How to Do a Seated Row

This is a static seated exercise that uses a weighted cable machine and horizontal pulling movement to work the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius of the back. The forearms, biceps and triceps come into play as stabilizer muscles during the movement. The seated position used can be beneficial for those recovering from lower body injuries.

This maneuver helps strengthen the muscles needed for good posture as well as works to protect the shoulders from strain. Performing this exercise can also help with everyday activities such as pulling heavy loads.

How To

  • Set your weights and release any locking mechanisms on the machine. Choose a lighter weight until you become familiar with the movement.
  • Take a seat on the bench and make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor or foot pad. Knees may be slightly bent if there is a foot pad, or bent at 90 degrees if there is no foot pad. Reach out to take hold of the handles while making sure to keep your back straight.
  • Set your shoulder blades by drawing them together and down before beginning. Remember to keep your core engaged. This helps to protect the back.
  • Exhale as you slowly pull the bar toward your lower abdomen, drawing your elbows downward as you pull. Pause for a breath at this point.
  • To complete the motion, inhale as you slowly return the bar back to the original position. Keep in mind that this motion is just as beneficial as the initial pull. Remember to keep your shoulder blades set and core engaged through the entire movement.


One set of 12–15 repetitions are recommended for the average workout.


Wide grip: This exercise can be done with a wider grip as long as the machine has a bar attachment. The hands should be positioned slightly wider than shoulder width. Using a wider grip targets the smaller muscles of the back including the middle trapezius and the posterior deltoids.

Resistance Band: If you don’t have access to gym equipment, you can complete this exercise using a resistance band. Sitting on the floor, you would draw your knees up until about 45 degrees with your heels on the floor. The band will be wrapped around the soles of your feet with either end of the band gripped in the hands. Pull back until the hands are over the thighs. You may have to play around a bit to get the tension right, and you will have to be vigilant about keeping your back straight and core engaged.

One-handed rows: Most people have one side that is stronger than the other. The one-armed row can be used to strengthen that weaker side. Using one arm increases the difficulty for the core as the muscles work to keep your torso from rotating.

Cautionary Notes

Each motion should be performed slowly and under control at all times. Jerky, quick movements can lead to muscle strain and injury.

Be cautious if you are dealing with any current or past back or shoulder injuries.

When you reach forward to take hold of the handles, you should only feel a slight stretch. If you feel any sharp pains, you should stop the exercise immediately.

Make sure not to allow your back to round during the motion. Some flexion through the hips is acceptable, though.

Other Great Lats and Trapezius Exercises

Bent-over row
Shoulder shrug
Supine row

More Seated Row Related Resources

Seated Row Exercise Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock
Seated Row Exercise Video
How to Do the Seated Cable Row: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
Seated Row: Muscles Used, Common Mistakes, Modifications
Seated cable row exercise instructions and video | Weight Training Guide

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