Seated cable rows are invaluable when building muscle strength and increasing mass in your back and chest. However, cable machines are neither cheap nor compact—which means getting one into your home gym can be challenging.
In this guide, you’ll learn the benefits of doing seated cable rows, alternative exercises that don’t require a machine, and the answers to frequently asked questions regarding this popular exercise.
Table of Contents
What is a Seated Cable Row, and How Do You Do It?
A seated cable row is what’s known as a compound exercise: a maneuver that works multiple groups of muscles simultaneously.
During a seated cable row, you sit on the bench of a weighted horizontal cable machine, keeping your knees bent. Grabbing the handle of the cable—it can be a triangle or bar—pull the cable down towards your lower abdomen, then return it to its previous position.
Use caution to keep your back straight, and make sure your arms are moving rather than your torso. You also want to avoid letting the weights fall or crash when you return to the starting position.
What Muscles Does A Seated Cable Row Work?
Seated cable rows are popular due to their low learning curve: even those new to weight training can perform them. This exercise is also adaptable to any strength level since you can add more weight and reps as you progress with your fitness goals.
During a seated cable row, the following primary muscles are activated:
In addition to these primary muscles, seated cable rows also work out your secondary muscles:
Anyone looking to build strength or mass should implement seated cable rows or similar exercises, largely because it strengthens your back—and the stronger your back muscles, the more you can exercise and lift in the rest of your routine.
Alternative Exercises For Seated Cable Rows At Home
While seated cable rows are typically done on a machine, don’t nix this exercise when you’re working out at home!
Plenty of alternative exercises provide the same benefits of seated cable rows without a machine, utilizing much cheaper home gym equipment instead.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
To work out your arms and chest in a similar way as a seated cable row, grab some free weights and a bench to lean on.
Bent-Over Rows (Reverse Barbell)
T-Bar Rows (Landmine)
Incline Dumbbell Row
Seated Resistance Band Rows
Inverted TRX Rows
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Does a seated row work the chest?
Yes, a seated cable row and similar exercises work muscles in the chest and shoulders, even though it primarily targets the back.
Do inverted rows build muscle?
Inverted rows can dramatically strengthen hard-to-target back muscles, as well as neglected areas of the shoulders and chest. Working these groups can build muscle mass and improve tone just on their own—but one of the greatest benefits is that it increases your overall back strength, allowing you to more effectively perform other muscle-building exercises.
Where should you feel seated cable rows?
Overall, you will feel your upper and middle back muscles activated, as well as your shoulders and chest. You should not feel strain in your lower back if you’re doing a seated cable row correctly
Is it better to use a close or wide grip for seated cable rows?
The kind of grip you use during this exercise determines how activated your lats will be. To focus more on your upper back, keep a wider grip. Alternatively, for more activation in the middle back, keep your hands closer together.
Seated cable rows are an incredibly effective exercise to target the entire back, as well as several chest and arm muscles, to increase strength, mass, and definition. If you don’t have a cable machine in your home gym, however, several comparable exercises can achieve the same targeting and benefits.