3 row variations

While you are undoubtedly including a reasonable number of rows in your program, there is a chance that you aren’t getting the most out of them because you are mixing up 3 different variations into one Frankensteined row.

If we look at the musculature of the back, we can see there are different lines of pull for the 3 main areas that we can target with a row.

The lats are on a downward angle. (While the upper fibres run almost horizontally, the bulk of them are down on a 45º- ish angle)

The upper back are more hoirizontal in action.

The rear delts operate on a upward angle, which becomes more horizontal when your elbow is at shoulder height.

Given all these angles of pull, it makes sense for us to adjust our row technique to better hit the areas we want.

So here is a quick video demonstrating the 3 variations and where they target.

For the lats, we want to keep your elbows closer to your sides, so they track on a more vertical line. You also don’t need to pull your elbows all the way past your torso as your lats play no role in that part of the movement, and any benefit you get from squeezing your shoulder blades together is minimal compared to the upper back variation. You can however have a little more forward lean to stretch your lats as you extend your arms, then sit tall as you pull to gain more ROM.

For the rear delt, you want to be able to pull your elbows -past your torso as far as you can. For most people that’s going to be with your arms about 45º or so from your sides. There is a little variation in this, but it’s right about there for most of us.

For the upper back, you want to try to pull your elbows wide, almost in a big arc, as you go back. Your aim is to let your shoulder blades slide around your ribcage as you reach forwards, then pull tham back together as you row. This takes the muscles of the upper back through a bigger range of movement.

While I’ve shown the variations in a seated row set up, the pronciples apply for any row you wish to use.

Stay strong,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.