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15 Row Variations

15 Row Variations

These are different row variations. As with most exercises, you can use different equipment in place of the ones shown below and you can change the speed of the reps, (slow pull, fast pull, slow release, fast release etc). Make these exercises your own.

The key point to each of these exercises is to keep your core/back musculature engaged! You will want to focus on initiating each movement with your upper back muscles (middle, lower traps, rhomboids, rear deltoids) and not simply using your arms. It sounds easy enough but it is actually difficult to do if you’re not used to these exercises.

15 Row variations

Furthermore, if you are just beginning, you may not feel these exercises in your back at all. You’ll likely feel then in your arms, shoulders or upper traps. The biggest reason for that is your back simply isn’t strong enough to take on the majority of the work.

That will in turn cause the muscles that are meant to only help with the movement, to become the primary movers of the exercise. With that being said, when this happens to my clients I have them do one of two things.

1: Hold each rep in a contracted position for 4-10 seconds, this will allow more muscle fiber recruitment and will almost force the intended primary movers to activate. 

2: I have them do is do as many reps as it takes for them to start feeling the exercise in the proper muscle groups. If it takes them 20 reps to feel it initially, I have them do 15 reps from that point, so a total of 35 reps. 

Doing those 2 things will ensure the intended primary movers are actually activating. Don’t forget to foam roll your upper back prior to exercise!

Target Muscle Groups for Rows: Rhomboids, Middle and Lower Traps, Rear Deltoids, rotator cuff muscles (primarily assist).

Seated Row Machine

Keep your back muscles engaged, do not slouch or let your shoulders creep up towards your ears. Initiate movement with your back, not your arms.

Bent Over Row- Dumbbells


Cable Rows

Wide Cable Rows

Bulgarian Row– Using a box or bench, inverted row with rings

Seated Banded Row

Inverted Rows–Barbell or Smith Machine

Modified Inverted Rows- Knee Bent

Weighted Inverted Rows




Alternating Dumbbell Row

Single Leg Row

Prone Rows- On Bench

Prone Rows w/ External Rotation

Dumbbell Row w/ Rotation

Crossover Row–



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