Exercise Technique

Which grip to use on the seated row?

By October 26, 2016 May 7th, 2020 No Comments


People often want to get onto bench press and work on a ‘push’ exercise but forget to work on their ‘pull’ – this can lead to an increased risk of muscle imbalance and poor posture. A good tip is to make sure that for every upper-body ‘push’ exercise in your session you have two ‘pull’ exercises (see “How to structure your gym session“. An example of a ‘pull’ exercise is the seated row.

Watch how to do the isolateral seated row on our Warwick Workout Youtube Channel.

At Warwick Workout we have a couple of machines to do the row on: the isolateral and standard HammerStrength seated row. There are plenty of other options to do the row on too: barbell row, TRX row, dumbbell row and cable row to name a few.

A question that’s often asked is which grip should I use on the row? When using the isolateral row machine (as in the above video) you may use an open grip:

Or a closed grip:

Both exercises activate the same core muscles: Posterior Deltoids, Triceps, Middle Trapezius, Brachialis and Rhomboids. However, when compared to the open grip the closed grip will activate more of the Infraspinatus and Teres minor. These two muscles are key external rotators and stabilisers of the shoulder joint. So use a closed grip if your aim is to increase stabilisation the shoulder joint. However, using an open grip will activate more of the Biceps, Teres Major and Latissimus Dorsi. These open and closed grip options also can be used in other variations of the row.

Bottom line is that any version of the seated row is a good way forward! Just remember the 2 for 1 ratio tip: 2 pulls for every 1 push exercise each session. Read more tips for strength training here.

By Dr Laurence Houghton (PhD Sports Science)