Row Overhand Grip

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Adjust the seat height accordingly.
  2. Sit straight up with feet flat on the floor and place chest against designated pad.
  3. Grasp the designated handles with a closed, overhand/pronated grip (palms facing downward).
  4. Extend arms fully in front of you, maintaining a slight bend in the elbow.
  5. Look straight ahead.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Pull the handles toward you until your upper arms are in line with your torso.
  2. Maintain good posture, looking straight ahead and sitting straight up throughout the entire movement.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, extend arms in front of you, returning the handles to the starting position.
Do not let the weight stack drop completely in between repetitions. Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids, teres major
  • Synergists: Posterior deltoid, biceps brachii, brachialis
  • Stabilizers: Wrist flexors, rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Horizontal shoulder abduction, elbow flexion, and scapular retraction
  • Equipment: Seated row machine with designated horizontal handles
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Row Overhand Grip

    What Is A Machine Overhand Grip Row?

    An overhand/pronated grip machine row is a variation of the seated row. It is a compound resistance exercise, which targets the upper and middle back including the latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids and teres major. This exercise is performed at a seated row machine. It is performed with a pronated grip on the designated handles.

    The concentric portion of the lift is scapular retraction, horizontal shoulder abduction, and elbow flexion. The eccentric portion is scapular protraction, horizontal shoulder adduction, and elbow extension as the weight is lowered.

    The purpose of the machine row is to strengthen the latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids and teres major while also promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of these muscles.

    Why Do A Machine Overhand Grip Row?

    Machine overhand/pronated grip rows strengthen and develop muscles of the upper and middle back. This exercise allows the lifter to perform scapular retraction from a vertical and seated position. Compared to the bent-over row, the machine row requires less stabilization from the back muscles, abdominals, and legs. This allows the lifter to place grater isolation on the latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids and teres major as the scapula retracts.

    The overhand/pronated grip on the row elicits horizontal shoulder abduction when retracting the scapula. This places increased emphasis on the posterior deltoid from a different angle while the upper back muscles work in unison.

    Performing seated rows on a machine allows novice lifters to learn and develop activation and strength of the upper back muscles. It is also appropriate for experienced lifters adding variation to their back training regimen.

    Performing rows on a machine provides constant resistance throughout the entire range of motion if the resistance is provided by a cable system.

    In addition to serving as an exercise that enhances the aesthetics of the upper and middle back, machine rows with a pronated grip also complement weightlifting and sport performance.

    Anatomy Of A Machine Overhand Grip Row

    The latissimus dorsi is a broad, flat, and triangular-shaped muscle of the lower back. When defined, the “lats” form a “v” shape of the torso as they angle toward the waist. The latissimus dorsi is a primary shoulder adductor and shoulder extensor. In this exercise, the latissimus dorsi is responsible for extending the shoulders as handles are pulled toward you. Its origin is located along the spines of the lower six thoracic vertebrae, lower 3 to 4 ribs, and iliac crest of the pelvis. Its insertion spirals around the teres major as it inserts into the intertubercular groove of the humerus.

    A flat and triangular muscle, the trapezius is the most superficial muscle of the posterior thorax. The middle fibers run horizontally to the scapula. Its origin is located at the occipital bone, ligamentum nuchae, and spines of C7 and all thoracic vertebrae. Its insertion is located along the acromion and spine of the scapula and lateral region of the clavicle. The middle trapezius retracts the scapula. As a superficial muscle, developing the middle trapezius contributes to the overall aesthetics of the upper back.

    The rhomboids are two rectangular muscles that lie underneath the trapezius just below the levator scapulae. The rhomboids consist of the rhomboid minor and rhomboid major. The rhomboid minor is located above the rhomboid major and is more superficial. The origin of the rhomboid minor is located at the spinous processes of C7 and T1. The origin of the rhomboid major is located at the spinous processes of T2-T5. The insertion of both rhomboids major and minor is located at the medial border of the scapula. The rhomboids are synergists with the middle trapezius when retracting the scapula.

    The teres major is a thick muscle located underneath the teres minor. It helps to form the posterior wall of the axilla. A synergist of the latissimus dorsi, the teres major extends the shoulder in this exercise. Its origin is located at the posterior surface of the scapula at the inferior angle. Its insertion is located at the crest of the lesser tubercle on the anterior humerus (its tendon fused with that of the latissimus dorsi).

    The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The horizontal abduction of the shoulder joint, as the handles are pulled toward you, activates the posterior fibers of the deltoid. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.

    The biceps brachii consists of two heads, the long head and the short head. The long head tendon helps stabilize the shoulder joint and its origin is located at the tubercle and lip of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The short head origin is located at the coracoid process of the scapula (shoulder blade). The long and short head unite as the muscle bellies run down the front of the arm. Both heads merge, sharing insertion into the radial tuberosity of the elbow joint. The biceps brachii flexes the elbow joint as the handles are pulled toward you.

    The brachialis lies underneath the biceps brachii, originating at the front of the lower end of the humerus bone. Its insertion is located at the coronoid process of the ulna at the elbow joint. The brachialis is a primary elbow flexor.

    The rotator cuff muscles help stabilize the shoulder joint as the scapular retract and the shoulder extends. The wrist flexors maintain the wrists rigid and stabilized throughout the exercise.

    Variations Of A Machine Overhand Grip Row

    Machine row with a neutral grip, seated row, barbell bent-over row, dumbbell bent-over rows, one-arm dumbbell bent-over rows, two-arm long bar row, one-arm long bar row, T-bar rows, standing one-arm low-pulley rows.

    How To Improve Your Machine Overhand Grip Rows

    Focus more on the horizontal shoulder abduction and scapular retraction to pull the handles as opposed to focusing on the hands dominating the effort of the lift. This will not only optimize muscle activation, but also prevent strain on the biceps brachii that could increase the risk of injury.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as the handles are pulled and scapula are retracted (“shoulder blades” are squeezed together).

    If the machine has vertical handles in addition to horizontal handles, strategically varying the grip position allows for a variation in muscle fiber activation. Over time, this complements strength and hypertrophy of the involved muscles.

    For beginners utilizing the machine row to acquire technique: progressing to cable and free weight variations (e.g. seated row, barbell bent-over row, one-arm dumbbell row) will optimize the strength and development of the upper back muscles.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between back, shoulder, and biceps training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Machine Overhand Grip Rows

    Using momentum to lift the weight minimizes the potential of force production of the involved muscles and can increase the risk for back injury. It is important that both the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise are controlled.

    Solely using the arms to pull the weight minimizes the activation of the scapular retractors. Simultaneously retract scapula and extend shoulders to pull the handles toward you.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Machine Overhand Grip Rows

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the back or shoulder joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, biceps injury, rotator cuff injuries, and/or lower back injuries may occur.