Hello folks! In today’s post and I think in some future posts, I’m going to be talking about some staple exercises and some things you may want consider or think twice about! So, for today’s post, were going to be talking about the ‘seated row’.
The seated row is a common exercise that is performed by almost everyone from bodybuilder’s, average Joe’s and all the way to athlete’s. It’s a great exercise for developing the muscles of our upper back and rear portion of our shoulders. And, it’s also and exercise that you can go pretty heavy on, which mean’s more strength and hypertrophy development. However, their is something you need to consider with this exercise and it’s a question you need to ask yourself..
Is this exercise really safe?
Well, I’m here to tell you that the ‘seated row’ can be a “VERY” dangerous exercise, ESPECIALLY when using heavy loads. The primary reason is because of the seated position that you are in when performing the exercise. When your in that seated position, pulling heavy loads, their is going to be major force and load placed onto the lumbar spine. And over time, if you were to continuously do this, the discs are slowly going break down and eventually a ‘bulge’ or ‘herniation’ could occur at one of the lumbar/sacral levels.
Think of it, if the ‘seated’ position is flipped it’s the same position as bending over and pulling weight to your chest. It’s just not practical and it’s poor spinal positioning. All in all, it’s just outright dangerous and should be avoided, especially for people with lower back pain. Don’t get me wrong people, I use to perform ‘seated rows’ all the time when I was younger because that is what I was taught from the mainstream fitness media. Mainstream fitness media tells you that if you want a large back, you need to perform ‘seated rows’. However, what they don’t tell you is how this exercise is going to FUCK your back up. Therefore, point being, be very skeptical of what mainstream fitness media tells you and don’t listen to everything!
Also, I can tell you that I never and will never incorporate ‘seated rows’ into any of my programming for professional athletes, especially basketball or hockey players. When training basketball athlete’s, you working with guys that are roughly 7 feet tall sometimes and this means the load is going to be even greater on their spines because they are much larger individual’s. Whenever a taller individual’s bend’s over or anything, their is more stressed placed on their spine because they have a much larger ‘range of motion’ to travel through. On the other hand, the game of hockey involves being in a slightly bent over position, which means hockey players spend a lot of time in spinal flexion. That means their is already a great deal of stress being placed on their spine. So.. Why should they place EVEN more stress on their lower back from an exercise like a ‘seated row’? They shouldn’t or else their going to end up with some sort of lower back injury at some time in their life.
Another thing to consider with the ‘seated row’ is that when your sitting and performing this exercise, your in a position of constant ‘hip flexion’. And in today’s society, we see many people and athletes (hockey players, basketball players, etc.) with ‘super’ tight hip flexors, which really limits their range of motion in the hip and also, can lead to issues like ‘lower back pain’, especially since the ‘psoas’ connects to the lumbar spine. So… let me ask you this.. Why should we continue to feed into this hip flexor problem by incorporating an exercise like ‘seated row’s’ into their program?
Well, to be honest, it’s just not practical and it only make things worse from a functional perspective. Overall, in my opinion, the ‘seated row’ is just not a good exercise, unless you want to develop super strong upper back muscles. However, their is one way we can change the ‘seated row’ exercise to make it 100x more safer and effective. And that’s to do it standing!
Yes, the sanding row, it’s a lot more safer, it challenges the core and it’s still very effective at developing the upper back muscles. Firstly, your pulling yourself out of a seated position, which is already taking a MASSIVE load off the lumbar spine and spinal discs. Secondly, you are reducing the amount of hip flexion you are in by taking yourself out of the seated position. Thirdly, you are in more practical position, especially for athletes (e.g., think athletic position), because when are athletes ever sitting? And lastly, your getting more muscle and core activation because you have to maintain your balance when standing. The only downfall is that you may not be able to pull as much weight as seated. However, I can tell you that the benefits of standing outweigh the benefits of seated by literally 100000x. (Trust me you don’t want to suffer a disc bulge at any point in your life, it’s one of the worst injuries anyone can experience)
So, there you have it people, the ‘seated row’ is an exercise you may want to think twice about performing because trust me, you don’t want to end up with an injury and suffer from lower back pain for the rest of your life. Next time your in the gym, give the standing row a try, I can guarantee you that’s it’s going to be a lot more safer and effective than the ‘seated row’.