How to Do Cable Close Grip Seated Row: Muscles Worked & Proper Form

Cable Close Grip Seated Row exercise

Muscles Worked in Cable Close Grip Seated Rows

a picture showing which muscles that are being worked in the cable close grip seated row

Primary muscles worked:

Secondary muscles worked:

How to Do Cable Close Grip Seated Rows

  1. Attach a narrow handle to the cable row, and assume the starting position.
  2. Maintain an upright posture with your chest out, shoulders back, and core engaged. Lean forward slightly and let your scapulae move freely by letting them slide forward to the starting position.
  3. Inhale, retract your shoulder blades and pull the handle towards your lower abdomen while leaning back slightly.
  4. Exhale and slowly return to the starting position by extending your arms and leaning forward.

Text and graphics from the StrengthLog app.

Introduction to the Cable Close Grip Seated Row

The cable close grip seated row is a classic row exercise, and is the second most used row exercise in our workout log app StrengthLog. By changing the handle and using different grips, you can shift focus between the worked muscle groups.

The cable close grip seated row works your back muscles in a horizontal pulling movement. By adding a vertical pulling movement (like the pull-up or lat pulldowns) and an exercise for the back extensors, (like the deadlift or a back extension), you have a complete back workout.

Which Muscles Do the Cable Close Grip Seated Row Work?

The cable close grip seated row work most of your major back muscles, primarily hitting your latissimus dorsitrapezius, and posterior deltoids.

The secondary worked muscles are your bicepslower backforearm flexors, and rotator cuffs.

Cable rows can be done with a wide or close grip, and most people find that they get better contact with their biceps with the close grip and better contact with their back muscles with the wide grip.

Benefits of the Cable Close Grip Seated Row

  • Easy to change the resistance. Cable machines allow for easy weight adjustments, which enables you to progress at your own pace.
  • Balanced muscle development. The close grip seated row helps balance the development of the upper body muscles, counteracting the effects of exercises that focus primarily on the chest and anterior muscles. We know that many people do a lot of bench pressing, and then it’s important to balance it out with some back work as well.
  • Reduced lower back load. The seated position minimizes lower back involvement, making this exercise a good alternative if you want to reduce the stress on your lower back.

Cable Close Grip Seated Row: Proper Form & Technique

Cable row with close grip starting position
Cable row with close grip starting position
Cable row with close grip top position
Cable row with close grip end position


Place yourself on the seat and make sure that you have a slight bend in your knees and an upright posture. Keep your eyes fixated in front of you and your neck neutral.

Shoulder blades

Let your shoulder blades slide forward in the starting position, and make sure to retract them in the pulling movement.


You can lean slightly forward in the starting position, and slightly back in the end position. Do the entire motion with control, and keep the pace down. You want to avoid excessive swinging and instead focus on the muscle connection.


Keep your core embraced, and posture upright at all times during the movement. While leaning slightly forward and backward, you still want to keep your back straight.

Common Mistakes in Cable Close Grip Seated Row

  • Too short range of motion. Failing to fully extend the arms during the eccentric phase or not fully contracting the back muscles during the row reduces the benefits of the exercise. Make sure to keep a full range of motion in each rep.
  • Excessive momentum. Using momentum to pull the weight compromises proper form and won’t be as effective for building those back muscles. Focus on controlled movements and avoid jerking or swinging the weight.
  • Rushing through your reps. Rushing through the movement reduces the time under tension and the effectiveness of the exercise. Perform each rep with control, focusing on the contraction and stretch of the target muscles.
  • Elbow flare. Allowing the elbows to flare out to the sides reduces the engagement of the targeted muscles. Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the movement.

Cable Close Grip Seated Row Variations and Alternatives

  1. Cable Wide Grip Seated Row
  2. Dumbbell Row
  3. Barbell Row
  4. T-bar Row

1. Cable Wide Grip Seated Row

Cable wide grip seated row
Cable wide grip seated row

This is a variation of the cable close grip seated row where you target the upper back a bit more, and your biceps a bit less.

2. Dumbbell Row

The dumbbell row offers a long range of motion, just like the cable row. Since you’re working with one side at a time, it is possible to work on any difference between the sides.

3. Barbell Row

The main difference between the cable row and the barbell row is the lack of (or lower) loading of the lower back. While your lower back is still involved slightly in seated rows, it’s not on the same level as in the barbell row. If you want to get some bonus load to your lower back the barbell row is a great choice.

4. T-bar Row

The t-bar row is like a more stable version of the barbell row, but it still requires more core activity and static work for your legs than the cable row variants.

How Many Sets and Reps Should You Do in the Cable Close Grip Seated Row?

Your purpose for doing the exercise should guide the number of reps you do in the cable close grip row.

  • For muscle growth, around 6–15 reps per set are recommended.
  • For strength, around 3–8 reps per set are a good guideline.

There are no clear-cut lines between these two goals, however. Training in the “muscle growth range” will still increase your strength, and training in the “strength range” will still cause your muscles to grow. It’s just a matter of what you are emphasizing.

Read More: How Many Reps to Build Muscle vs. Strength?

Regarding how many sets that’s suitable, that depends more on your training background and your capabilities.

If you are fairly new to the gym, you’ll probably grow from one single set of cable rows per week, while someone that’s been training for many years might need around 15 sets per week.

Another thing to remember is that it matters how many workouts per week you divide these sets into. You can tolerate (and grow from) a higher training volume if you distribute it over more workouts.

For many lifters, 3–4 sets per workout and 1–3 workouts per week would be a good starting point. Begin with that and see if you grow and get stronger from it. Later on, if you think you might benefit from cranking up your training volume, you can try adding a set per workout (or add a workout) and see what happens.

Training Programs & Workouts that Include the Cable Close Grip Seated Row

Here are some of our training programs and workouts that include the cable close grip seated row.

All these and many more programs and workouts are available in our workout log app StrengthLog.

To download StrengthLog for free, use the button for your device below. StrengthLog helps you get the best results possible with hassle-free workout logging, 100% ad-free, including the free version.

Read more:

>> Return to exercise directory.

Text and graphics from the StrengthLog app.