11 Best Seated Cable Row Alternatives That Work the Same

Updated on  February 26, 2023
Aditya Sahu

Aditya Sahu ‧ CPT & Head Coach

Aditya is an ACSM certified personal trainer  and exercise physiologist with more than 7 years training various people and transforming people's lives. He has written various publications for various sports and fitness magazines. 

What Are Seated Cable Rows?

A seated cable row or a seated row is an exercise that uses a horizontal cable row machine to work different muscle groups in your body. Seated cable rows help increase upper body strength and muscle mass while improving posture. (1)

Many people who work their upper body often face pain in their lower back, which can be dangerous and last for a reasonable amount of time. This is where seated cable rows prove to be a great option but if you don't have cable row machine, sweat not.

Our seated cable row alternatives workout your muscles the same way the seated cable row does and  

This seated cable rows alternative exercises are highly beneficial for strengthening various upper body muscle groups, the lower back, upper back, and bicep muscles. Furthermore, this workout also helps tone your upper arm muscles, pushing you to your desired physique.

Seated Cable Row Alternatives

In this article, we have listed our picks for 11 of the best seated cable row alternative exercises and how they are done:

1. Barbell Row

The barbell bent-over row is a great seated cable row alternative. It is similar to the seated cable row, and both exercises are essential for your upper body and back muscles. 

Barbell rows are a great exercise if you are looking to train your strength. Usually, people who go to the gym for the first time or regularly can often experience back issues and back pain. This usually occurs because their back muscles are not strong enough to withstand weight or go through a challenging workout.

Therefore following the proper barbell row technique will help you achieve your target faster and deliver optimum results.

How To Barbell Row


  1. Begin by standing with your midfoot under the bar
  2. Next, bend over and grab the bar while keeping your knees unlocked and your hips high.
  3. Lift your chest and then pull the bar against your lower chest while keeping your back in a straight line
  4. Now slowly pull the bar back down and return to the starting position

Things To Remember

Always keep your lower back neutral to avoid back pain and injuries. 

Remember not to hold the bar in the air between reps because it will tire your back.

2. Db Bent Over Row

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The dumbbell bent-over rows are a great exercise to develop and strengthen your upper and middle back muscles. Furthermore, this exercise is also beneficial for building strength in the rest of your upper body muscle groups. (2)

The bent-over dumbbell row is a great seated cable row alternative, as it targets the same muscles. The dumbbell row can be performed during your back, upper body, and full-body workout routines.

You can easily perform the bent-over dumbbell row by following the simple steps below.

How To Bent Over Dumbbell Rows


  1. Begin by maintaining a standing position while holding dumbbells in each hand. 
  2. Next, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward while ensuring your torso is parallel to the floor.
  3. Now, begin the movement by driving the elbows back and retracting the shoulder blades. 
  4. Pull the dumbbells towards your body until your elbows are at the midline. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Things To Remember

Keep your head from jolting forward as you pull the weights to prevent neck injuries.

Avoid exercises that can strain your lower back if you have pre-existing back issues.

3. Cable Bent Over Row

The seated cable row and the cable bent-over row are a staple in almost every workout regimen. Both exercises are very similar as they target the same muscles, mainly the back muscles. (3)

However, the cable bent-over row is a more complex version and a great seated cable row alternative exercise. This exercise needs to be executed in the perfect form because, if done incorrectly, it can lead to severe back injuries.

A bent-over cable row requires a cable row machine and is easy to perform if you follow the steps below.

How To Cable Bent Over Row


  1. Begin by sitting on the flat bench and gripping the cable attachment.
  2. While sitting upright, keep your lower back straightened and slide your hips back to create a slight bend in your knees.
  3. As you pull the attachment towards yourself, retract and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  4. After following these steps, return slowly to the starting position.

Things To Remember

It is essential not to push too much weight as it can cause injury in the lower back muscles, leading to complications.  

4. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

The chest-supported dumbbell row is a variation of the dumbbell bent-over row and a great alternative exercise for the seated row. Chest supported row mainly targets your back muscles and strengthens them.

A chest-supported row involves a rowing motion while your chest is supported, usually by a leaning bench. Moreover, unlike other variations of seated cable rows, the chest-supported row does not actively work the hamstrings and lower back. Moreover, less pressure is exerted on your lower back during the exercise, so there is a lesser chance of injury.

You can easily perform this exercise by following the simple steps below.

How To Chest Supported Dumbbell Row


  1. Begin by positioning a bench at a 45-degree angle and lie down with your chest on the bench.
  2. Grab a dumbbell of your preferred weight in each hand and begin the exercise by moving your elbows behind your body while retracting your shoulder blades.
  3. Pull the dumbbells towards your body until your elbows are at the midline. Then slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

Things To Remember

Remember to start with smaller weights, as hefty weights can strain your muscles and stress your bones. 

Make sure not to let your head jolt forward while performing the exercise to avoid neck injuries.

5. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Single-arm dumbbell rows are another great and effective alternative exercise for seated cable rows or a one-arm cable row.

Single-arm dumbbell rows are considered much better than other exercises like the barbell bent-over row because they allow hyper focus on all the back muscles by targeting one arm at a time. Furthermore, the single-arm dumbbell row does not require relying on a barbell, reducing the risk of its associated injuries. 

This exercise is easy to perfect if you maintain the correct form and follow the steps below.

How To Single-Arm Dumbbell Row


  1. Begin by getting into a lunging position while keeping a slight bend on your knee and your back in a straight line.
  2. Lower the dumbbell towards the floor, ensuring extended arms. Retract and squeeze your shoulder blades. By the end of this step, your elbows should be pointing towards the ceiling.
  3. Now slowly bring down the dumbbells and get back into the starting position.
  4. After completing your repetitions with one arm, switch to the other arm and repeat the steps in the same order.

