How to do Seated Rows Correctly and Safely

 
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INTRODUCTION: THE SEATED CABLE ROW

The back is one of the most neglected muscle groups in fitness. This is because they are not 'beach muscles' - ones that cannot be readily seen when looking in the mirror. Your back is composed of so many different muscles that are integral to maintaining shoulder and spinal health.

This is one of the very few exercises that machines are useful for.

sEATED CABLE ROW FORM VIDEO

 

BENEFITS OF THE SEATED CABLE ROW

  • Strengthens the upper back muscles including the rhomboids, the mid trapezius, the posterior shoulders and the latissimus dorsi
  • Helps re-establish proper shoulder position that happens from having an anterior dominant focus
  • Helps realign the thoracic spine

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE SEATED CABLE ROW

  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior Deltoids
  • Mid-Low Trapezius
  • Biceps
  • Forearms/Grip

 

PERFORMING THE SEATED CABLE ROW WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE

  • Approach a Cable Row Machine 
  • Attach a handle where your grip is inside shoulder width (you can also use handles that use a medium or wide grip for a different variation
  • Sit down, grab the handles of the attachment and set your feet against the footrest of the machine
  • Sit up tall with a neutral spine
 
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  • From this position, retract your shoulders back into your shoulder sockets. Maintain this position throughout the entire set
 
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  • Begin pulling the weight towards your upper abdomen by bringing your elbows back
  • As the weight gets closer, focus on retracting your shoulder blades together
  • Do NOT Shrug
  • Do NOT extend your back excessively, (the less your spine moves the better)
 
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  • Once the weight touches your upper abdomen, pause for a quick 1 count and reverse
  • As you return to the starting position DO NOT let your shoulders protract. Keep your shoulders back in the shoulder socket!
  • Repeat for the desired amount of reps

 

SEATED ROW: NEUTRAL GRIP VS WIDE GRIP?

A neutral grip on the seated row places your shoulders in a more natural position and is generally more comfortable for trainees.

Using a pronated grip can increase the chance of internally rotating your shoulders which could lead to injuries.

Using a supinated grip trains the arm muscles more than the back muscles defeating the purpose of the exercise.

A wider grip will change the angle in which the back muscles are being trained. It isn't a huge difference and as such, this is something you shouldn't really focus on.

 

SUMMARY OF THE SEATED CABLE ROW TECHNIQUE

 
 

Click on each blue circle to view the key technical aspects of this exercise

 

COMMON MISTAKES

SHRUGGING

Shrugging during the movement places the emphasis on the upper trap muscles and not on the upper back.  The upper traps are already overly activated in most people.

 
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LEANING BACK EXCESSIVELY

People do this when the weight is too heavy.  Try to minimize the movement of your spine during the exercise. Excessive leaning can cause low back strain

 
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LETTING YOUR SHOULDERS PROTRACT

Allowing your shoulders to move so freely in the socket throughout this exercise can increase the risk of a shoulder strain.  Keep your shoulder back, as this is the most stable position for them to be in.

 
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Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here