How To Do a Seated Machine Row – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: June 7, 2023
  • Time to read: 11 min.
How To Do a Seated Machine Row

Looking to build your back strength? A seated machine row is an excellent exercise choice – not only does it target the major muscles in this area, but it also isolates them so you can make the most of each and every rep.

In addition, a seated machine row is one of the safer upper body exercises out there as you don’t have to worry about using momentum or free weights.

In this blog post, we’ll break down everything from the benefits and proper form of a seated machine row to helpful tips for achieving an effective workout.

Let’s get started!

Benefits of Seated Machine Row

Seated Machine Row offers several body benefits, making it a great exercise for strength and muscle growth. It targets arms, back, and shoulders to give better posture.

  • It engages target muscles such as lats, rhomboids, teres major and minor, leading to a stronger back.
  • It increases shoulder mobility.
  • It also boosts upper arm and forearm grip strength.
  • It’s safe and less stressful on the lower back than barbell rows.

The Seated Machine Row offers a greater range of motion, thus providing maximum stimulation to each muscle group.

Arthur Jones invented this machine in 1970, founder of Nautilus Inc. He wanted to give people a way to safely strengthen their muscles after an injury. Be sure to use proper form while performing this exercise, or you’ll hurt yourself instead of building muscles.

How To Do a Seated Machine Row

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can perform a seated machine row with proper form to maximize your results and minimize the risk of injury.

Step 1: Set Up the Machine

  1. Adjust the seat height: Ensure that the seat is at the appropriate height for your body. When seated, your chest should be aligned with the pad in front of you. Your feet should be flat on the ground or footrests, and your knees should be slightly bent.
  2. Select the appropriate weight: Choose a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions with proper form. Start with a lighter weight if you’re new to the exercise and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable.

Step 2: Get into Position

  1. Sit on the machine with your chest against the pad, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  2. Place your feet firmly on the ground or footrests, maintaining a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Hold the handles with an overhand grip (palms facing down) or a neutral grip (palms facing each other), depending on the machine design and your preference. Make sure your hands are positioned at shoulder-width apart.

Step 3: Perform the Seated Machine Row

  1. Begin with your arms fully extended, allowing your shoulder blades to stretch forward slightly.
  2. Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulders back and retracting your shoulder blades.
  3. Continue pulling the handles towards your torso while keeping your elbows close to your body. Focus on using your back muscles rather than relying solely on your arms.
  4. At the peak of the movement, when the handles are close to your torso, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a brief moment.
  5. Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position, allowing your shoulder blades to stretch forward again.
  6. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions.

Proper Form for Seated Machine Row

To perfect your seated machine row with proper form, utilize foot placement, hand placement, and back posture to ensure maximum benefit from the exercise. By adjusting your body in these ways, you can avoid common mistakes and take advantage of variations to target the right muscles.

Foot Placement

Foot Positioning for Seated Machine Row- Crucial!

For optimal results, your feet must be flat on the ground. Place them slightly wider than hip-width apart. Don’t lock your knees– this puts strain on muscles and joints.

Your foot placement influences which muscles are targeted. Close to the equipment? That’s lats. Far out? Upper back muscles like rhomboids and traps.

Everyone’s body mechanics are unique- so listen to how your body responds. Try different placements to find what works best for you.

Remember- wrong foot positioning can lead to injury and hinder progress. Listen to a professional trainer. Hand placement is also key. Enjoy your workout!

Hand Placement

To perform seated machine rows correctly, it’s important to have the right hand placement. This varies based on one’s muscle size and strength. Your grip should be neither too close nor too wide apart. Position wrists in a neutral position, adjacent to the lobes.

Adjust handles so your hands fall towards the shoulders. Make sure you can extend fully after pulling towards the body. Don’t place hands too close together, as this reduces reach and may cause bruising.

Using just thumbs when gripping causes stress on the elbow joint. Fingers over-gripping increases pressure in the forearm muscle, resulting in injury.

Proper hand placement is key to executing stable seated machine rows without consequences. Any sloppiness can lead to poor posture, weakness in back muscles, and even spinal problems. Sit up straight – unless you want to look like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

Back Posture

Maintain Optimal Back Alignment for Maximum Results!

