Seated Cable Rows: Tips, Technique, Correct Form, and Benefits

Strengthen your upper body with seated cable rows. (Image via Pexels/Andres Ayrton)
Strengthen your upper body with seated cable rows. (Image via Pexels/Andres Ayrton)
Soniya Y

One of the most effective ways to strengthen your upper body is by doing seated cable rows.

Seated cable rows are performed by pulling a weighted handle or bar attached to a pulley. It works your back and shoulders, and it’s one of the few exercises that you can do on multiple machines at the gym.

What is a Seated Cable Row?

A seated cable row is a complex workout that works muscle groups in your back and arms using a weighted horizontal cable row machine.

A bench for comfortable seating and foot plates to brace yourself against while pulling the weighted wire are included in cable machines.

Which muscles does it work on?

The seated cable row engages various back and arm muscles. Here are some of them:

  • The posterior, or middle, back is where you'll find Latissimus Dorsi, a muscle that helps with arm movements
  • The Rhomboids, which are a type of rhombus
  • The Trapezius, which are another muscle in the trapezius muscle (you know—the part between your shoulder blades)

In the sitting row, the lats and rhomboids are the main movers. The trapezius and biceps support movement by aiding the lats and rhomboids.

How to do seated cable row: Correct form & technique

Seated cable rows are commonly performed on a seated row machine or a seated cable row machine. The instructions for both are nearly the same.

Before you begin, make any necessary adjustments to the seat and chest pad. The handles of the machine should be parallel to your shoulders.


Here's how to do the seated cable row correctly:

  • Sit straight on the bench with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor or on the foot pads.
  • With your extended arms, hold the handle or cord.
  • Pull back and forth with your shoulders. Your core should be braced.
  • Exhale and pull the handle or cable with your elbows tucked in to your sides. Pause for one second.
  • As you inhale and slowly stretch your arms, count to three. One set of 12 to 15 reps is sufficient.

Tips for doing seated cable rows

Here are some tips you can use when doing seated cable rows:

  • It's fine to use a little "trunk English" (i.e., torso momentum). However, you should never let your lower back leave its neutral lordotic position. Keep your pelvis neutral and your lower back will follow.
  • Midway through the exercise, squeeze the lats hard by pulling the shoulder blades together and down.
  • Maintain a slight bending of the knees.
  • With your elbows, guide the weight. Do not simply "pull it."
  • Keep the eccentric movement under control at all times.

Common mistakes to avoid while doing seated cable rows

The seated row, like all workouts, demands appropriate form and movement to be efficient and safe.

Avoid the following mistakes for the greatest results. If you require one-on-one assistance, consult a personal trainer.

1) Keeping the elbows outward

Keep your elbows against your body throughout the pulling phase (except during the wide-grip row). Your biceps are worked instead of your lats and rhomboids as you lift your elbows up and out.

2) Shoulders shrugged

Keep your shoulders back and down as you draw the weight. You're putting too much focus on the traps when you shrug your shoulders toward your ears.

3) Swinging Torso

Keep your torso still. The targeted muscles will not be tight if this is not done. Your torso will stabilize if you brace your core during the activity.

4) Movements that are quick

Slowly complete each rep to ensure that your muscles are thoroughly stimulated.

5) Range of motion is limited

Jerky and rapid motions should be avoided. Each exercise should be performed through the whole range of motion for the best benefits.

While having a limited range of motion allows you to lift more weight, just half-extending your arms will not build your muscles enough.

6) Knees that are locked

Because locking your knees puts a strain on your joints, it's best to gently bend them.


Here are some of the benefits of doing seated cable rows:

1) It works a variety of muscle groups

Seated cable rows work several muscle groups across the body, including the back muscles, to develop upper-body strength.

Furthermore, during seated cable rows, your biceps and triceps act as stabilizers.

2) Promotes healthy posture

Maintain excellent form when completing a sitting row cable. Maintain a straight back and bent knees. Keeping this stance throughout the exercise will strengthen muscles that will improve your daily posture.

3) Reduces the tension on your lower back

When compared to other complex workouts like barbell rows or bench presses, a seated cable row puts more attention on your upper back while alleviating tension on your lower back.

Bottom Line

Seated cable rows benefit everyone, from bodybuilders to athletes. It's not just a typical "back exercise." You can do them with a variety of bars and types of attachments.

In addition to giving you great back width and thickness as well as a big chest, seated cable rows are also great for preventing forearm numbness during workouts.

The key is to always use your back and target the mid-back area, not your arms. This will keep them in alignment with your spine, so you don't injure yourself.

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Q. Have you tried the seated cable rows?


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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh


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