Beginner’s Guide to the Seated Row Machine

One of the issues many people face in a gym is not knowing how to use the equipment. You can be ready to go, motivated to the max with your favorite pump-up music rocking in your headphones, but if you don’t know how to properly work the machines you are sunk right from the onset of your workout.

Fortunately, that’s one of the easiest problems to fix. How? Ask someone on the fitness staff to help you! That is exactly what we are there for—If you aren’t sure how to use the weird looking machine in the corner and the instructions on the machine’s label aren’t helping, grab the nearest person with a name tag and have them show you. They will be happy to show you how to use it instead of seeing you limp away from it because you hurt yourself from using it improperly.

This article will focus on how to use the seated row machine. It’s a great machine for building back, core, and arm strength (and even a little leg strength). Since the muscles in your back are important for maintaining good posture, they need to be strong to keep your spine in good alignment throughout the day. As you get older, a strong back will keep you from hunching over, which causes a whole host of issues. Here are some things to keep in mind as you use the seated row machine:

  • Don’t lock your legs out. That puts a lot of undue stress on the knee joints.
  • Engage your core to stabilize your spine throughout the lift.
  • Mentally engage your back muscles. You should feel more work being done by your back than by your biceps.
  • Don’t lean back and forth. We aren’t sculling. Keep your back upright.
  • Keep your shoulder blades tucked down. Your shoulders shouldn’t be hunched up to your ears.
  • Don’t forget to breathe! Breathe out as you row back, and in as you return to the starting position.

Seated Row Machine How To & Tips Video:

As always, don’t let your ego get in the way. If you can’t row all the way back or can’t do so without leaning back, you’re trying to lift too much weight. Decrease the weight and build your strength up with proper form until you can safely increase the amount you lift. Remember, the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the lift is just as important as the concentric (shortening) phase! Don’t let the weights just slam back on the stack. Lower them down in a controlled fashion to build a more complete strength.

Next time you hit the gym, give the seated row machine a try! If you aren’t sure what it looks like or want someone to make sure you’re doing it properly, please ask a staff person in the fitness center or weight room. Your body will thank you.

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Elite Trainer Jordan Meyer Headshot

Written by Jordan Meyer, CPT – Certified Personal Trainer & Group Exercise Instructor at Elite Sports Club-North Shore

Jordan Meyer is a personal trainer at the North Shore location of the Elite Sports Clubs. He holds a personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine and a BS in Exercise Science and Health promotion from UW-Oshkosh. He specializes in body weight fitness and athletic training, and enjoys working with young athletes who are preparing for a variety of sports. Jordan has had the pleasure of coaching many different sports at a variety of levels, ranging from four year olds who are just learning the basics, to Division 3 men’s rugby. He has played organized sports since he was five years old and still plays rugby three seasons a year. In his free time, he enjoys training for and competing in challenge races such as the Tough Mudder and Spartan Race.

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