We’ve covered helpful alternatives to pull-ups and chin-ups, sure, but those of you who incorporate some kind of row in your fitness regimen of choice are still stuck doing the same old thing. This week, though, leave the rowing to the crew team and check out these fitness pros’ suggestions for shaking things up a bit.
Ben Booker: Dumbbell reverse flyes. When performed correctly, this exercise is a great back and rear delt builder that is an effective alternative to the row. It also doesn’t require heavy weight to achieve great results. Sit on the edge of a bench and lean as far forward as you can while maintaining a flat back. Pick up the dumbbells from behind the heels and underneath the legs. With the elbows slightly bent, swing the dumbbells up while squeezing the shoulder blades together.
Robin Arzon: Plank to alternating dumbbell row. Begin in plank position with dumbbells in each hand. Alternate your row motion between your right and left arms, stabilizing your body with the planted arm. This exercise isolates your hips and core, in addition to the back.
Jay Cardiello: Wall shoulder blade contractions. Stand tall with your back against the wall. Raise your elbows up until your triceps are parallel to floor with your hands extended in front of body. Walk your heels six inches forward away from the wall, leaving the mid-section of your back and the back of head against wall. Contract your shoulder blades and drive your elbows into the wall, lifting your mid-back and head away from wall. Your elbows should always remain in contact with the wall. Slowly reverse the movement, and repeat.
Idalis Velazquez: TRX inverted row. Try performing a row using the TRX suspension system. By lifting one leg during the motion, you’ll place a greater demand on your core, which will help prevent you from swinging from side to side during the motion.
Gideon Akande: Switch out your equipment. Make your row movement more functional by using a battle rope and a kettlebell. Tie the end of the rope around the handle of a kettlebell, and in an athletic, tug-of-war style stance, pull the rope hand over hand, keeping your core engaged and driving your elbows back, like so. This will engage the legs as you stabilize, your core as you rotate, and your arm and back as you pull.
Alexia Clark: Inverted reach. Starting in an inverted row position—that’s the one that uses the squat cage—grab the bar with one hand and position it in the center of your chest. Keep your core tight to prevent your hips from dropping. Pull yourself up, and then reach over across your body with the hand that is not gripping the bar, like this. (The closer your feet are to your body and/or the more your knees are bent, the easier the exercise will be.) Slowly lower and repeat. This exercise isolates each side and simultaneously engages your core.
Watch Now: A 3-Minute Leg Workout You Can Do at Home
For those who don’t have a cable row machine at the gym, try these seated cable row alternative exercises to train the back with.
RELATED: 9 Best Trapezius Exercises For A Bigger And Stronger Back
In this article:
- Benefits of Seated Cable Rows
- Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
- Seated Band Row
- Incline Dumbbell Row
- T-Bar Row
- Barbell Bent-Over Deadlift
- Inverted T-RX Cable Row
- Wide-Grip Pull-Ups
- 7 Back Routine-Must-Add Seated Cable Row Alternative Exercises
- How To Do A Resistance Band Row
- How To Do Resistance Band Rows:
- What Muscles Do Resistance Band Rows Work?
- Benefits of Resistance Band Rows:
- How Many Calories Does Resistance Band Row Burn?
- Other Exercises Similar to Resistance Band Row
- Incorporating Resistance Band Rows Into Your Workouts
- Best Single Arm Rowing Exercise
- Advantages Of Rowing Exercises
- Seated Band Rows
7 Back Routine-Must-Add Seated Cable Row Alternative Exercises
Benefits of Seated Cable Rows
A complete, impressive back has the thickness and not just the width. When training this muscle group, hitting different individual muscles from different angles is crucial.
Hitting and emphasizing the traps and lats, seated cable rows can help build back thickness. Additionally, this compound movement can also work the erector spinae, rear deltoids, biceps, biceps brachialis, and forearm flexors.
For those looking for a different way to work their back the same way seated cable rows do, these 7 exercises below can be just as effective.
1. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
Dumbbell bent-over rows are a very effective alternative to seated cable rows.
Dumbbell bent-over rows can be a unilateral rowing movement. This means each side of the body is independently trained from the other.
With bilateral movements like barbell rows, lifters tend to cheat a rep by using their strong arm to compensate for the weaker one. This may result in strength and muscle imbalances and dumbbell bent-over rows can remedy such imbalances.
