Seal Row

Exercise Details for Seal Row

  • Primary Muscle
    Traps, Lats, Middle back
  • Secondary Muscle
    Biceps , Rear Delt
  • Equipment
  • Level

Why should you do seal row?

The exercise is very similar to barbell row or all other rowing exercises, for that matter. What sets Seal Row apart is that you lie on a fixed bench. When you do this, the lower part of the back, legs, and abdomen are disconnected, and only the muscles on the side, middle and upper part of the back and a little biceps are loaded. It is, therefore, an excellent isolation exercise.


Lie on a bench with your stomach down. Grab the bar more than shoulder-width apart with a prone grip, overhand grip. Stretch your arms and let the shoulder blades move forward slightly so that they are stretched out. You are now in starting position.

Now pull the bar in a controlled manner as far up as you can towards the body, preferably all the way until it hits the bench you are lying on. Aim to end up just below your chest. Start the movement by pinching your shoulder blades together. There is a great risk that the biceps will take over the lift if you do not do this. Then pull the bar with your elbows and make sure they get as far behind your body as possible. Squeeze your shoulder blades in the top position and hold for a few seconds before slowly bringing the bar back down to the ground. Hold on on the way back as the eccentric phase provides good muscle growth. In the bottom position, your arms should be straight, and your shoulder blades should move slightly. However, do not release the tension in your muscles; the elbows may then take on the entire weight, which can damage them.

Lats vs. Traps and Rhomboids

Performing the exercise with a barbell and prone grip pulled just below your chest will primarily train the muscles between your shoulder blades and the upper back, i.e., your Rhomboids and Traps. If, on the other hand, you want to train the back muscles a little more, i.e., your Lats, you change to a pair of dumbbells. You hold them with a neutral grip, palms facing each other as if you are going to pat hands and pull them a little lower down towards the stomach/hip.

Tips for Seal Row

  • Do not use too much weight, a full range of motion is more important
  • Extend your shoulder blades in the bottom position
  • Pinch your shoulder blades together before you start pulling back the bar
  • Pull back the bar with your elbows. They should end up behind the body
  • The arms should be a maximum of a 45-degree angle
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades in the top position
  • Lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner 
  • Grab the bar with the palms of your hands facing away from yourself and lift it higher up towards your chest which will make the muscles between your shoulder blades and the upper back work 
  • A neutral grip that is pulled more towards the abdomen trains the back muscles of the rear
  • You can place weight plates under a regular bench to get up to the right height to do the exercise

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