Row?

It is very important to perform exercises with a good form in order to prevent injuries as well as to get the maximum benefits out of your workouts.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do seated row exercise with good form:

  1. To begin, sit on a seated row machine, and place your feet securely on the foot platform. Make sure that your whole foot is on the platform.
  2. Without rounding your spine, bend your legs and grab the cable attachment.
  3. Now, extend your legs to move back and return to a slightly bent-knee position.
  4. Make sure to use a neutral grip with your palms facing each other.
  5. Rotate your shoulders outward to engage your lats. Your shoulder blades should be in a neutral or slightly protracted position. Your arms should be long with a slight bend in your elbows. Your posture should be tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips.
  6. Make sure to maintain a neutral head and neck position. Keep your chin tucked throughout the movement as if you were holding an apple under your chin. This is the starting position.
  7. Inhale. As you exhale, squeeze your lats and begin to bend your elbows until your upper arm is even with your body. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle. As your elbows begin to move backward, your shoulder blades should begin to retract.
  8. Pause for a beat.
  9. As you inhale, maintain your rowing alignment, allow your shoulder blades to protract, and straighten your elbows.
  10. Bring your shoulder blades should back in a protracted position with your arms long with a slight bend in your elbows.
  11. This is one repetition.
  12. Perform 3 sets with 6-10 repetitions of seated row exercise.

Make sure to use a weight that you can control for 2-3 sets of 6-10 repetitions with good form to avoid any injuries.

What Common Mistakes to avoid while doing Seated Row?

Getting the seated row form correct is of utmost importance. There are a few things to remember when it comes to seated row form.

1. Avoid outward elbows

When performing seated rows workout keep your elbows against your body during the pulling phase. Make sure to avoid lifting your elbows up and out as that would engage the biceps instead of the rhomboids and lats.

2. Avoid shrugging your shoulders

When pulling the weight in the seated back row, make sure to keep your shoulders back and down. Shrugging your shoulders up to your ears will place too much focus and pressure on the traps.

3. Avoid a rounded back

When doing seated back row, always maintain a neutral back. You can engage your abdominals and focus on keeping your spine straight in order to prevent arching or rounding your back.

4. Avoid swinging your torso

When doing seated row back exercise, try to avoid moving your torso. If you swing your torso, it will cause your targeted muscles to not feel any tension. Bracing and engaging your core throughout the seated row back exercise will help you in stabilizing the torso.

5. Avoid rapid movements

To fully activate the target muscles in a seated row, it is ideal that you perform each repetition slowly. Try to avoid any jerky or rapid movement.

6. Avoid partial range of movements

Another thing to note while performing seated row is to perform each rep through the full range of motion to get the optimal benefits. While a partial or reduced range of motion in a seated row may let you lift more weight, partially extending your arms will not work your muscles properly.

7. Avoid locking your knees

Locking your knees in a seated row can put a lot of stress on your joints. It is a good idea to slightly bend your knees instead when performing seated row.

What are the Various Seated Row Alternatives and Modifications?

There are various seated row alternative exercises or variations that one can try in order to match the exercise to their fitness level. These seated row alternative or variations include:

1. Seated Dumbbell Row

Seated dumbbell row is a seated row alternative that uses dumbbells instead of a cable. A seated dumbbell row can be performed anywhere as it requires minimal and easily portable equipment.

2. One-arm Cable Row

This is a seated row alternative that is usually done while standing. It is a great exercise to bulk up your back and shoulders.

3. Bent-over Row

This is another great alternative for the seated row. However, it is a more demanding exercise in terms of form as compared to seated rows.

Now that you know all about seated rows, make sure to include this very effective exercise in your workout routine.

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Seated Row: Muscles Worked, Correct Form, How To Do It & more (2024)


How to do rows effectively? ›

Row exercise tips
  1. Think about keeping your shoulders down as you perform a row to avoid hunching your shoulders up to your ears.
  2. When you pull the weight in towards you, think about squeezing your shoulder blades to contract your back muscles.
  3. Brace your core when performing this movement to help keep your torso stable.

What muscle is worked the most during the seated row? ›

Dr. Laskowski: The seated row is an exercise you can do with a weight machine to work the muscles in your upper back. Specifically, the seated row targets the muscles in your upper back and also the latissimus dorsi — a muscle on the outer side of the chest wall.

What is the best seated cable row form? ›

Sit up tall with a slight bend through the knees. Tighten up the abs and low back to maintain a perpendicular angle to the floor with your torso. Roll the shoulders back and down. Squeeze them together as you row, thinking about pinching a pencil in between them.

What is the correct posture for rows? ›

Common Dumbbell Row Mistakes to Avoid

Once you're in a hinge position, some guys bend over too far, so that their hips are higher than their shoulders. Don't do that; instead, keep your hips below the shoulders. Also, avoid rotating the shoulders and raising the head.

How to do rows with good form? ›

Keep your chest up and out, your knees slightly bent, and let the weight hang. Start the row. Hold your torso rigid and pull the barbell upwards toward your chest. Think about pulling your elbows back together, like you're starting a lawnmower.

What is the best rowing technique? ›

Proper Rowing Technique:
  • The rowing motion initiates from your legs. ...
  • Just before you finish your leg push, begin to pull on the handlebar while bending your elbows. ...
  • Using the muscles in your back and biceps, pull the bar to the area between your navel and lower chest.
Aug 25, 2021

What is the prime mover muscle in a seated row? ›

During the seated row, the primary movers are the lats and rhomboids. The trapezius and biceps help the movement by assisting the lats and rhomboids.

How many seated rows should I do? ›

Start by programming three to five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions with moderate to heavy loads OR two to four sets of 15 to 25 repetitions with moderate loads to near failure. Keep rest periods between 45 and 90 seconds. You can build muscle with both higher and moderate rep ranges.

What is a good seated row weight? ›

Strength LevelWeight
Novice133 lb
Intermediate189 lb
Advanced254 lb
Elite325 lb
1 more row

Should you lean back for a seated row? ›

You should lean back just slightly in the neutral position for this move. Aim for about 10-20 degrees of backward lean for an optimal position.

What is the proper technique for back rows? ›

Hold your torso rigid and pull the barbell upwards toward your chest. Think about pulling your elbows back together, like you're starting a lawnmower. Bring the barbell back down with control and start the row again. Keep your torso strong and at a steady angle, with your back flat and straight.

Are seated rows effective? ›

The seated row strengthens the back and forearm muscles. It is a great all-around compound exercise for strengthening the middle back and working the arms. A seated row machine utilizes a weighted horizontal cable with a bench and footplates.

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