Muscle Worked: trapezius, infraspinatus, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres major, teres minor, posterior deltoid
- Stand with dumbbells in each hand, palms facing one’s sides. Bend the knees, move the torso forward by bending at the waist, and keep the back straight.
- With the torso still, bring the dumbbells up to one’s sides while breathing out. Keep the elbows close to the body and avoid exerting any force with the forearms.
- At the top of the movement, squeeze and feel the back contract for a moment.
- Bring the weights down slowly while inhaling and repeat to finish the set.
2. Seated Band Row
Resistance bands allow you to easily do seated rows at home.
Looking for a way to do a seated row at home? Seated band rows are one of the best no equipment back exercises there is.
Muscle Worked: rhomboids, latissimus dorsi
- Sit back and wrap the resistance band on the soles. Grab on the end of each band stretching them close to the thighs.
- Extend the arms in front and pull the band back as far as possible towards the abs.
- Pause for a second squeezing the back and shoulders together.
- Release and extend the arms back to the starting position. Repeat to finish the set.
3. Incline Dumbbell Row
Incline Dumbbell Row GIF by Giphy
With a bench to give added support and stability, one will be able to lift more load. As you know, the more the load, the more the muscle strain, the more the gains.
Muscle Worked: latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps
- Lean onto an incline bench with dumbbells in each hand.
- Extend the arms fully bringing the weights close to the floor.
- Drive the shoulders back and bend the elbows to row the weight to the side.
- At the top of the movement, pause and squeeze and feel the back muscles contract. Repeat to finish the set.
4. T-Bar Row
When doing T-Bar rows, one can lift weights with the hands close together using a neutral grip — one where the palms face each other — allowing for lifting much heavier loads. This is the strongest position for pulling.
Aside from being an effective “back-thickener,” it also brings the added benefit of training a few more muscles groups including the shoulders, biceps, and brachialis. Additionally, the abs, glutes, and hamstrings are also included in this movement for stability.
Muscle Worked: lats, teres major (little lat), trapezius and erector spinae
- Attach a bar to a landmine or position it in a corner to keep it from moving. Load it with the desired weight.
- Stand over the bar. Attach a Double D row handle if desired.
- For the starting position, get on a wide stance and bend at the waist down to about 30 degrees in front. Extend the arms and grab on the handle or wrap the palms around the bar slightly below the weights.
- Bring the weights up close to the chest by drawing the shoulders back and flexing the elbow. As much as possible, avoid cheating by jerking the weight during the movement.
- At the top of the movement, pause and feel the back muscles contract.
- Return to the starting position and repeat as desired.
RELATED: Build Your Back Muscles With These 7 Back Exercises With Dumbbells
5. Barbell Bent-Over Deadlift
Barbell bent-over rows are one of the best overall back building exercises. It allows one to lift more weight and according to an EMG research, this movement can equally work larger muscle groups of the upper and lower back.
EMG Definition: This is a procedure that can measure the quantity of electrical signal sent by motor neurons that makes muscles contract. EMG or electromyography can measure the amount of force exerted on a muscle making it possible to record how active a muscle is during an exercise.
Much like a deadlift, this move is quite technical and requires a proper form. The outcome of doing this effectively though sure is really rewarding, both gains and confidence-wise.
Muscle Worked: latissimus dorsi and rhomboids
- Load a barbell with the desired weight on the floor.
- Hold it with the palms down, slightly bent knees and torso brought slightly forward. Do this by bending at the waist as you keep the back straight, bringing it almost parallel to the floor.
- Lift the barbell close to the abs as you breathe out, keeping the torso unmoved. Remember to keep the elbows close to the body and bring most of the weight to the forearms.
- Once the barbell is up, pause for a moment and squeeze the back muscles.
- Slowly bring the barbell down while you inhale and repeat to finish the set.
6. Inverted T-RX Cable Row
The added benefits of doing inverted T-RX cable rows include better midline stabilization and body awareness. Training these two aspects can improve one’s strength, posture, and performance.
Muscle Worked: latissimus dorsi, biceps
- Hang the suspension straps or rope from a rack. Grab the ends and hang from the straps putting the body in a supine position.
- Keep the body straight with the arms fully extended. The feet will act as the main support.
