Seated Pulley Row Exercise Guide

The Seated Pulley Row is a great pulling exercise that targets your biceps and back muscles simultaneously with the use of a cable machine. Aside from increasing the size and strength of your back, biceps, and lats, you also greatly improve your cardiovascular health and strengthen your abdominals with this exercise. 

Seated Pulley Row

How To Do the Seated Cable Row

Setting Up

To start your workout, adjust the seat and chest pad to your height. Make sure that your shoulders are level with the handle attachment and that you position yourself upright on the bench.

Placing your feet on foot pads or planting them flat on the floor will help you maintain balance throughout your workout. Extend arms and grip the handle or cable firmly. This is the starting position. 


The purpose of this exercise is to simulate the movement of rowing in the water. Once in position, grab the cable attachment with both hands with an overhand grip, pull on the handle towards your body and bring your elbows back. Breathe in as you do this motion and keep your torso stable.

The handle must be placed between your sternum. Make sure it doesn’t touch your chin.

Next, slowly extend your arms while exhaling and returning to the starting position. It’s also important to remember not to bend your back and always keep your eyes forward. This will prevent you from straining your neck and shoulders.


  • Do not push yourself too hard to avoid injuries and too much strain on your neck or back. Keep your spine straight at all times while exercising.
  • When working out for the first time or simply doing an occasional workout routine, it’s important to take things slowly at first. This way your body will adapt better and won’t suffer from unwanted injuries down the line.
  • Keep the motion fluid and controlled. This will avoid jarring your muscles.
  • Don’t lift weight that is too heavy that it reduces your range of motion. If you are starting out, it is important to start light while focusing on your form, then gradually increase the load once you know you are doing the exercise correctly.


  • Improves posture and prevents back pain
  • Tones your muscles and helps improve your balance and coordination.
  • Help you develop strength in key areas of your body
  • Contributes to stability in your shoulders, which is an essential component of a good fitness routine.
  • Improves throwing ability
  • Prepares you for other exercises
  • Provides aesthetic benefits by building a wider back that in turn makes your chest look bigger and waist smaller

Illustrated Guide

How To Do Seated Pulley Row

Muscles Work

Primary Muscles

  • Lats
  • Middle trapezius
  • Posterior deltoids
  • Biceps
  • Teres minor
  • Erector spinae

Secondary Muscles

  • Glutes
  • Core

Seated Cable Row Variations

Seated pulley rows can be done using different grip types, each targeting different muscles in your back. Include this exercise in your strength training and mix up your grip every now and then to find which works best for you and your goals.

Underhand Grip Rows

While an overhand grip is perfect for isolating the posterior deltoid and the middle traps, underhand grip seated rows are a great exercise for targeting the middle back, particularly the inferior portion of the trapezius.

Ensure that you use your back muscle to pull the handle towards your belly button while maintaining a straight back throughout the movement. Do this in a seated position, but it can also be done while standing.

Narrow Grip Rows

People find narrow grips to be more effective in getting better contact with their biceps but they are also a great exercise for targeting the lats, especially the outer portion. This makes them a better choice if you’re looking to develop muscle strength throughout your back.

Wide Grip Rows

Wide-grip rows are a fantastic variation that works both rowing movements – shoulder external rotation and scapular upward rotation – at the same time, making them extremely effective for overall shoulder development. This involves keeping your arms parallel to the ground and elbows out to the sides more, which allows you to hit the outer lats more.

Seated Cable Row Alternatives

Bent Over Dumbbell Row

If you’re looking for an effective back exercise that’s simple to perform and doesn’t require any equipment, the bent-over dumbbell row is a great option. It targets various muscles including the upper back (rhomboids, and traps) and lats.

You can do it either standing or seated on a bench – making it a versatile exercise that works different parts of your back at once, and a great alternative to the seated cable row.

Position your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. While maintaining your core engaged, slowly raise and pull the dumbbells to your chest,

Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the initial position in a controlled manner, keeping your elbows close to your side and pulling it so it’s up into your belly button.

Pendlay Row

Pendlay row is an excellent bodybuilding exercise that uses a weighted barbell to work muscles in your back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. 

Starting out by using a moderate amount of weight is advisable as this will help improve your form. Avoid swinging the barbell too much – this could cause lower-back issues.

Start with knees bent slightly and torso parallel to the floor. Grab the barbell with an overhand, wide grip. Lift the bar from the floor and pull it towards your body. Make sure that you use your back muscles to pull the bar and that you engage your core muscles for stability.

Slowly lower the barbell back to the ground. Pause and repeat until you reach your desired number of repetitions. 

Lat Pulldown

Lat pulldowns are an excellent back exercise that targets the latissimus dorsi muscle group. This muscle is responsible for a strong and wide back, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking to get one.

To start with, make sure your equipment is set up correctly before starting. You’ll also want to sit comfortably on the pulldown seat and position your feet flat on the ground.

When performing the motion, keep your shoulder blades pulled down towards your spine, and lower the bar until it’s level with your chin. Slowly return it back to starting position with control and repeat for desired reps. 

T-Bar Row

The T-Bar row is a great way to build back muscle and strength in your shoulders and back. This compound pulling exercise is an effective way of training muscles both big and small, as well as developing coordination.

To perform the T-Bar row properly, keep feet at hip-width, knees slightly bent, hips positioned at 45 degrees, and cores engaged for stability.

Back Exercises Guide

Kevin Harris