The Cable Row: How to Build Muscle and Avoid Mistakes

Updated: 21 hours ago


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The cable row is a great exercise for building muscle and strength. It targets the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms. In this article, we will discuss how to perform the cable row correctly, as well as some of the variations of the exercise. We will also focus on the common mistakes people make when doing the cable row.


Before we dive in: check out our full-body training program to develop a strong body and aesthetic physique; you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build muscle with an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


What muscles does the cable row work?


The cable row works the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms. The main muscle groups targeted by the cable row are:

  • latissimus dorsi (lats)

  • trapezius (traps)

  • rhomboids

  • biceps brachii


The function of the lats is to bring your arms down and back. The traps and rhomboids work together to stabilize your shoulder blades. The biceps brachii is responsible for flexing your elbow joint.


The cable row is a great exercise for building muscle and strength. It allows you to use a variety of weights and resistance levels. The cable row is also a compound exercise, meaning it works multiple joints and muscle groups simultaneously. This makes the cable row an efficient exercise for both building muscle and burning calories.


Now that we've talked about the muscles targeted by the cable row, let's discuss how to correctly perform the exercise.


How to Do the Cable Row


There are two main ways to perform the cable row: with a machine or with free weights. We will focus on the machine variation, as it is more commonly used and allows for greater stability.


When using a cable row machine, you will want to adjust the seat so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle and your feet are flat on the floor. You will also want to make sure that the weight stack is at a level that is comfortable for you to lift.


To perform the cable row:

  • To start the exercise, grasp the handle with an overhand grip (palms facing down).

  • Sit up tall and lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight. This is your starting position.

  • From here, row the handle back towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weight back.

  • Return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.


It's important to keep your back straight throughout the exercise. This will help you target the muscles in your back and avoid injury. You should also avoid jerking the weight or using momentum to lift the weight. Instead, focus on using your back muscles to control the weight.



Common Mistakes


One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the cable row is using too much weight. This can lead to bad form and puts you at risk for injury. It's important to use a weight that you can handle and focus on using good form.


Another common mistake is not squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the exercise. This can cause you to use momentum and put a strain on your lower back. Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your core engaged to avoid this mistake.


Finally, people often swing their torso as they row the weight back. This takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise and puts unnecessary stress on your lower back. Keep your torso still and focus on rowing the weight back with your arms.


Variations of the Cable Row


There are a few variations of the cable row that you can try to mix things up.


Variation #1: Landmine Row


The landmine row is a good exercise for beginners. It allows you to use a lighter weight and focus on good form.


To perform the landmine row:

  • Place one end of a barbell in a landmine (a device that holds the barbell in place).

  • Grasp the other end of the barbell with an overhand grip.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.

  • Keeping your back straight, row the barbell up to your chest.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weight up.

  • Lower the barbell back down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.


Common Mistakes


One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the landmine row is not keeping their back straight. This can cause you to round your lower back and put a strain on your spine. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core throughout the exercise.


Another common mistake is using too much weight. This can lead to bad form and puts you at risk for injury. Use a weight that you can handle and focus on using good form.


Variation #2: Bent-Over Barbell Row


The bent-over barbell row is a great exercise for building back muscle. It allows you to use a heavier weight and really focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together.


To perform the bent-over barbell row:

  • Start by holding a barbell in an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly.

  • Hinge at the hips and lower your torso down until it's parallel to the floor.

  • Keeping your back straight, row the barbell up to your chest.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weight up.

  • Lower the barbell back down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.


Common Mistakes


One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the bent-over barbell row is not keeping their back straight. This can cause you to round your lower back and put a strain on your spine. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core throughout the exercise.


Another common mistake is not keeping your torso parallel to the floor. This can cause you to use momentum and put a strain on your lower back. Make sure to keep your torso parallel to the floor and focus on rowing the weight up with your arms.


Variation #3: Pendlay Row


The Pendlay row is a great exercise for building back muscle. It's similar to the bent-over barbell row, but it starts from a dead stop, which really forces you to use your muscles.


To perform the Pendlay row:

  • Start by holding a barbell in an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly.

  • Hinge at the hips and lower your torso down until it's parallel to the floor.

  • Keeping your back straight, row the barbell up to your chest.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weight up.

  • Lower the barbell all the way down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.


Common Mistakes


One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the Pendlay row is not keeping their back straight. This can cause you to round your lower back and put a strain on your spine. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core throughout the exercise.


Another common mistake is not keeping the barbell close to your body. This can cause you to use momentum and put a strain on your lower back. Make sure to keep the barbell close to your body and focus on rowing the weight up with your arms.


Variation #4: Incline Prone Dumbbell Row


The incline prone dumbbell row is a great exercise for targeting your upper back. It's a great exercise to add to your back workout if you're looking to build muscle.


To perform the incline prone dumbbell row:

  • Start by lying face down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand.

  • Keeping your back straight, row the dumbbells up to your chest.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weights up.

  • Lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.


Common Mistakes


One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the incline prone dumbbell row is not keeping their back straight. This can cause you to round your lower back and put a strain on your spine. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core throughout the exercise.


Another common mistake is not keeping the dumbbells close to your body. This can cause you to use momentum and put a strain on your lower back. Make sure to keep the dumbbells close to your body and focus on rowing the weights up with your arms.


Variation #5: Machine T-Bar Row


The machine T-bar row is a great exercise for targeting your back muscles. It's a great exercise to add to your back workout if you're looking to build muscle.


To perform the machine T-bar row:

  • Start by standing in front of a T-bar row machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Bend down and grab the bar with an overhand grip.

  • Keeping your back straight, row the bar up to your chest.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the bar up.

  • Lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.


Common Mistakes


One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the machine T-bar row is not keeping their back straight. This can cause you to round your lower back and put a strain on your spine. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core throughout the exercise.


Another common mistake is not keeping the bar close to your body. This can cause you to use momentum and put a strain on your lower back. Make sure to keep the bar close to your body and focus on rowing the bar up with your arms.



Summary


The cable row is a great exercise for targeting your back muscles. It's a great exercise to add to your back workout if you're looking to build muscle. There are many variations of the cable row, and it's important to find one that works best for you. Common mistakes people make when doing the cable row are not keeping their back straight and not keeping the bar close to their body. Make sure to keep these things in mind when performing the exercise.


For a complete routine, check out our full-body training program to develop a strong body and aesthetic physique; you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build muscle with an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


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