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Going from scrawny to brawny is time-consuming business. So maximise gym efficiency with exercises that work a range of muscles in a single move. The seated cable row targets your upper, middle and lower back, and shoulders, biceps and triceps. In your back alone, it helps you achieve a cobra-like width as well as thickness, which shows up as added bulk on your torso.
Seated cable row
The seated cable row is an excellent strength-building exercise for the upper body, according to Lee Kong Ee, Pure Fitness personal trainer. “The exercise involves muscle contractions in the entire upper body, which results in greater calorie expenditure, compared to exercises that engage fewer muscles,” he says. To build strength and size, select a weight that will enable you to do 8 to 12 reps. Aim to do 3 sets as part of your workout.

How to do it
Step 1

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Sit on the bench and lean forward to grab the neutral-grip handle (which is about chest-width), with your palms facing each other. Place your feet on the foot rests and slide your hips onto the bench until your knees are slightly bent and your torso is pulled forward as you hold the handle. This is the starting position.
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Begin to exhale slowly and pull on the handle as you bring your upper body upright, pulling your shoulders back and pushing your chest forward as you arch back. As you do this, engage your core muscles by keeping your torso stiff. Pause briefly. And as you inhale, slowly return to the starting position in a controlled manner. You’ve completed 1 rep. Repeat the movement – allowing your body to bend forward as you lower the weight while exhaling, and pulling the weight up as you inhale to complete your set.
A. Close-grip row
Performing the seated cable with a narrow grip lets you target the middle muscle fibres of your back, and enables a stronger retraction of your lats.
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B. Shovel-grip row
Using this wide grip trains the outer fibres of your lats, which enhances the V-shape of your back.
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Avoid These Rookie Mistakes Three ways newbies can avoid getting it wrong and sabotaging their gains.
1. Arching too far backwards
As you pull your elbows back, avoid arching back excessively, says Lee Kong Ee, Pure Fitness personal trainer. “While this is a cheat that may enable you to do an extra rep, it causes a strain to your lower spine – which can result in injury.”
2. Leaning forward excessively
While doing so stretches your lower back, this action can cause a strain in your lower spine. Kong Ee says: “When you do the row correctly, you should feel the stretch in your shoulder blades when you let your arms stretch forward – and not in your lower back.”
3. Keeping your back straight To activate your lats, there should be a slight arch in your back, the neutral position of your spine, says Kong Ee. “Keeping your back unnaturally straight as you perform the row causes you to rely more on your biceps and upper back, at the expense of your lats.”