There are many reasons that people have improper exercise form.  One likely reason is that people truly don’t know what correct looks like.  Other than that, people are prone to muscular imbalances and may even lack movement efficiency.   The issue with improper form is that it can lead to injuries.  Risk is limited in most exercise machines because you are forced to sit a certain way and maintain correct posture.  Today’s topics (bent and seated row) are important because even though the seated row is an exercise machine, it doesn’t offer back support.

I am going to begin with the bent row because it is more complex and can simply be transcribed to the seated row.  Because the bent row uses free weights, you are applying resistance via gravity.  This entails that you are lifting optimally when you are moving the weights vertically.  For this to occur, one must bend at the hip and keep their chest parallel to the ground.  For some people, this may be difficult because of thigh hamstrings or simply poor posture.  But it should look like this.  Notice how his hips are high and the torso is parallel to the ground.   It is also imperative that your chest be up.  What I mean is that your shoulders should be back, ensuring your back is flat.  Be sure to avoid this position.

Once you can reach this position, it is time to move the weight.  The force should come from the rhomboids, lats, and biceps.  That way, you pull the weight to your chest without changing the angle of your torso.  When the weight is too heavy or people use momentum, you will notice that the person will continue to stand up each successive rep.  Your angle of hip flexion should remain constant throughout your lift.

Understand that if you cannot get into the true bent row position, you can adjust the movement and progress to it.  Your progression would begin by using a bench to rest one leg.  This position provides more stability so you can focus on your posture without worrying about falling down.  From there, you can use the bench less and less for stability until you can model the bent row form.

Now that we understand the bent row, let’s just take a seat.  Understand that nothing changes about your posture only that you are seated on a bench.  The idea is to rotate this position into this one.  Far too often people view the seated row as having a different posture or form.  It is the same exercise, except that the resistance is coming from a cable.  Because we aren’t working against gravity, you can sit on the bench.

I hope this helps to clear up these issues.