- Pull the body up so that the hands get closer to the chest by bending the elbows and drawing the shoulder blades back.
- Pause for a moment squeezing the back, feeling it contract and repeat as desired.
7. Wide-Grip Pull-Ups
Doing wide-grip pull-ups emphasizes the upper lats and allows for the lifting of heavier loads.
With a close grip pull-up, one can move with a greater range of motion. With the optimized starting joint position with doing wide-grip pull-ups, one can load the movement with heavier weights.
Muscle Worked: rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, arm muscles
- With a wide grip, grab a pull-up bar with the palms facing away from the body.
- Next, pull the body up to lift the chin just above the bar.
- Once at the top, contract the lats for one count before returning to the starting position.
- Do three sets of as many reps as possible.
Check out this video from Abby Pollock as she demonstrates 5 alternative back workouts using a dumbbell and a cable machine:
Routine variety is an important factor in getting gains. Make sure to always switch things up and build a monster back with any of these must-try seated cable row alternatives.
Eat the right food and if you need any help, try safe muscle-building supplements with no fluffs and fillers!
Do you have any advice on how to train the back? Let us know in the comments section below!
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How To Do A Resistance Band Row
Resistance Band Row is an exercise that strengthens the upper back muscles located around and between the shoulder blades. Training the upper back muscles are a crucial balance to the many chest exercises we have such as push-ups and chest presses. In order to have good posture and a balance the muscles in your body it important to train the upper back muscles. One reason, perhaps, that people neglect to train this area is that the exercises are difficult to come by. Push-ups are readily available. Barbell or dumbbell rows are not as accessible. If you learn how to do Resistance Band Row you will have a great exercise that is easy to do any time and anywhere.
The upper back muscles are a tricky area to strengthen. In order to use dumbbells or barbells you have be opposing gravity in order for the exercise to be effective. Due to the nature of the band resistance you can be much more flexible in your choices using the band.
The Resistance Band is a a great tool to have in your box of goods making strength training something you can do at home, at the gym or even on the road when you travel. In addition, the resistance band is typically a bit more user-friendly for people than weights. Choose your thickness – the thicker the band, the more difficult the exercise. Then tighten or loosen as needed even during use!
Try the Resistance Band Row and then try our workout 7 Moves To Sculpt Your Back and Shoulders.
- How To Do Resistance Band Rows
- What Muscles Do Resistance Band Rows Work?
- Benefits of Resistance Band Rows
- How Many Calories Do Resistance Band Rows Burn?
- Other Exercises Similar To Resistance Band Rows
- Incorporating Resistance Band Rows Into Your Workouts
How To Do Resistance Band Rows:
Here are the steps to performing Resistance Band Row:
1) Begin in a seated position on the floor with legs straight out in front of you.
2) Holding handles, place the center of the band around feet, then wrap each end inside and around each foot one more time to make a loop on each foot.
3) Sit tall with abs tight and hold handles in front of you with elbows bent next to your side.
4) Pull the handles back until they are next to your side and elbows are behind you. Slowly release.
See the video below to see Chris Freytag demonstrate how to do a resistance band row.
What Muscles Do Resistance Band Rows Work?
Resistance Band Row is a great way to strengthen your back without picking up any weights. If you are looking for a strong, sculpted back, this is a great move for you!
Benefits of Resistance Band Rows:
There are many reasons you should incorporate resistance band row into your workouts. Here are just a few:
Strengthen Your Back
Resistance Band Row is a unique way to build back strength. Instead of picking up dumbbells or barbells, the band creates strength in a different way. The muscles work against the strength of the tight band rather than the weight of a dumbbell. It’s an excellent and effective way to use the band for strength! And it’s especially great for those with lower back trouble who can’t use heavy weights.
Add Variety To Your Strength Training
So often people go straight to weights when they want to build strength. But the resistance band offers a huge variety of ways to strength train. The band allows you to move in unique ranges of motion, whereas lifting weights is done in a fixed position. The band is super adaptive for all levels. If you need to work harder, you pull the band tighter or add another band. If it’s too challenging or you can’t seem to get the proper form, you loosen the band.
Protect Injured or Sore Joints
Resistance band row and other resistance band moves can keep you training muscles while trying to rehab injuries or deal with problems like join pain. Some people are unable to perform traditional back row exercises because bending over and holding heavy weights doesn’t work for their back or hips. The resistance band row lets you train your back effectively without putting stress on your spine.
