Rows – Mistakes and Corrections

Common Mistakes with Rows and Corrections

A row is a pull-type compound exercise that recruits heavy involvement of the lats (latissimus dorsi). The lats are the two large, thick slabs of muscle that attach under the upper arm and stretch below the shoulder blades all the way down to your lower back.

The Wonder Women woman doing bent over dumbbell rows

If you are doing a row correctly, you should feel the lats and accompanying muscles between and below your shoulder blades working hard.

Some common mistakes to avoid when performing a row:

  • a rounded back
  • rounded shoulders
  • posterior pelvic tilt
  • flared elbows
  • wrist curling at the end to get a little ‘extra’
  • torso rotation
  • using the biceps to do most of the work
  • jerking and using momentum to move the weight.
    Cues to use for correct row form:
  • Keep the back flat throughout the rowing action, as depicted on the right in the barbell row below. As you begin the lift, think of squeezing your shoulders down ‘into your armpits’. This will allow for great recruitment of your lats.
  • Drive with the elbows, keeping them close to the body through the entire lift. Finish with your hands at hip height keeping a 90 degree angle at your elbows. This video does a great job explaining proper back and elbow position during a one arm dumbbell row: https:// The same position will apply to other row variations, such as the seated row and barbell row.
  • Keep the shoulders rolled back and down throughout the lift. The seated row and barbell row are pictured here. You can see on the left how the shoulder is rolled forward. On the right the shoulder is rolled back and down during the movement. This is the correct positioning of the shoulder when performing a row.