Keep your shoulders away from your ears and engage your core muscles. Avoid hunching or rounding your shoulders as this can strain your neck. Aim to keep your back neutral.

Pull the weight towards you smoothly and in a controlled manner. Pull with equal strength from both sides. Avoid jerking or twisting motions, and exhale as you bring the weight closer.

Adjust the seat height and foot placement for proper alignment. Keep the grip width comfortable and use an underhand grip to target different muscles.

Don’t miss out on optimal results! Maintaining good back posture during a seated machine row can improve performance and decrease the risk of injury. Get started now!

Tips for Seated Machine Row

To perfect your seated machine row technique, and to reap maximum benefits, incorporate specific breathing techniques and optimize your range of motion. This section focuses on tips for seated machine row, including the sub-sections of breathing techniques and range of motion, which can greatly improve your machine row and target specific muscles for a more effective workout.

Breathing Techniques

For effective breathing during seated machine row workout, focus on breathing. Proper breathing helps with stability, control, and muscular activation during the exercise. Here’s a 3-step guide:

  1. Inhale deeply through your nose before pulling the weight.
  2. Hold your breath while contracting your back muscles and pulling the weight. This increases intra-abdominal pressure and maximizes back muscle engagement.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth as you extend your arms.

Pro Tip: Keep a steady pace for inhaling, holding, and exhaling throughout the set. Lastly, maintain proper form and target muscles with each repetition. Row like you’re trying to escape a sinking ship, but don’t let your range of motion go down with it.

Range of Motion

For Seated Machine Rows, motion is key. Stay in proper form for muscle activation and injury prevention. Start with arms extended and neutral grip on handles. Pull shoulder blades back and down. Then, drive elbows towards torso.

Keep back straight, chest lifted and core engaged. Try to get handles close to body while controlling the movement. Avoid jerky or swinging motions which can cause stress on joints and muscles. Instead, use manageable weights that allow good form. Everyone’s mobility and range of motion vary; those with limited flexibility may need more stretching.

A friend of mine had an unfortunate experience with this exercise. He used too much weight and neglected his back – causing days of back pain. Don’t make the same mistake! Warming-up is necessary before Seated Machine Rows.

Common Mistakes in Seated Machine Row

To avoid common mistakes in your seated machine row with proper form, benefits, and tips, you need to focus on your back’s posture and avoid using momentum. In this section, we will discuss the two common mistakes, which are overarching back and using momentum, that most people make during their seated machine row.

Overarching Back

Maintaining a neutral spine is key when doing Seated Machine Rows. An overly arched back can cause injury and not properly stimulate the targeted muscles. Keep your back straight and engage your core to ensure proper form and alignment.

Focus on keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Rounding your shoulders forward can cause poor posture and potentially lead to injury over time. So, chest proud and engaged during the movement.

It’s vital to maintain good form during any exercise. According to a study in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, correct form during strength training reduces injury risk. Using momentum on seated machine row is no use, it won’t get you the best result and could be dangerous.

Using Momentum

When doing a seated machine row, it’s key to have good form. Doing so will reduce injury risk. Some people use momentum to do the exercise – this reduces the resistance needed from the muscles and affects results.

Do controlled movements instead of quick and uncontrolled jerks. This keeps the targeted muscles under tension throughout the set. To increase engagement, pause briefly at the end of each rep – both in the eccentric (stretch) and concentric phase (shortening).

Good form means better results and faster progress in strengthening specific muscle groups. So, prioritize controlled movements when doing a seated machine row. And why not mix things up with different variations of the seated machine row? It’ll make your back workout anything but boring!

Variations of Seated Machine Row

To vary your seated machine row workouts with proper form and maximize muscle engagement, try these two sub-sections: narrow vs. wide grip and one arm variation.

These variations will introduce new challenges to your routine and help you avoid the common mistakes. Get ready to work different muscles and improve your fitness routine.

Narrow vs Wide Grip

Gripping the seated machine row is key. Go narrow for more bicep and upper back focus. Or, wide to engage the lower back. When it comes to gripping, you can also try underhand or overhand. Remember to stay safe and keep form. Pro tip: Shake it up by varying your grip for better back muscle gains. Oh, and don’t forget–you can even do the exercise with one arm!

