The Seated Cable Row can be an excellent exercise for building upper back muscles like the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, mid & low trapezius and the teres major & minor. The posterior deltoids and biceps are also involved in this exercise. The erector spinae and abdominals act as stabilizers, assuming the exercise is performed without rounding the spine.
Begin the exercise with proper posture (neutral spine position). Be upright with your ears aligned over your shoulders, lift your chest up (so you are NOT hunching) and pull your navel to your spine.
At the beginning of the movement, pull your shoulder blades together as you push your chest up and out, then pull back from the elbow joint.
The two most common mistakes I see, on this exercise, is 1) excessive movement from the hip and low back area and 2) no protraction / retraction of the shoulder blades. (See “Wrong” picture)
To help my clients get in touch with the feeling of squeezing their shoulder blades together, I put my hand between the blades and ask them to squeeze my hand with little or no weight, first. It is surprising how many people, even seasoned lifters do not maximize this part of the movement.
In this day and age, many of us sit in front of computers, too many hours a day, in a rounded posture. The Seated Cable Row can strengthen the upper back muscles and help improve your posture, too!