Exercise Of The Week : Seated Cable Rows.

Seated Cable Rows emphasize muscles around the back including the lats, the erector spinae, rear delts, biceps, and forearm flexors. Continue below if you would like to learn more about the seated cable row and its variations.
The back needs thickness not just width, as per our current top bodybuilder's, your back should be thick and meaty. When back training you can do as many as a total of 15 sets or up to 30 sets for the back, while hitting many different angles for complete and overall development. When doing Seated Cable Rows your main objective is to build back thickness to pronounce detail in a lat spread or back double biceps shot.

My opinion, but next to leg training, back training is one of my favorite body parts to train. You have such a wide range of exercises to choose from. Personally, I really like doing seated cable rows. I do them with a v-bar handle, straight bar, and with a rope. The latter is not too easy to do either.

Seated Cable Rows
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Back training gives you that Cobra back "lights out" lat spread. But emphasize the Seated rows and your back will look like a thick pair of beef slabs, not thin sheets of pork loin. Because of all the chest and shoulder training we do, the shoulders are rounded and pulled forward. That is why it is best to do "retraction" rows or rows with your arms parallel to the floor like seated rows.

Muscles Hit:

Seated Cable Rows emphasis is the trapezius muscles, latissimus dorsi, the erector spinae, rear deltoids, biceps, biceps brachialis, and forearm flexors.


Normally this exercise starts with a handle that puts your grip in palms facing toward each other. Take hold of the two separate cable handles, place your feet firmly on the Block in front of you, let your arms extend all the way forward feeling a stretch in the lats, then pull the cables straight back as if you were doing dumbbell rows.

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Feel your back contract completely, especially the stress on the center of your back. Then let the weight slowly return to the starting position while fighting all the way. Again these are excellent because of the consistent pressure that the cables maintain on your back. Remember to use your arms as just tools in order to work your back, don't let them do more work than they have to.

Also, to make sure you are doing them correctly have your partner or someone place there knee in your upper back in-between your shoulder blades to make sure you do not lean back to excessively like many do.

A Partner's Knee In The Back
Will Help Hold Your Posture.
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Exercise Variations

  • High Pulley Seated Row
    Works the lats from an extremely innovative angle! To do these place a V-bar or any attachment that allows you to bring your hands close into your body to the end of the high pulley cable. If all you have is a normal pull down bar then grip it close with an overhand grip.

High Pulley Seated Row
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    Sit back far enough from the high pulley to raise the weight stack up as you grasp the bar with both hands. Keeping your back straight, head up, and arms extended out in front of you, pull the bar straight in to your upper chest, keeping your arms close to your sides. When the bar touches your upper chest pause by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then, under control, extend your arms back to full length getting a good stretch in the lats.

  • Seated One-Arm Cable Rows
    Are done with a single-handed handle instead of a v-bar or straight bar or other. Here we work each side of the back independently from the other.

    Sit on the bench facing the machine. Again, be far enough away so that your lat is completely stretched when your arm is completely extended. Bend forward at the waist, and then pull back till your back is straight keeping your upper arm in close as possible to your side with your head up and feet comfortably directly in front of you.

Seated One-Arm Cable Rows
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    These are kind of like one arm dumbbell rows but done with the machine. Do the same number of repetitions on each side.

  • Seated Rope Cable Rows
    Will help thicken your upper back. By using a rope the row will allow you to concentrate on the upper back. Take hold of the rope handles, place your feet firmly on the ground or the plat form and let your arms extend all the way forward feeling a stretch in your lats.

Seated Rope Cable Rows
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    Grab the ends of the rope as if you were grasping a pair of hammers but place your thumbs inward facing each other pull the rope in towards your chest and face and pull the rope apart too. Pause at your face to tax your rhomboids and then lower bringing the rope together then again pull it apart as you row again.

Build a Thick Back

Beginner Workout:

Intermediate Workout:

Advanced Back Workout:

Every third week change bars on your seated cable rows: first week use rope, then v-bar and then a straight bar.

Note: When using a straight bar your hands can be palms facing down or up, so that would give you two extra exercises with a straight bar on seated cable rows.