How Many Calories Does Resistance Band Row Burn?
Resistance Band Row is a strength training move. The fact that you are building muscle means you are becoming more efficient on a daily basis at burning calories. In general, an exercise will burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working. It all boils down to how hard you work.
Other Exercises Similar to Resistance Band Row
If you like the work and results you get from the resistance band row, here are some other exercises you might like as well!
Resistance Band Squat
Resistance Band Overhead Shoulder
Resistance Band Bicep Curl
Incorporating Resistance Band Rows Into Your Workouts
Resistance band row is an amazing exercise that will give you results on its own! However, you could also incorporate resistance band row into other workouts to mix it up and add variety! Here are some ideas to make that happen:
Use Resistance Band Rows In a Full Body Strength Workout
Strengthening all of your muscles in one shot for a full body workout is time efficient and effective. The following workout is awesome because not only will you get everything done in less than 30 minutes, but you only need one, inexpensive (most of them are less than $10 each!) portable resistance band. So get a band and get this going!
Resistance Band Full Body Workout
Resistance Band Side-to-Side Squat – 12 times
Resistance Band Row – 12 times
Resistance Band Lunge With Overhead Press – 12 times per leg
Resistance Band Push-Ups – 12 times
Resistance Band Alternating Glute Squeeze – 12 times
Resistance Band Bicep Curl – 12 times
Resistance Band Row – 12 times
Repeat if Desired!
That’s it! Legs, glutes, back, chest, biceps, triceps – all in one workout with on little band!
Use Resistance Band Row In Your Upper Body Superset
Resistance band row is one way to strengthen your back but there are many others! When you take this move and combine it with other great upper body moves you are on your way to change. So grab your mat, your band, and your attitude and check this out! Supersetting is the bomb of strength training– 2 moves for each body part. Bonus!
Superset Your Upper Body
Jog in place – 1 minute.
Inchworm – 4 times
Resistance Band Push-Ups – 10 times
Modified Push-Up (no band) – 10 times
Resistance Band Rear Delt Fly– 10 times per side
Resistance Band Row – 10 times
Resistance Band Bicep Curl – 10 times
Resistance Band Overhead Press – 10 times
Resistance Band Tricep Shoulder Press – 10 times
Tricep Dips (no band) – 10 times
Use Resistance Band Row In Your HIIT Workout
You can work your triceps and get your high intensity intervals all in one workout! Get your band and try this out:
HIIT Workout Fun
BLOCK 1: Each move 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds between moves
Resistance Band Row
Resistance Band Side Squats
REPEAT BLOCK 1
BLOCK 2: Each move 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds between moves
Dips and Kicks
Resistance Band Chest Press
Resistance Band Tick Tock
REPEAT BLOCK 2
Do you love the resistance band? Here are 2 more workouts that include the resistance band and a great article for beginners to strength training of all kinds.
7 Resistance Band Moves to Tone the Whole Body
4 Resistance Band Moves to Tone Your Butt
Beginners Guide to Strength Training
Best Single Arm Rowing Exercise
Advantages Of Rowing Exercises
Rowing exercises like Standing Cable Rows and Bent Over Rows challenge and strengthen the athletes back in a parallel motion, meaning the bar, resistance band, or other piece of resistance equipment is going toward and away from the chest. This parallel movement is great for intense lat workouts, increasing grip strength, and turning any rowing exercise into a full body workout.
Vertical pulling movements are harder for athletes to turn into full body movements as the point of resistance is working over the athletes head and then back down into the body. Vertical movements like lat pull downs, and straight-arm pull downs use this vertical motion to build great strength in the lats, upper to mid back, and biceps.
Full Body Rowing Exercise
The Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row is a great full body strength movement athletes can work into a number of different lat workouts. To achieve the full body effect of the Ballistic Bands rowing exercise athletes will need to identify a proper amount of resistance to use during the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row.
Since athletes are using a resistance band the resistance will vary throughout the rowing movement. When the athletes’ hand is away from the body and closer to the anchor point they will feel less resistance from the Ballistic Bands. As athletes pull away from the anchor point they will feel more control over the Ballistic Band as more resistance is applied to the movement. Athletes and coaches should take a few minutes at the beginning of the rowing exercise to identify a single Ballistic Band which will be suitable for the athlete, or a combination of two Ballistic Bands which will challenge the athlete through the rowing exercise. Athletes can go to the Shop Section to explore the different levels of Ballistic Bands.
