Resistance bands and (back) home workouts go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Especially because of the space and money needed for a good home gym setup. Exercises like band seated rows and similar variations take up no space (a band weighs little and can fit anywhere) and cost no more than a Jackson ($20 bill), yet they are so effective. Additionally, finding good and challenging exercises for the back at home (especially without a pull-up bar, or the ability to do one) requires more work.
The mighty band is the answer and this guide tells you why, and how to utilize band seated rows to get those back gains.
Muscles Worked During Band Seated Rows
Everything from your waist and up gets a piece of stimulation from band seated rows. Learn about the benefits of training each muscle and how they interact to assist during the exercise.
- Infraspinatus – Part of the shoulder blade, infraspinatus helps form the shoulder area, while helping to keep it mobile and stable. Rows involve shoulder motion, which recruits infraspinatus.
- Latissimus Dorsi – A massive muscle by surface area, latissimus dorsi or lats cover as much of the upper and lower back. It spreads out to the sides behind the arms, and is a major activator during pull movements, especially pull-ups.
- Teres Major – The teres major forms a bridge from the scapula (shoulder blades) to the humerus (upper arm bone). This muscle partners with the latissimus dorsi above to perform extension, adduction, and internal rotation of the humerus.
- Teres Minor – Found above teres major, minor also connects from scapula to upper arm bone. However, unlike major, the latter is a rotator cuff muscle that contributes to shoulder joint stability and function.
- Trapezius Lower Fibers – As the name tells, traps are a trapezoid shaped muscles divided in three sections, upper, middle, and lower fibers. The lower traps do downward movement of the scapula, and help the upper traps move it upward. Rows effectively light the traps on fire!
- Trapezius Middle Fibers – Above the lower fibers are the middle trapezius that draw the scapula back during rows, really emphasizing these muscles.
- Brachialis – One of the best side effects of back training is the arm muscles come along for the ride. Brachialis is hidden under the outer biceps and come out on a lean physique. But aside from aesthetics, brachialis is a powerful arm flexor, bending the elbow during band seated rows, and all similar movements.
- Brachioradialis – Contributing to grip performance, brachioradialis inhabits the upper and lateral forearm where it crosses the elbow, functioning to bend the arm, and supine/pronate the forearm. Pulls and curls will naturally build and strengthen these lower arm muscles.
- Deltoid Posterior – If you include rows in your workouts, you can bet the rear delts will benefit too. While there are three heads that make up your shoulder, the posterior head supports rearward arm movements, while the front head lifts the arm forward, and the lateral head lifts the arm out to the side.
- Deltoid lateral – Your middle delts also get an intense workout from band rows. This head gives width and roundness to the upper body, and raises the arms out to the sides.
- Other muscles involved – Aside from the primary muscles worked, band seated rows also engage the rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) and oblique muscles to keep your torso strong. This creates better force transfer, and muscular efficiency.
How To Do Band Seated Rows
To do band seated rows, you need the right tools, that include a quality resistance band, and a sturdy base like a power rack, thin pole, or even your feet if you can do it safely. And that’s half of it! The actual movement is not difficult, and most people can do it.
Below we’ve listed detailed band seated row steps and a short video demonstration.
- Sit on the floor, a bench, or whatever is most comfortable for you.
- Wrap one end of the resistance band around an immovable object like a power rack post, machine, or small pole. Then grab the other end and make sure both sides are even. The band should be at a height between your belly button and lower chest.
- Move back to stretch the band, and do a few practice reps. The band should still be stretched when your arms are fully extended forward.
- Sit up straight and pull your shoulders back.
- Pull your elbows back behind your body, and squeeze your back muscles hard.
- Stretch your arms forward and repeat steps 5 and 6 until you’ve completed the desired number of repetitions.
- Having a platform to press your feet against is ideal if using very heavy resistance, to keep your body stable, and give you more pulling power.
- You can also wrap looped bands under the bottom of your feet if you don’t have an object or base like a pole or piece of equipment.
- Any type of band can work for this exercise.
- Make sure the band is always stretched, to challenge and stretch your back muscles during the eccentric or negative phase of each rep.
- Target Muscle Group: Back
- Secondary Muscles: Biceps, forearms
- Type: Hypertrophy
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Equipment: Resistance band and solid base (optional)
- Difficulty: Beginner
Benefits of Band Seated Rows
There is little to no reason not to incorporate band seated rows in your workouts. Here are the benefits that first come to mind when we think of this super effective exercise.
Resistance bands are versatility GOAT!
When we say the options are endless, it’s no exaggeration. Resistance bands are the GOAT (greatest of all time) of versatility. Not to mention they come in different forms, and levels of resistance.
If you have the right bands to match your strength level, and know what you’re doing, you can build as much muscle as you want. Of course, they do have some drawbacks as well, which we mentioned below. But overall, for the money and advantages, it’s hard to beat training bands for certain exercises.
Check out these resistance bands that we reviewed.
No excuse not to train your back
Without a pull-up bar or weights, one might say you’re screwed if training at home. While you should always find a way to train your back, and there are options, a five dollar band can be a gamechanger.
Not training your back and just doing push-ups, ad no rear training, is a recipe for muscle imbalance both functionally and aesthetically.
Comfort of movement
Unlike bulky weights or a bar that doesn’t move past your belly, using bands is arguably more comfortable. Consequently, you can focus on getting an amazing contraction.
99 percent of the population can do band seated rows. There’s not much to it, yet the benefits are worth it! In fact, similar variations are used for rehab purposes, because it’s so user-friendly.
Cheap and effective back workout
A resistance band can cost as low as a few bucks. There’s no reason not to have a few in your closet!
