How to Do the Chest-Supported Row for a Bigger and Stronger Back

You stroll right into a crowded fitness center in your upper-body or pulling day and also you’re able to do your rows, however you discover that all the barbells are taken. Right here’s what you must do: spot an open weight bench close to the dumbbells, get ahold of a pair of ‘bells and get to work. The chest-supported row is a superb upper-body exercise that builds your biceps and again with further help.

Supporting your chest throughout a row is a protected approach to load your again muscle groups with out sacrificing kind. For those who’re a seasoned lifter you’re going to have the ability to pull a bit heavier as you isolate the motion; for learners, this can be a nice train to discover ways to retract your shoulder blades and have interaction your muscle groups with out taxing your backbone.

A muscular person doing chest-supported dumbbells rows.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Again workouts help a wholesome posture and rowing with dumbbells offers you the advantages of unilateral training as properly. There’s quite a bit to like on this one. Let’s dive into how and why to do the chest-supported row and a few options and variations to alter issues up.

Find out how to Do the Chest-Supported Row

The chest-supported row entails utilizing a bench for built-in stability so you may shield your decrease again and hammer your lats safely. 

You’ll goal your biceps and again as you press into the ground and the bench that will help you have interaction your core and glutes. Right here’s a step-by-step breakdown for the train. You’ll want an adjustable weight bench and a few dumbbells, however do word you could carry out a chest-supported row with principally any sort of free weight.

Step 1 — Lay Down on the Bench

A person doing the chest supported row.
Credit score: OPEX Health / Youtube

Set your bench to a forty five diploma incline. Seize your dumbbells and lie chest-down on the bench. Maintain your weights by your sides together with your palms dealing with one another. Press your toes into the ground and squeeze your glutes and abs to start constructing stress. 

Coach’s Tip: Urgent into the bench helps create stability. Take a second right here to create most stress from the beginning place.

Step 2 — Row the Weights

A person doing the chest supported row.
Credit score: OPEX Health / Youtube

Provoke the chest-supported row by retracting your shoulder blades after which observe by by pulling your elbows up towards the ceiling. Preserve your higher arm tucked tight to your torso the entire means.

Coach’s Tip: Preserve a impartial backbone by retaining your abs engaged. Attempt to retract your shoulder blades with out overly extending your backbone.

Step 3 — Decrease the Weights Again Down

A person performing the chest supported row.
Credit score: OPEX Health / Youtube

After pausing momentarily, slowly decrease your weights again in direction of the ground, retaining your elbows in. Preserve stress by retaining your shoulders down and abs engaged. Keep engaged on the backside of the carry. 

Coach’s Tip: Shifting slowly with management in the course of the eccentric part — or reducing down — of an train might help you build muscle and energy.

Chest-Supported Row Units and Reps

Whether or not your objective is hypertrophy, energy, or endurance, you’ll wish to select your units and reps accordingly. Listed below are a few other ways you may program the chest-supported row:

  • For Muscle Mass: Do 4 units of 10 reps. It is best to be capable to do one or two extra reps on the finish of every set, so you may full all 4 with good kind.
  • For Energy: Carry out 5 units of 5 reps with heavy dumbbells.
  • For Endurance: Do three units of 15 reps. Select a reasonable load you could keep your kind by your high reps

Widespread Chest-Supported Row Errors

The chest-supported row is less complicated than the bent-over row within the sense that your physique doesn’t must work as exhausting to stabilize your posterior chain. The additional help could make the train appear simpler, however there’s a couple of widespread errors that you have to be aware of.

Going Too Heavy, Too Quickly

For those who’re used to doing heavy rows with a barbell, you understandably would possibly assume you may instantly load up the chest-supported row. Nonetheless, holding two heavy dumbbells could tax your grip prior to you might be used to and trigger you to drop the weights and fail. Begin with a weight you may comfortably do 10 reps with and go from there. 

Overly Extending Your Backbone

For learners simply studying the movement pattern of rowing, it’s widespread to hyperextend your thoracic backbone when making an attempt to retract your scapula. If the cue to squeeze your shoulder blades collectively throws you off, take into consideration additionally driving your elbows in direction of the ceiling. 

