View Full Version : Cable seated rows

11-02-2011, 01:02 PM
I've been doing cable seated rows like this:

whereas most people I've seen in the gym, and most guides online, and the exercise description in JEFIT, tell you to do them like this:

i.e. keeping the back straight.

Why? You do need to exercise your lower back, right? So why not use it in this exercise? ExRx also has an article about this here:

If you watch someone on a rowing machine, or even rowing for real in a boat, they bend their back.

Is there any reason many folk seem to be scared of doing cable rows that way?

11-02-2011, 08:14 PM
Hmmm... not an expert on Kinesiology, but it seems to me that in the first example, half of the range of motion is being controlled, not by the Rhomboid muscles, but by the Erector Spinae (and if you were to accidentally twist your torso as you moved back - for example because of a lack of core strength - then you could injure your back). The second example shows ALL the effort being controlled by the Rhomboid muscles of the back, and probably Deltoid involvement too, whereas the Erector Spinae are only being used to keep the torso stable. This seems like a safer movement, less prone to back injury and places more emphasis on the muscles you actually want to train (keep the Erector Spinae training to isolation exercises like Hyperextensions or for Good Mornings and Deadlifts.)

I think the first example, the one you say you are following, is actually very bad form (and is it just my eyes, or is the model demonstrating the move rather fat?)

Kind Regards

11-02-2011, 09:18 PM
I think either exercise would work however the second with the back straight would seem to engage more core strength to hold you in place but also put more of the workout into back. The first I don't have a problem with however your whole body is pulling the initial weight back thus allowing you to use more weight, may not get as good of a workout. It's sort of like doing bicep curls. You can curl more weight if you use your whole body to do the exercise; cheat. Sure the bicep is still being worked but not as much as if you are solid frame and concentrating specifically on the biceps. May not be able to curl as much the second way but your biceps will get a better workout. The same goes for this; in my opinion.

I've done both however the second one is the one I employ.

11-02-2011, 09:24 PM
Take a look at this and read.

"Caution: Avoid swinging your torso back and forth as you can cause lower back injury by doing so."


Back should be 90 degrees and remain stationary. I would have to agree with this.

11-02-2011, 09:34 PM
Yeah, that's what I thought...

Just looking at it, it seems like an awkard motion...

Kind Regards

11-03-2011, 12:44 PM
Sure the bent-back version engages more of the muscles in your lower back, but this is a compound exercise, so what's wrong with that?

Read http://www.exrx.net/Questions/DangerousExercises.html#anchor14141713

and look at someone actually rowing:


"keep the Erector Spinae training to isolation exercises like Hyperextensions or for Good Mornings and Deadlifts"


I know you have to be careful not to over-train your lower back, though that's not any different from any other muscle really. I guess because of the high prevalence of lower back injuries in the general (untrained) population people are scared of using their lower back muscles? But isn't it the case that using muscles makes them stronger and therefore you are less likely to get injured?

I guess I'm really pondering why there are so many warnings about not bending your lower back (as in that bodybuilding.com link) - is it really that much of a risk or are people who write such advice just scared of a lawsuit? And if bending your back is such a problem why do rowers not have lots of lower back injuries (or do they?)

11-03-2011, 12:46 PM
A physiotherapist once told me that all athletes are "the walking wounded".

11-03-2011, 12:57 PM
A physiotherapist once told me that all athletes are "the walking wounded".

Was he seeing dollar signs in his eyeballs?

If athletes are the walking wounded, what does that make the rest of the population?! Walking heart failures? :-)

11-03-2011, 01:00 PM
Pound signs.

11-03-2011, 05:57 PM
A physiotherapist once told me that all athletes are "the walking wounded".

I would have to agree with this. The more active I have been with weight lifting and martial arts over the last 14 years, the more injuries I have occurred. Playing football when younger for 7 years also seen a lot of injuries. Look at MMA fighters, football players, hockey players, etc. ... always injured. My sports doctor has a huge clientele. I'm in Canada so for us it costs nothing for us to see him there is just a need for him and I'm sure he makes good money not that he needed to since he holds many Stanley Cups wins.

No matter that I have seen so many injuries and have had to have surgeries for quite a few of these, I wouldn't stop working out for nothing. There are so many other benefits I have seen that make it worth it.

11-04-2011, 03:23 PM
I tend to do cable seated rows with my back slightly arched and my chest pushed out. I feela greater emphasis in my rear delts when doing this.