On the same side of the token, you get a fantastic upper body workout using bands and all of the possible variations. It’s much more practical for people who may not have the funds or time for gym training.
Drawbacks of Band Seated Rows
The pros outweigh the cons for sure. But we cannot ignore the few drawbacks of banded training.
Harder to gauge progress
One significant negative of resistance band exercises is that many people don’t take them seriously. Bands are not just a warm up or stretching device. They offer several levels of resistance, and can help to change your physique if you use them like other training tools.
When training with bands, you should make note of how far you are from the anchor point (where you attach the bands), and use a heavier strength band as you progress.
Bands are not as consistent…
Unlike free weights and machines, bands resistance is lighter at the start of a rep, and harder as it stretches out. Of course, you should pre-stretch the bands before starting the exercise, but more experienced exercisers know how to do it best.
Band training still requires technique to do right!
Another downside to band training is they can wear out, which may reduce their strength. Overall, though, for the person looking to improve their fitness, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Common Mistakes When Performing Band Seated Rows
Don’t make these mistakes and you’ll be good to go with band seated rows!
Sitting too close to the base
When using resistance bands, they should always be stretched, whether a little or a lot. You don’t want to sit too close to the base (where the other end of the band is wrapped around) so that when you reach forward, the band becomes un-stretched.
Using too much resistance
Ego training is nothing new. In fact, we’ve all done it and still do. Then there are the less experienced who don’t know any better.
That’s why it’s more important to focus on range of motion first, and then training heavy later. You’ll train the muscles correctly, get the most benefit, and also prevent pulling or injuring a muscles.
Mediocre range of motion
You should be training your back muscles through their entire range of motion. Otherwise, you won’t get a good stretch in your lats and surrounding muscles, shorting the potential of both phases of a rep that contribute to strength and hypertrophy gains!
Variations and Alternatives of Band Seated Rows
Band rows are typically for home or mobile training purposes. These variations and alternatives are superior at the gym, or if you can afford more hefty training equipment.
Standing band row
For a more athletic and functional variation, simply do the banded row while standing. You should also mix in training on your feet as it helps to develop and maintain our human ability to perform natural feats.
- Secure the band around an object, and grip both ends evenly while standing on your feet.
- With your arms outstretched in front of you, take a step or two back to stretch the band, and bend at the hips and knees. You can use a staggered stance with one foot forward and the other behind. Or, you can stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart.
- Push your chest up and keep your shoulders back, then pull your hands past your ribs and contract your back muscles.
- Extend your arms forward until you feel a little stretch in your back muscles, and then repeat.
Below is a video example of standing rows, plus there are a few kneeling variations that remove leg involvement, focusing on just the upper body.
Standing bent over row
The best and most convenient banded row is the standing version that requires nothing but you and a band.
- Grab the bands in both hands, and stand evenly on the center of the band with your feet shoulder width apart, then make sure both sides are the same length. Move your feet closer or further apart as needed. Just make sure there’s always tension in the band.
- Bend your knees and hips then lean your torso forward at a roughly 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Retract your shoulder blades, and straighten your back.
- Tense your core, and drive your elbows back behind you, keeping them slightly flared out.
- Squeeze your back muscles, stretch your arms back to the starting position, then repeat.
Cable seated row
The obvious closest variation or alternative to band seated rows is the cable version. Most people don’t own a cable machine, but a gym membership will give you access to one.
Overall, there are more advantages to using cables than bands. These include more handle options, a numbered weight stack, and equal resistance from start to finish of each rep. Additionally, cable training is more natural than using machines that lock you in a single movement path.
Machine seated row
Another must have in your back training rotation, the major advantage of machine rows include being locked in. That makes it very user friendly, eliminating the need to balance, stabilize, or think too much. Just sit, adjust the seat, assume proper training posture, and start rowing. The machine takes care of everything else.
Note: There are different machine variations, so you may need to read the machine label or ask for assistance.
Inverted suspension row
Ideally, you can set up your trainer in an area that allows you enough space to move freely, and consequently perform more advanced exercises. However, you can do an easier version if all you have is a door to hook your straps to.
- Setup your suspension trainer so that it’s roughly about waist-height. Sit on the floor below the straps. Then grab the handles, allow your arms to fully extend, and place your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your head.
- Tense your core tight, bend your arms and pull your body up to the handles. Keep your elbows close to your sides and your wrists straight.
- Extend your arms and repeat.
Free weight rows
In its various forms, using dumbbells and barbells to perform row variations will get you the back you deserve. They’re more raw in nature, require total body activation, and recruit a ton of core. Additionally, you can buy a cheap barbell set for home training.
Check out our back training workouts that include a lot of free weight row variations.
Are band seated rows as good as cable seated rows?
Overall, cable rows have some major advantages over banded rows. However, for home training purposes, resistance bands are a viable tool that gets the job done when used ad progressed correctly.
What's the best sets and reps for band seated rows?
There’s no perfect one size fits all recommendation because we all have different goals. However, the majority of people will benefit from the following sets and rep ranges.
Note: We do recommend having a strategy in place to mix up the rep ranges, ad benefit from each one.
Strength: 3-4 sets x 5-7 reps
Hypertrophy and a little strength: 2-4 sets x 8-12 reps
Muscle endurance: 2-3 sets x 15+ reps
What type of band should I use for band seated rows?
Almost any type of resistance band will work. Choose one based on your preference and budget.
By now you should be convinced of how awesome band seated rows are for building a sexier posterior! If you’ve ever trained at home, or prefer to make gains at home, it’s going to be a key tool in your back training arsenal. But the seated band row is just one band variation, and you should try the others that we also included in this guide.
Make sure to read through this article to understand the benefits and drawbacks of band seated rows, and always use a variety of exercises and techniques to reap the full benefits of training.