A person doing the chest-supported dumbbell row with an arched back.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Throughout the chest-supported row, you shouldn’t be arching your again to the purpose of your chest peeling off the bench.

Utilizing Momentum (As an alternative of Management)

In case you are trying to build strength or muscle with an train just like the chest-supported row, it’s higher to lean into the design of the motion and prioritize strict management over unfastened momentum. Have interaction your muscle groups on the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (reducing) phases. You can even pause for a second on the prime of the carry. 

For those who’re unable to carry out these actions with management you might wish to decrease the burden to construct up some extra energy.

Chest-Supported Row Variations

You’ll be able to change some facets of the chest-supported row for those who’d love to do a variation. For instance, attempt doing it unilaterally to coach one facet at a time, or decrease the peak of the bench to extend issue. Listed below are a couple of chest-supported row variations to check out.

Chest-Supported Single-Arm Row

If you wish to goal one facet of your again at a time, attempt the chest-supported single-arm dumbbell row. In case you have an asymmetry in your energy, muscle, or mobility, unilateral exercises might help even issues out.

There are a couple of methods to method unilateral free-weight workouts. You’ll be able to alternate sides — depart your left arm down whereas your proper arm rows, decrease your proper arm, row your left arm, and proceed. You can even depart your left arm down when you full reps in your proper facet, after which change sides.

Lastly, do this with an isometric maintain. Row each arms up, after which maintain your left arm on the prime of the carry when you full reps together with your proper facet.

Seal Row 

The seal row is a kind of chest-supported row that requires an elevated flat bench. By altering the angle of the bench, you’ll discover that you’ve much less leverage and an extended vary of movement. 

[Read More: At-Home Workouts for Strength, Muscle Growth, Power, and More]

The complete-body help of the seal row protects your decrease again whereas additionally including in a small aspect of steadiness, since no a part of your physique is related to the ground as you row.

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

If you wish to attempt a non-supported variation give the usual bent-over row a shot. Word that this development doesn’t contain supporting the non-working facet of your physique on a bench. 

The bent-over dumbbell row offers the identical stage of problem to your higher again muscle groups whereas calling your posterior chain into motion as properly. Anticipate this motion to tax your decrease again, glutes, hamstrings, and core in equal measure. 

Chest-Supported Row Alternate options

If the chest-supported row isn’t doable for you, listed here are a couple of options. You’ll nonetheless be constructing pulling energy whereas working your again, lats, and biceps with these actions, although, relaxation assured. 

Seated Cable Row

The seated position of the cable row provides you some help, however you’ll have to make use of your core to keep up an excellent posture and impartial backbone. Altering up your tools is usually a good problem in your physique; cables present extra constant mechanical stress than free weights, and your again will definitely really feel the distinction.

You’ll be able to play with a close-grip deal with or wide-grip deal with to focus on completely different muscle groups in your again. Newcomers will profit from studying this motion with a lightweight weight, however superior lifters can go a bit heavier. Watch out to not hyperextend your backbone as you retract your shoulders and maintain your ribs down.

You can even do a single-arm cable row with one deal with, however use two palms if you wish to maintain it just like the chest-supported row.


A TRX row is a bodyweight exercise, however don’t underestimate it. You’ll study to maintain your full physique engaged as you utilize your again muscle groups, lats, and biceps to drag your self up. To make this train just like the chest-supported row, flip your palms to face one another with a impartial grip.

[Read More: Learn the Best TRX Exercises for Your Experience Level]

Preserve your physique straight by participating your core and squeezing your glutes. To progress this row, regularly modify your physique such that it’s nearer to parallel to the ground, moderately than standing upright. 

Inverted Row

The inverted row is a extra superior body weight row, usually carried out whereas holding onto a barbell. Inverted rows usually require you to make use of an overhand grip, nevertheless, you may maintain the bar together with your palms supinated to get your biceps into the sport as properly. 

Inverted rows might help you construct body weight pulling energy that can carry over to different actions akin to pull-ups. They’ll work your higher and mid-back and are one other alternative to observe good spinal mechanics as you retract your shoulder blades.

