Do the Bent-Over Cable Row to Beef Up Your Back

Cable workout routines are, rightly so, all the fashion for coaching your again. You aren’t sure by the downward power of gravity, which implies you will get inventive together with your train choice. Fixed rigidity from the cable confers numerous stimulus to your again, making it simple to activate your lats and getting an important pump.

Nevertheless, most cable back workouts require you to sit down down. Rather a lot. Whether or not you’re resting on a bench for a horizontal row, seated within the lat pulldown station, or taking a knee for face pulls, you have a tendency to offer numerous help — probably to the detriment of your core. 

A person doing the bent-over cable row.
Credit score: Thanumporn Thongkongkaew / Shutterstock

You’ll be able to flip the script on cable-based again coaching by performing the bent-over cable row as a substitute. This variation includes suspending your physique immobile when you row. You’ll activate your lats, positive, however count on one heck of a core workout as properly. Right here’s the best way to do it correctly.

Do the Bent-Over Cable Row

There’s multiple approach to arrange the bent-over cable row. More often than not, you’ll get this train going by setting an adjustable cable pillar to the bottom notch, near the ground. 

You’ll be able to row with any cable attachment you want. A v-bar deal with encourages an in depth grip and extra lat activation, whereas a straight bar will contain your higher again muscle tissues a bit extra. Regardless, the way you carry out the train stays the identical.

Step 1 — Set Your self Up

A person starting to do a bent-over cable row.
Credit score: Miyagi Health / Yotube

Set an adjustable cable to its lowest setting. Seize the deal with and take a full step backward to drag the cable taut. From right here, slowly hinge over and bend your knees barely. Permit the cable to drag your arms towards it. 

Coach’s Tip: Your torso must be roughly 45 levels relative to the ground. You must really feel rigidity in your posterior chain as properly.

Step 2 — Brace and Row 

S person doing the bent-over cable row at the gym.
Credit score: Thanumporn Thongkongkaew / Shutterstock

There must be a straight line from the cable machine, via the wire, and up your arm. When you’re aligned, inhale into your stomach and brace your abs. Then, row the cable attachment into your stomach. Hold your shoulders packed down, away out of your ears, and keep away from swaying.

Coach’s Tip: Hold your weight in your heels on this one, because the cable will try to drag your physique ahead. 

Bent-Over Cable Row Units and Reps

The setup could also be extra intricate than you’re used to, however the bent-over cable row is simply as versatile as every other back exercise. To realize power, hold your reps low and pull laborious. If you wish to construct up endurance from head to toe, ante up in your time below rigidity. Listed here are a number of choices:

  • To Acquire Power: Go for 3 or 4 units of 8 reps.
  • To Construct Endurance: Strive 2 or 3 units of 15 to twenty reps.
  • Your First Time: Hold it easy with 3 units of 10 reps. 

Frequent Bent-Over Cable Row Errors

Falling ahead is on the prime of the listing of issues that may go flawed throughout the bent-over cable row. Relaxation assured, although, that the one factor you’ll be able to actually harm is your delight. Listed here are a few errors to bear in mind throughout this train.

Letting the Weight Pull You

Any loaded cable exercise will try to drag you within the route of the wire, and the bent-over cable row isn’t any completely different. Fixing the attachment at its lowest setting will trigger you to really feel the urge to fall ahead and down as you carry out the train. Resist this by protecting your weight in your heels and bracing your core laborious from begin to end. 

Selecting an Awkward Peak

Probably the greatest elements of an train just like the bent-over cable row is its customizability. It isn’t like a lat pulldown, the place the cable is fastened into an unmoving attachment. You’ll be able to alter your angle of pull to make sure that you’re getting one of the best muscular contraction attainable, so take time to fiddle with the place you set the cable, or the angle you are taking together with your torso. 

Bent-Over Cable Row Variations

There aren’t too some ways to change up the bent-over cable row, however that doesn’t imply there’s nothing you are able to do in any respect. Listed here are a number of minor variations to attempt, centering round unilateral stimulation or including extra stability.

Half-Kneeling Cable Row

A low cable row may really feel nice in your again, but when you end up focusing extra on bracing your core than coaching your lats, you’ve bought a problem value addressing. Strive utilizing a seated row station as a substitute to copy an identical motion.

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Kneel towards the bench such that its edge is pushing into the hip of your downward leg. You’ll have a extra upright torso right here, however the trade-off is extra stability and a bigger vary of movement.

Single-Arm Bent-Over Cable Row

If you wish to double-down on the soundness calls for of the bent-over cable row, pull with one arm as a substitute of two. This provides an anti-rotary ingredient to the train; your physique should resist the power of the cable pulling you ahead and leaning into your working half.

The execution is an identical to the usual two-armed cable row. You’ll be able to place your non-working hand in your hip or lengthen your arm out to your aspect for steadiness. Simply keep in mind to maintain your core snugly braced and don’t twist your torso. 

Bent-Over Cable Row Options

Just like the bent-over cable row in precept, however not in apply? No biggie. Strive a few of these alternate options — they carefully mirror the train, however with a brand new spin.

Chest-Supported T-Bar Row

When you have this machine in your fitness center, tear it up. The chest-supported T-bar row mimics the posture of a bent-over cable row, however removes the problem of the cable pulling your torso ahead altogether.

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This frees you as much as put all of your effort into your again. You should utilize this machine with an in depth or broad grip relying in your choice and safely return it into the holster once you’re finished together with your set.

