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Seated Machine Row 101 Video Tutorial

Gym Main Variation Strength


Seated Machine Row
Seated Machine Row

Exercise Synopsis

Target Muscle Group

Upper Back

Secondary Targets



Force Type

Pull (Bilateral)

Required Equipment

Row Machine

Fitness Level













The Seated Machine Row is a compound exercise designed to target the upper back muscles with a primary emphasis on the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. Executed using a row machine, this exercise provides a stable and controlled environment for isolating and strengthening the upper back. Seated in the machine, individuals grasp the handles and pull the weight towards their torso, engaging the muscles responsible for scapular retraction. In addition to the primary focus on the upper back, the Seated Machine Row also recruits secondary muscle groups, including the biceps and shoulders, contributing to overall upper body development. The adjustable resistance on the row machine allows for tailored workouts to suit various fitness levels, making this exercise an effective choice for those seeking to enhance their upper back strength, promote scapular stability, and achieve a well-rounded physique.

How to Perform

  1. Adjust the weight on the stack of the seated row machine according to your fitness level and attach either a close-grip bar or a V-bar to the apparatus.

  2. With a neutral grip (palms facing inward), grasp the chosen bar securely.

  3. Maintain a slight bend in your legs and ensure your back remains straight as you pull the weight slightly off the stack, positioning yourself in an upright and shoulders-back posture; this marks the commencement of the exercise.

  4. Without compromising your body position, initiate the movement by pulling the handle toward your stomach, engaging the upper back muscles.

  5. Emphasize the retraction of your shoulder blades, squeezing the muscles in the upper back; pause momentarily at the peak of the contraction.

  6. Execute a controlled descent, slowly lowering the weight back to the starting position to complete one repetition.

  7. Repeat the entire sequence for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form throughout to maximize the effectiveness of the Seated Machine Row.

  8. Experiment with different grip variations, such as overhand or underhand, to target various areas of the upper back and biceps for a well-rounded workout.

  9. Avoid using momentum to lift the weight, ensuring that the targeted muscles bear the load rather than relying on swinging motions.

  10. Focus on controlled breathing throughout the exercise, exhaling during the pulling phase and inhaling during the return, to maintain a consistent rhythm and optimize oxygen intake for sustained energy during the workout.


  1. Ensure a consistently straight back throughout the Seated Machine Row, maintaining proper spinal alignment for optimal muscle engagement in the upper back.

  2. Keep the torso stable without unnecessary movement during the entire set, enhancing the isolation of the targeted muscles and preventing potential strain on the lower back.

  3. Avoid allowing the shoulders to hunch forward when your arms are fully extended, maintaining a retracted shoulder position to maximize the involvement of the upper back and lats.

  4. Utilize the back muscles exclusively to move the weight, refraining from leaning forward or relying on momentum to swing the weight back. This ensures that the muscles responsible for scapular retraction are effectively targeted.

  5. Enhance the intensity and effectiveness of the exercise by incorporating a brief pause and squeezing the muscles at the top of the movement for a 1-2 count. This contraction further engages the upper back, biceps, and shoulders, contributing to increased results.

  6. Adjust the seat and handle height to match your individual proportions, ensuring a comfortable and biomechanically sound position for the Seated Machine Row.

  7. Gradually increase the weight as your strength improves, maintaining a challenging but controlled resistance for progressive muscle development.

  8. Incorporate variety into your grip choices, such as wide or narrow grips, to target different areas of the upper back and stimulate diverse muscle fibers.

  9. Focus on controlled breathing throughout the exercise, exhaling during the pulling phase and inhaling during the return, to establish a consistent rhythm and optimize oxygen intake for sustained performance.

How Not to Perform

  1. Avoid Rounded Shoulders: Prevent mistakes and minimize the risk of injury by refraining from rounding the shoulders during the Seated Machine Row. Keep the shoulders pulled back and down throughout the movement to ensure proper scapular retraction and target the upper back effectively.

  2. Do Not Overarch the Lower Back: Prevent unnecessary strain on the lower back by avoiding overarched positioning. Maintain a neutral spine and avoid excessive extension to focus the energy on the upper back muscles without compromising lower back stability.

  3. Refrain from Using Momentum: To prevent wasting energy and ensure the targeted muscles bear the load, avoid using momentum to initiate or complete the rowing motion. Execute controlled movements without swinging or jerking, emphasizing muscle engagement throughout.

  4. Avoid Excessive Forward Lean: Refrain from leaning forward excessively during the exercise, ensuring that the upper back muscles, particularly the lats, are the primary movers. Excessive forward lean may shift the emphasis away from the targeted muscle group.

  5. Prevent Over-Engagement of Biceps: Avoid overusing the biceps by focusing on the contraction of the upper back muscles during the row. Ensure that the movement is initiated by the upper back, preventing excessive reliance on arm strength and maximizing the effectiveness of the exercise.

  6. Don't Allow Elbows to Flare Out: To prevent potential strain on the shoulder joints, avoid allowing the elbows to flare out excessively during the pulling phase. Keep the elbows close to the body, emphasizing proper form and protecting the shoulder integrity.

  7. Refrain from Rapid or Jerky Movements: Minimize the risk of injuries by avoiding rapid or jerky movements. Execute each repetition with a controlled and deliberate pace, ensuring smooth transitions to maintain form and protect the joints.

  8. Do Not Neglect Full Range of Motion: Avoid incomplete range of motion to maximize muscle engagement. Ensure that the handles are pulled in fully toward the torso and extend the arms fully during the return phase, promoting a complete contraction of the upper back muscles.

  9. Prevent Gripping Too Tightly: Avoid excessive grip tension on the handles to prevent unnecessary forearm fatigue. Maintain a firm but comfortable grip, allowing the upper back muscles to be the primary focus without premature grip fatigue.

  10. Avoid Holding Breath: To optimize energy distribution and prevent mistakes, avoid holding your breath during the exercise. Breathe naturally, exhaling during the pulling phase and inhaling during the return, to maintain a consistent rhythm and enhance overall performance.


Variations of fitness exercises refer to different ways of performing a specific exercise or movement to target various muscle groups, intensities, or goals. These variations aim to challenge the body differently, prevent plateaus, and cater to individuals with varying fitness levels.


Alternative exercises in fitness refer to different movements or activities that target similar muscle groups or serve the same training purpose as the primary exercise. These alternative exercises can be used as substitutes when the original exercise is unavailable or challenging to perform due to various reasons such as equipment limitations, injuries, or personal preferences.