Your back is one of the most important muscle groups to look great and have an amazing performance in your fitness activities. That’s where rows come into play. This exercise will make sure that you build strength, muscle and tone your back. In this article we will have a closer look on how to perform Seated Rows with resistance bands. The alternatives would be standing and bent over rows, simply click on the link if you want to check out those versions.
We will start by what benefits you have by doing this movement with bands in comparison with free weights or machines. Then we jump straight into the right way of doing this movement, followed by the most important Dos and Don’ts. To get your imagination going we will show you some alternatives to the standard execution of the movement and give you great tips to increase and lower the resistance with easy changes.
Seated Row With Resistance Band
Let’s first start with some advantages resistance bands give you over free weights and machines.
Band VS Weights & Machines
Doing your rows with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with your free weights or a cable machine.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscles, having the most power in the full contraction. With a machine or free weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Overload at home! There’s almost no way to build your back muscles at home without additional equipment or a bar. Resistance bands are a great way to use at home to conquer and challenge your back muscles.
- Flexibility! With bands, you can use a grip you want without an additional equipment, depending on what muscle area you want to focus on your seated rows.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a seated row, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training, bodybuilding or weight loss, check it out here.
What You Need To Do This Exercise
How To Do Seated Rows The Right Way
The main purpose of the row exercise is to train the muscles in your back by pulling the resistance band towards you.
Follow these 6 steps to perform a perfect seated row.
- Double up the band (grab one which actually lets you do it in a full range of motion)
- Grab each end with one hand inside the loop
- Place the band securely around your feet (shoes are recommended)
- Keep your legs straight and brace your core
- Pull towards your belly button until your elbows pass your upper body
- Return slowly to the starting position by controlling the band
When you pull the band you want to focus on pulling your elbows back instead of bringing the band towards you, this will help a lot to not involving a lot of your bicep during the movement.
Now it depends on where you want to put your focus and you can either hit the lat harder or the traps/rhomboids.
Pull towards your belly to focus more on your lats. To do this keep your elbows as close to your body. (Left Picture)
Flare your elbows if you want to hit your traps and rhomboids more. (Right Picture)
You will always hit every muscle in your back but you can set a focus on one of them. This is the basic version of targeting with seated rows with resistance bands, more on that below when we take a look at the different grips.
Important Dos & Don’ts!!!
⓵ Don’t internally rotate shoulder – a very common mistake is internal shoulder rotation when your shoulders will point forwards. This position will not get you into a full contraction and make the seated row a lot less effective plus put extra stress on your rotator cuff and might lead to injuries long-term. Especially if you do this with lighter weight you run into this issue because you don’t feel the contraction that intensively.
⓶ Upper Body Movement – with rowing, especially when using a heavy band with more resistance than they can handle, people tend to start moving front and back quite much with the upper body to gain momentum. This is a mistake that will cause you to make this exercise less effective so try to keep your upper body as straight and fixed as possible while pulling your elbows back as much as possible. A little movement is ok and is actually good to stretch your lats in the eccentric part of the exercise.
⓷ No Slack – when you are in the fully extended position you still need to have some resistance of the band pulling and prevent slack.
Slack is giving you a lot less potential to really work your muscles and if you can’t do the seated row without having slack in the band, you need to grab a lighter band and stretch the band more to get the best resistance that’s working for you.
There are basically 3 different grip variations then it comes to rows – neutral, overhand and underhand.
The difference is quite small but it is still good to know what each grip is for.
- Neutral Grip – This is your most stable position. With this grip you should be able to handle the most resistance. Most of the work will be performed by your back and your biceps is slightly helping. You can also use this grip for the flared elbow version.
- Underhand Grip – This will involve your biceps the most. Perfect if you want to sneak a bit of biceps work in your back workout. Or simply to pre-exhaust your biceps in your back portion of your workout before hitting biceps directly. It is not suitable to be used with the flared elbow version.
- Overhand Grip – This grip is perfect for the flared elbow row variation. But you can also use this grip for the lat variation of the row. This will have the least biceps involvement and you will do most of the work with your back.
Alternative Ways To Seated Row With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with the traditional way of doing the seated row as shown above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of the alternative ways.
Seated Row With A Bar – using a bar is especially great if you’re just starting out with resistance band training. This will make the movement very similar to the variations you know from the gym. It will also give you better grip and stability while doing the seated row.
The great thing is that you don’t need a specific bar for that. Simply a strong stick or even better a door pull up bar will do the job.
Seated Row On A Chair – When starting out with working out some of you won’t have the flexibility to perform the seated row with good form while sitting on the floor. The best workaround is grabbing a chair. This will bring you in a much more comfortable position. Especially if you have problems with your lower back use this variation. A great tip is also to only use one leg for fixing the band. By putting the other leg firmly on the ground you will have more stability during the movement.
Alternating One Arm Row – to really focus on one side at a time try this version. It is basically the standard version as shown above. But this time you will row with one arm at a time. You can either alternate the arms or simply do all the reps for a given set with one arm and then with the other.
Get Your Pump
If you really want to work your back muscles and have already made some progress, you will get to a point where the band resistance might get too much so you can’t really pull it all the way back while maintaining clean form.
This is the point where you can switch gears and go to uni-arm version of the seated row with only using one arm with the resistance band. Now you need less resistance to fully work that muscle.
Other very effective ways to increase the resistance without grabbing a heavier band:
Shorten The Band – many people make the mistake to use a band with a resistance level that’s simply too high for the exercise. The full effect of bands results from getting the right resistance and if you use a band that’s too heavy you can’t get a clean range-of-motion and clean reps and therefore you will progress slower.
Instead of taking a stronger band simply shorten the band, you use by grabbing it further towards the fixing point and get that extra resistance without losing the ability to do clean reps.
A great way for seated rows si to simply grab the band inside the loop. This will shorten the band and also give yoo a more stable grip.
Use A Door Anchor – you can adjust the resistance simply by increasing the distance to the fixing point of the band. Your can’t extend your legs, but you can grab a door anchor and a box or something simillar. Fix the band to the door anchor and place the box against the door. Not place your feet agaisnt that box. This set up will increase the stretch of the band in the initial position and also at the finishing position. Try it!
Double Time – If you feel that there is only a little bit of resistance missing and a jump to the next thicker band would be too much, simply add a second one of the lighter ones. It will give just that extra resistance you’re looking for without taking it over the top.
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
The row is great to build your back but there are lots of other muscles in your body. Training your whole body is the best way to get and keep a healthy body. We offer you a full and individual workout plan to help you to reach your goals. Simply take the quiz right here and get your free workout plan with even more tips to get the best out of training with resistance bands.
In case you still don’t have a great set of band for wokring out your whole body, check our BIQ Bands which will make sure to get you the results you want!