Dumbbell Seal Row

You’ll be able to attempt the dumbbell seal row as a substitute when you desire to work with free weights, or if all of the cable stations are taken. All you want for this one is an adjustable bench. Seize some mild dumbbells to start out — this one is deceptively troublesome.

Set the bench to a couple of 45-degree angle and prop your chest up on it. Permit your arms to hold down beneath you. You’ll be able to lay your total torso down on the bench or stand on straight legs; doing so will make the train more difficult. 

Muscular tissues Labored by the Bent-Over Cable Row

To get essentially the most worth out of your time within the fitness center, it’s essential perceive how your muscle tissues really work. Listed here are the main muscle teams concerned within the bent-over cable row, and what they do throughout each rep.

Latissimus Dorsi

Your latissimus dorsi, or lats, are a pair of fan-shaped muscle tissues that line the again of your torso. They start means down by your lumbar backbone and attain all the way in which up onto your shoulder blade and higher arm.

In the course of the bent-over cable row, your lats contract to drag your arm — and no matter you’re holding — into your torso. The bent-over cable row is, above all, a lat-strengthening train.


Your trapezius muscle tissues are a trio of tissues that sit squarely in the course of your higher again. Your higher, center, and decrease traps primarily have an effect on motion at and round your shoulder blade.

A shirtless person showing their back muscles.
Credit score: ThomsonD / Shutterstock

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In the course of the bent-over cable row, these muscle tissues contract to drag your shoulder blade again. They supply assistive stability to your shoulder blade so bigger muscle tissues like your lats can contract strongly. 


Your core isn’t a single muscle; it’s an online of various tissues situated all throughout your torso. These muscle tissues assist create stability when you transfer your limbs in area. In the course of the bent-over cable row, your abs contract isometrically to withstand the ahead pull of the cable itself. 

On the flipside, your erector spinae (that’s, your decrease again) performs an identical perform to maintain your pelvis locked in place. 


All row actions will work your arms to some extent. Your biceps brachii have one job solely; to bend your elbow towards resistance. Whenever you carry out the bent-over cable row, the second half of the vary of movement includes loads of elbow flexion. You’ll discover that you simply want sturdy biceps to drag the deal with all the way in which into your chest.

Advantages of the Bent-Over Cable Row

Desire a larger, stronger again? Verify. Want to enhance your midline stability? Simple pickings. The bent-over cable row has so much to supply; right here’s what you stand to achieve.

Fixed Rigidity on Your Again

For newer gymgoers specifically, establishing a superb mind-muscle connection is likely one of the hardest elements of coaching their backs. The bent-over cable row might help you perceive the best way to contract your again higher than a dumbbell or barbell row.

The fixed rigidity of the cable supplies fixed suggestions; it’s constantly difficult from begin to end. In the event you’ve struggled to make use of your again muscle tissues correctly, think about ditching the free weights and dealing with cables as a substitute.

Extra Midline Stability

In the event you’re strapped for time or need to prioritize practical workout routines, it is best to choose again actions just like the bent-over cable row. By standing upright and combating the pull of the cable, you’ll be able to develop a number of athletic qualities without delay. Particularly midline stability.

A persons standing more upright during a cable row.
Credit score: Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock

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A robust, immovable core is integral to performing properly throughout the board. You should utilize the bent-over cable row for a little bit of “free” core coaching, even once you aren’t doing a devoted ab workout

Accessible and Simple 

You’ll be able to’t deny the advantages of an train that’s simple to carry out at a second’s discover. It may be troublesome at instances to get in a superb exercise in case your fitness center is packed to the brim. You could be unable to comply with your routine as-written, necessitating some improvisation. 

The bent-over cable row is handy and straightforward to carry out. Cable stations are pretty plentiful in most gyms, whereas lat pulldowns or accessible barbells could also be sparse. The approach can be fairly easy, making it an important grab-and-go choice.

Who Ought to Do the Bent-Over Cable Row

Questioning if the bent-over cable row is the appropriate again train for you? In the event you fall into one among these camps, or end up in one of many following conditions, it simply is likely to be.

Inexperienced persons

For newcomers to weight coaching, consolation and sustainability is precedence primary. If an train requires an excessive amount of effort to stabilize, it may well rapidly develop into extra irritating than productive.

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Take the barbell row; it really works lots of the similar muscle tissues because the bent-over cable row, however requires sturdy decrease again stability. Missing lumbar power might inhibit your efficiency. The bent-over cable row removes many of the auxiliary calls for of rowing a free weight, permitting you to comfortably concentrate on coaching your again.

These Pressed for Time

Within the fitness center, time is sort of actually of the essence. Each second issues, and you could not at all times have the time to rig your self an advanced again motion. You want one thing that’s, basically, plug-and-play.

The bent-over cable row works wonders right here. Cable stations are simply adjustable, without having to haul weight plates round or await a barbell rack to open up. Connect the deal with you need, place the pin at an acceptable stage, and get proper to work.


For the physique-minded bodybuilder, mechanical rigidity is the secret. All cable workout routines will present constant resistance to the muscle in query. That is significantly true of the bent-over cable row, which tends to align very properly with the fibers of your lats and traps. It additionally places a recent spin on the movement pattern of a row, which can induce some muscle progress all by itself. 

Blast Your Again

There’s completely no disgrace in building an entire workout program across the cable station. Cables are intuitive, accessible, and above all, versatile. In relation to coaching your again, the bent-over cable row is likely to be proper up your alley. Give it a spin throughout your subsequent again exercise.


Nonetheless questioning in regards to the bent-over cable row? We’ve bought you coated.

Featured Picture: Thanumporn Thongkongkaew / Shutterstock

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