Things To Remember

Avoid lifting weights by putting pressure on your joints as it can lead to injuries and joint pain.

Make sure to start with lifting light weights to let your muscles adapt to the exercise and prevent injuries. 

6. Barbell Seal Row

The barbell seal row is one of the many seated cable row alternatives that are effective for improving back and arm strength. Barbell seal row is a weighted exercise that targets the muscles in your middle back through the help of a barbell rod.

This exercise should be performed on a special elevated or adjustable bench. Usually, opting for a higher bench promotes more excellent stretch, which is better for building muscles.

Although a regular barbell can be used, it is better to use a cambered barbell as it increases the range of motion.

You can easily perform the barbell seal rows exercise in proper form by following these simple steps below:

How To Barbell Seal Row


  1. Begin by placing a cambered or standard bar underneath an exercise bench.
  2. Grab the bar using your palms and lie on a bench face down.
  3. Next, row the bar up while keeping your elbows next to your chest so that it targets your back muscles.
  4. After holding the bar up for a short period, slowly lower it downwards to get back in the starting position.  

Things To Remember

Make sure to keep your elbows aligned with your chest so that the main target of the exercise is your back.

Make sure to keep your core tight and engaged during the exercise.

It is always better to begin with lighter weights than heavier ones to allow muscles to adapt and prevent injuries.

7. Dumbbell Seal Rows

Dumbbell seal rows are an ideal exercise if you want to build a bigger and stronger back. It is also an excellent alternative for seated cable rows.

It would be best if you used a seal row bench for this exercise because it is more helpful than a flat bench. If you were to perform this exercise on a flat bench instead of a seal row bench, your neck could get strained.

This exercise is similar to a barbell seal row and is easy to perform if you follow the steps below.

How To Dumbbell Seal Row


  1. Begin by lying down on a high bench. Then grab a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.

  2. Lift the weight upwards using your elbows. While lifting the weights upwards, rotate your wrists so that they are in a motion where your palms face each other.

  3. Take a short pause at the top, slowly lower the weights to the beginning position, and continue the same movement to repeat the exercise. 

Things To Remember

Always start with lighter weights because if you start with heavier weights that you cannot lift with ease, that can lead to joint pain. 

8. Machine T Bar Row

Machine T bar rows are another variation of the bent-over rows that target the primary muscles on your back and help increase their size. The T bar row is also effective for increasing the amount of your back strength.

T bar rows are a compound exercise involving more than one muscle group and two joints.

The step-by-step guide below will teach you how to perform the exercise correctly. 

How To Machine T Bar Row


  1. Lie on a bench and grab the T-bar machine with a neutral grip.

  2. Begin the exercise by pulling down the weights towards your body until your elbows are at the midline. Ensure to contract your lats and shoulder blades while performing this step. 

  3. Slowly lower the T bar and return to the beginning position. Continue for as many repetitions as you are comfortable with. 

Things To Remember

If you feel your biceps and back being overexerted, it is recommended that you decrease the amount of weight you are lifting. 

9.TRX Suspension Rows

TRX rows, also known as suspension rows, target the primary muscles of your upper back and upper arms while utilizing the cable machine.

The primary function of this exercise is to strengthen the back half of your upper body without using heavy weights. This can be beneficial for people who are not accustomed to lifting weights.

The TRX rows are relatively simple to perform if you follow the steps below:

How To TRX Suspension Rows


  1. Begin by shortening the TRX straps and positioning your body in a straight line.

  2. After walking a step forward, pull the straps backward while keeping your chest straight and contracting your shoulder blades.

  3. Your body should remain rigid throughout the exercise. Then slowly pull your body back towards the beginning position.

Things To Remember

Make sure to stay in the correct form throughout the exercise so that the right muscles and muscle groups are targeted.

10. Machine Seated Rows

The machine seated rows are one of the many great alternative exercises to a seated cable row for targeting your back muscles. This exercise helps increase the size and strength of your back muscles, lower traps, and biceps.

The technique for this exercise is pretty easy as you can do it weight-free and use your body weight.

How To Machine Seated Row


  1. Grab the handles with a comfortable grip and sit on the bench.

  2. Pull the handles with extended arms towards your torso while keeping your back, torso, and legs straight. 

  3. Pause at the bottom and then slowly return to the starting motion and repeat.

Things To Remember

You can efficiently perform this exercise like a bodyweight row without weights. Furthermore, ensure to maintain the correct posture to prevent unnecessary back strains. 

11. Landmine Row

The landmine rows are another seated cable row alternatives that build your back and upper arm muscles without a seated cable row machine.

How To Landmine Row


  1. To perform a landmine row, begin by pushing the barbell on the floor into a corner.

  2. Put the end of the barbell into the hole of a bumper plate and place another plate on top to secure it. 

  3. Pull the barbell towards your chest while keeping your back straight, with a slight bend to your knees.

  4. Pause for a second, tighten your shoulder blades as much as possible, and then slowly lower them to the starting position.

Things To Remember

Make sure to not start with heavy weights, as it is always best to start with lighter weights to avoid injury. 


In conclusion, there are multiple exercises you can perform as seated cable row alternatives for improving the condition of your back muscles. In this article, we have listed 11 different seated cable rows alternative exercises you can perform to build your ideal back. However, while performing these exercises, you should always remember not to go overboard with the weights and let your muscles slowly adapt. (4)






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