One Arm Variation

Try out a unique machine row exercise with one arm! This variation targets specific muscles and helps build symmetry. Follow these steps:

  1. Set the machine to chest height and add weight to the side you’ll use.
  2. Grab the handle with one hand, using an overhand grip.
  3. Sit upright, feet flat on the ground, core engaged.
  4. Pull the handle towards your body, without rotating it. Squeeze at the top, then return to start.

Focus on good form – back straight, no twisting. Start with lighter weights to prevent injury and improve performance.

This variation is great for those with imbalances, or for building more stability and control. It was created by bodybuilders and is still popular among fitness fans who want a effective and efficient way to build muscle.

Row, row, row your gains, working out those back muscles and feeling the pains!

Muscles Worked in Seated Machine Row

To understand the muscles worked in seated machine row, look at the different areas of your upper body that are targeted during this exercise. The Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Biceps, and Forearms all play a crucial role in forming the proper posture during a seated machine row.

By targeting these specific muscles, you can improve your overall strength, stability, and posture, making this exercise an excellent addition to your workout routine.

Latissimus Dorsi

The muscles targeted in the seated machine row are essential for building a strong back. This exercise works the large muscle group from the lower spine to the humerus with different types of contraction. This includes adduction, depression and scapular inward rotation. By doing this exercise, you can strengthen these muscles for better posture and more power.

Strengthening the Latissimus Dorsi is essential to avoid injuries from weak upper body muscles. A stronger back helps keep proper spine alignment during activities like lifting heavy items or sitting for hours. It also boosts athletic performance through pulling movements.

Take advantage of seated machine rows to target the Latissimus Dorsi. Incorporate this exercise into your routine for improved posture, extra strength, and injury prevention. With consistency and hard work, you’ll get awesome results! Your rhomboids are the unsung heroes of your back muscles – they help you through each seated machine row.


The muscles between the shoulder blades are important for upper body strength exercises, such as the seated machine row. These muscles are called the rhomboid group; they do scapula retraction and stabilization when you pull. Activating these muscles during the seated machine row can help posture and reduce injury risk. Focus on the rhomboids and you can get a stronger upper back and better physical function.

Good form is key when trying to target the rhomboids. Keep a neutral spine and don’t lean too much or round your shoulders. This keeps tension on the right muscles and stops other muscles taking over.

Nowadays, people often have poor posture and weak upper bodies because of too much sitting. The seated machine row can reverse this and make you healthier.

It’s interesting to know that ancient Greeks also recognized how important strong upper backs were. Some Greek sculptures from 580 BC show athletes with well-defined rhomboids. This shows how important these muscles have been for thousands of years.


The trapezius is a key upper-back muscle group. It helps with scapula movement and posture. It also gives an athletic-looking physique. Plus, it can reduce tension headaches and improve shoulder mobility.

Seated machine rows are a great workout for this muscle group. A study from The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that it increases muscle activation levels and amplitude.

Be warned – you may become so buff from the bicep workout in seated machine row that you could be mistaken for the Incredible Hulk!


The brachialis and brachioradialis work together with the biceps during seated rows. These muscles are in charge of elbow flexion and add size to the upper arm. The biceps also aid in keeping grip strength, essential for back exercises.

To use your biceps best on the seated row machine, pull the weight towards you with palms facing up. This will help the biceps contract more and decrease the strain on your back. To further this, squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of each rep to maintain tension in the biceps.

It’s key to keep in mind that although biceps isolation isn’t possible with this exercise, mixing up angles and weights will make a huge difference in hypertrophy.

A professional powerlifter used to solely do seated rows for his back training until he noticed how much definition he got from using his bicep muscles properly. Your forearms will hurt, but eventually they’ll look amazing when you keep doing seated machine rows.


The forearm extensors and flexors play a major role in the seated machine row movement. Gripping the bar firmly engages these muscles, enabling the arms to pull and push.

When you pull the bar towards your chest, the forearm muscles contract, assisting in forearm flexion and extension. This motion also helps with wrist stability and pronation/supination.

For an extra effective workout, switch up your grip, such as going for an overhand or underhand grip. This will alter which muscles are being worked during the exercise.

Pro Tip: Maintain proper form to prevent forearm injury. This entails reducing strain on your wrists.

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