The Seated Row is an appropriate exercise for almost everyone. It doesn’t place the shoulder joint under the same forces as a bench press or shoulder press and can even be used (carefully) when suffering from rotator cuff-type injuries. It is ideal for developing the neuromuscular pattern that allows your shoulder blade to glide efficiently and develop a strong base for any upper body movement. Here are 6 tips for great technique and proper strength development:


1. Maintain a neutral spine:

There are a variety of different seated row machines but you should always be able to hold your spine neutral. A neutral spine is most simply defined as maintaining the normal natural curvature of your spine as you would when standing without any external load. Note that straight is not necessarily neutral. 


2. Do not extend at your hip joint or through your lumbar vertebrae:

If you lean back, rock back or push back through your legs, you are fundamentally changing the movement of a seated row. This is not necessarily dangerous but you are changing the exercise from loadin the muscles of your user back to your lower back and leg muscles. If you would like to do this there are better exercises. It is best to keep the exercise strict for maximum benefit. That means that your scapula (shoulder blades) should be gliding smoothly across your rib cage and only your shoulder and elbow joint should otherwise be moving. 


3. Relax your upper trapezius:

By relaxing your upper trapezius you are also allowing the mid back scapula stabilising muscles to gain maximum benefit. If you aren’t sure where your upper trapezius is, it is the muscles at the top of your back (the first muscles someone grabs when they give you a message). If you want to work your upper trapezius, there are also better exercises.


4. Breathe out as you pull and in as you release:

It sounds simple but it is really easy to lose track of your breathing especially once you start pushing the weight up.


5. Draw your attention to your shoulder blades and the arms will take care of themselves:

If you train yourself to have a stable shoulder joint and efficient movement through your mid-back you will find this stability translates to more strength through your whole arm movement.


6. Shoulders first, arms second:

For beginners and those with some shoulder function it is an effective drill to practice initiating the movement with your shoulders and follow with your arms. This will ensure that you are recruiting the correct muscles and developing a correct neuromuscular pattern. 


Please share and comment below on what exercise you would like some some tips on next!