Once athletes have found the correct amount of resistance they will anchor the Ballistic Bands around a solid, stationery object and secure the opposite end of the Ballistic Bands in one hand. Athletes will move away from the anchor and move into a good upright rowing position. This positioning will allow the body to use the abs, arms, and legs, to stabilize the body and force the muscles of the back to perform all of the work as the arm moves back and forth.
To move into this ideal standing row position athletes will come to the position they will be standing in during the rowing exercise. From this place athletes will keep their knees over their heels, keep a large chest, and begin to bend at the knees and hips. Think about moving into a great squat as the abs stabilize the torso and the thighs stabilize the hips and lower body.
From this standing row position athletes will maintain their hips, shoulders, and eyes forward as the athlete rows and drives the elbow back. Complete 12-15 repetitions of this rowing exercise on each side of the body allowing 40-90 seconds of recovery between sets, completing 4 total sets of the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row.
Arm And Ab Workout
When performing the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row body positioning is key to seeing gains in strength, core stability, and balance. Athletes who allow their hips, shoulders, and head to excessively rotate will be taking away from the positive back and full body adaptations in strength and stability they will be seeing, and will instead be placing greater amounts of unnecessary pressure on the spine, knees, and neck.
Athletes will always see excessive rotation if the rowing exercise is performed to fast. Athletes can use other Rotational Exercises with the Ballistic Bands, Victory Ropes, and KB Powerbands. The goal of the Ballistic Bands Standing Row is to build overall strength and stability. This means athletes and coaches should not be afraid to take the tempo of the standing row down. This slower tempo will increase the intensity and effectiveness of the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row, while limiting strain and overuse of joints and smaller muscles.
This slow tempo and single armed nature of the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row, along with the changing resistance incorporated into the Ballistic Bands will force athletes to squeeze their abs hard as the resistance tries to force the athletes torso and shoulders to rotate. This is a great opportunity for athletes to get a great ab burn while performing a stabilizing and functional movement.
Advanced Back And Full Body Workout
There are many tools athletes can use to make the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row more intense and challenging. As was talked about before athletes can always slow down the tempo of the rowing exercise and work to maintain control of the tension all the way through the back and forth movement. This constant tension on the back can be maintained by keeping a small bend in the elbow at the bottom of the rowing movement, and slightly shortening how deep the row is at the top of the movement.
Athletes can also raise the intensity of the lat rowing exercise by shortening their rest periods. The parameters for the drill call for 40-90 seconds of rest between sets of the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Rows. Athletes can use less resistance and shorter rest periods to keep their heart rate higher, improve muscular endurance, and optimize their training time. Athletes can keep the rest periods longer and use more resistance to see significant gains in strength.
Athletes can also perform what is known as a drop set at the end of their lat workout. To perform a drop set athletes will complete the first two sets of the Ballistic Bands Single Arm Standing Row as usual, perform their third set of the rowing exercise, then immediately move into the final set with 60% of the resistance used for the third set of the lat exercise. This challenging finish to a back workout requires the athlete to have an additional set of Ballistic Bands ready to go immediately after the third set has been finished.
Seated Band Rows
Wrap the resistance band under of your feet and sit back on your tailbone while grasping an end of each side of the band in your hands.
Starting with your arms extended forward, pull the band back as far as you can toward your abdomen.
Hold momentarily and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Release and extend your arms back out to full extension.
You can keep your feet on the floor for guidance or elevate them and balance on your butt for an added challenge.
Keep your abs clenched and make sure not to swing your torso back and forth to avoid cheating by using momentum to assist your pull.
Don’t let your arms and shoulders do all the work! Make sure you consciously activate your back muscles
Keep chest puffed out, your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed
Pull one arm back at a time or both simultaneously.
Insert a bar for different grip combinations (close/wide and overhand/underhand).
Resisted suitcases: Grasp the band and hold it in a static position by your ribs, without moving your arms, balance on your tailbone and press your legs out and then pull them back in.
Target Muscles: Back (Lats), Biceps, Abs.