Muscle tissue Labored by the Chest-Supported Row

The chest-supported row is an upper-body train that works nearly each muscle in your higher again (aside from your lumbar backbone, in fact). Listed below are the foremost muscle teams at play. 

Latissimus Dorsi

Your latissimus dorsi (lats) are your largest again muscle groups. Your lats are liable for retaining your arm in direction of the center of your physique, or adducting, as you row your dumbbell. (1) Your lats additionally help in scapular actions, and are the prime mover throughout all rowing variations, together with the chest-supported row. (1)


Your trapezius, or traps, are comprised of three components: higher traps, mid traps, and decrease traps. Your traps operate to maneuver and stabilize your scapula. Your mid-traps are liable for scapular retraction. (2) Your decrease traps assist to depress your scapulae which is essential to maintain your shoulders flattening while you carry out your rows.


Your rhomboids are a pair of deep muscle groups in between your shoulder blades. They help in transferring your higher arms and stabilizing your shoulders and scapulae. (3) While you squeeze your shoulder blades collectively on the prime of your row your rhomboids are working. 

A person's back with arms flexed.
Credit score: Ollyy / Shutterstock

These muscle groups are sometimes underworked for those who sit slouching at your desk, and strengthening them by workouts just like the chest-supported row could assist to improve your posture.


Your biceps encompass a protracted head and a brief head within the entrance of your arm. Your biceps are liable for flexing your forearm and help in flexing your elbow. (4) As your again muscle groups work to retract your scapulae, your biceps assist your arm bend on the prime of your row. Notably, your biceps additionally assist in stabilizing your shoulder blades. (4)

[Read More: The Best Biceps Exercises For Greater Growth]

Your biceps are additionally liable for supinating your forearm. For those who go for a supinated grip in your rows, you’ll get some extra biceps work in.

Advantages of the Chest-Supported Row

The chest-supported row is all about that help. You’ll have some built-in stability that can shield your again and mean you can focus exhausting on the muscle groups that matter. Coaching your again can profit your posture, and utilizing dumbbells helps to deal with imbalances. 

Constructed-In Stability Has Bought Your Again

In any train, it’s all the time necessary to have interaction your core to withstand spinal motion beneath load. The chest-supported row ensures you some further stability and, when you nonetheless must maintain your backbone nonetheless, it’s total a lot simpler than doing any type of unassisted bent-over row.

[Read More: The Easiest Ways to Effectively Train Through Injuries]

Unassisted rows are nice, however might not be appropriate for you in all instances. For example, in case you are recovering from a again harm, the chest-supported row could also be a viable various to nonetheless hit your rows with further safety.

You Would possibly Be Capable of Carry Heavier

Supporting your backbone could allow you to carry heavier weights, because you don’t want to fret about bracing your core or flexing your decrease again all through your units. 

[Read More: How To Train The Brain For Bigger Lifts In The Gym]

As such, the chest-supported row helps you to put your entire focus and vitality into your higher physique. This will likely mean you can carry heavier, and may be useful in case your objective is hypertrophy or energy. Older adults and anybody who could have limitations with standing may also profit from lifting heavier with added help. You’ll be able to reap the bone well being advantages of weight lifting whereas limiting exterior threat elements.

Get the Advantages of Unilateral Coaching

Lifting dumbbells offers you the benefits of unilateral training — working one facet of your physique at a time. In case you have energy, muscle, mobility, or stability imbalances, unilateral lifting could assist to even them out. (5

Within the chest-supported row, even in case you are lifting each arms on the similar time, holding a separate weight in every hand will name for extra recruitment and stabilization of every facet than rowing with a barbell

The energy good points you make with unilateral rowing could carry over to your bilateral rows. Unilateral coaching has additionally been proven to doubtlessly enhance sports activities efficiency. (5)

Might Enhance Posture

Coaching your higher and mid-back could assist enhance your posture. Spending time sitting at your desk or taking a look at your cellphone may cause your shoulders to spherical and your head to jut ahead. Some literature has proven that common train might help scale back the ache and stress in your backbone brought on by sitting. (6)

[Read More: The Best Posture Exercises To Help Ease Back Pain]

Though you can be sitting within the chest-supported row, you need to use the additional help as a chance to actually concentrate on pulling your head up, miserable your shoulders, and sustaining a impartial backbone. Strengthening your higher and mid-back muscle groups might help help a wholesome backbone and posture.

