There’s more to a cable row than rowing a bar to your stomach—here’s why.

There are a lot of benefits of the cable row: It allows for great positioning to better target lats, it’s a relatively safe move to do (as there’s not direct load on your body), and it can be progressively overloaded, easily, for consistent gains. Unfortunately, I often see it butchered by the everyday gymgoer, nullifying all those benefits.

Here are five mistakes to fix.

You’re rowing for Olympic gold.

Engaging your entire upper body by leaning forward or even driving with your legs during the cable row takes the tension off your lats. Instead, stabilize your body and tighten your core— then row the bar to you. Your goal is back growth, not to join the Olympic rowing team.

You pinch your shoulder blades together.
Keeping your shoulder blades squeezed back and together places the emphasis of the row on your traps and rhomboid muscles, making the lats a secondary mover. Instead of retracting them, allow the scapulae to abduct (move forward around the rib cage). If you’ve ever had trouble “feeling” your lats during back day, this should take care of that.

You move too fast.
You want to accumulate what’s called “mechanical tension” on your muscle, or muscle tension. So, instead of performing the move as quickly as possible, pull it to you explosively, hold it for a beat, and then lower to a three count. Go for 10 painful reps. Don’t let the weight rule you—you rule the weight.

You neglect strength.
At the bottom of the move, you can let your torso come to increase blood flow to the lats, a technique called loaded stretching. Just don’t use this position to gain momentum. Hold the stretch for a second, come back up, and then row.

Your elbows flare out.
Keeping your elbows high recruits more of your upper traps, rear delts, and rhomboids. This isn’t wrong, but if you want to increase the thickness of your midback and lats, keep your elbows packed in tightly at your sides.

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