Who Ought to Do the Chest-Supported Row

The chest-supported row may be useful for lifters of all ranges. For those who fall into certainly one of these camps, it’d simply be the train for you. 


For those who’re new to energy coaching, the seated place and the stabilization offered by the chest-supported row will allow you to study to have interaction your core and resist spinal motion. 

A muscular person starting to do the chest-supported dumbbells rows.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

You’ll be able to study the horizontal pulling sample and tips on how to retract your scapula with out overly extending your backbone. When you’re new to the fitness center, you may make a number of progress rapidly, and also you’ll profit from safely lifting heavier on this place to start out strengthening your higher physique. 


Bodybuilders can take the chest-supported row as a chance to focus on particular person muscle groups like their rear deltoids. You can even change the angle of the bench, your grip, and hand place in your dumbbells to hit completely different facets of your again or domesticate a robust mind-muscle connection.

[Read More: The Best Bodybuilding Ab Workout For Your Experience Level]

The chest-supported row could also be a compound train, however the seated place provides you an opportunity to actually hone in in your higher again. Working with heavy dumbbells may even allow you to construct up your forearm muscle groups.

Energy Athletes

For energy athletes trying to transfer as a lot weight as attainable, slowing it down with a unilateral chest-supported row might help you construct energy that can carry over to your major lifts. Training your grip with dumbbells will also be useful if you find yourself coaching with barbells.

The chest-supported row works your lats and might help you stabilize your shoulders. Hitting your biceps right here can be going to assist improve your pulling energy. It may be an ideal accent motion to throw in if you find yourself altering up your program.

Assist Your self

The chest-supported row is a superb train that can majorly strengthen your again and biceps from a seated place. That further help offers you some built-in stability to guard your backbone so that you could possibly carry a little bit heavier. 

This makes it splendid for anybody from learners to superior lifters. If the fitness center is packed otherwise you simply need a break from barbells to alter it up, seize some dumbbells and check out it out.


Bought questions in regards to the chest-supported row? Let’s get you some solutions.

Is the chest-supported row unhealthy for my decrease again?

The chest-supported row could also be safer in your decrease again than a standing variation. Since you do not want to help your full physique weight and maintain the hip hinge place, you may focus extra in your kind together with your higher physique.

What different tools can I take advantage of for the chest-supported row?

The chest-supported row may be carried out with a barbell although it’s a little bit troublesome to arrange. You are able to do it with cables or as a seated row on a machine with chest help. You can even check out the T-bar row.

Will the chest-supported row work my shoulders?

The chest-supported row primarily targets your higher and mid-back in addition to your lats and biceps. It can additionally hit your rear deltoids. Your shoulders will assist to stabilize this motion. Coaching it may be useful to the well being, stability, and mobility of your shoulders.


  1. Jeno SH, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Again, Latissimus Dorsi. [Updated 2023 Mar 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. 
  2. Ourieff J, Scheckel B, Agarwal A. Anatomy, Again, Trapezius. 2023 Mar 11. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. 
  3. Farrell C, Kiel J. Anatomy, Again, Rhomboid Muscle tissue. 2022 Might 20. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–.
  4. Tiwana MS, Charlick M, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Higher Limb, Biceps Muscle. [Updated 2022 Aug 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. 
  5. Liao KF, Nassis GP, Bishop C, Yang W, Bian C, Li YM. Results of unilateral vs. bilateral resistance coaching interventions on measures of energy, leap, linear and alter of route velocity: a scientific evaluation and meta-analysis. Biol Sport. 2022 Sep;39(3):485-497. 
  6. Kim D, Cho M, Park Y, Yang Y. Impact of an train program for posture correction on musculoskeletal ache. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Jun;27(6):1791-4.

Featured Picture: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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