The Incline Cable Row: A Great Alternative to Barbell Rows

Incline Cable Row may be the perfect option for you. If you’re looking for an effective, yet more challenging resistance workout, then This exercise is also a great alternative to barbell rows.

For many people, barbell rows are the logical choice when it comes to a resistance exercise. They are simple to perform and require very little time investment. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective. In fact, barbell rows are one of the most common exercises performed by strength and Conditioning professionals. (1)

But what if you don’t have access to a barbell? Or do you want to add an extra challenge to your workout? Then the Incline Cable Row is perfect for you. This exercise challenges your core muscles in a different way than traditional barbell rowing and will help you burn more calories. Plus, it’s a great alternative for people who are unable to lift heavy weights due to certain physical limitations. (2)

Benefits of Incline Cable Row

Builds upper back muscle mass

The incline cable row is an excellent approach to increase upper back muscular mass. The cable machine’s resistance serves to overload the muscles, forcing them to adapt and develop stronger.

Improves posture

By strengthening the muscles that support the spine, the incline cable row can assist to improve posture. When these muscles are weak, they might cause the shoulders to go forward and the upper back to round. By strengthening the muscles and pushing the shoulders back into alignment, the incline cable row can help to reverse this process.

Reduces back pain

By strengthening the muscles that support the spine, the incline cable row can assist to alleviate back discomfort. When these muscles are strong, they can withstand forces that can cause back pain, such as carrying heavy objects or sitting for extended periods of time.

Lowers the risk of injury

The incline cable row is a low-impact workout, which means it is gentler on the joints than other exercises like barbell rows. This makes it a fantastic choice for persons who are prone to injury, such as those suffering from back discomfort or arthritis.


The incline cable row can be done with a number of different attachments, including a straight bar, a rope, or a D-handle. This allows you to target certain muscle areas while also varying the intensity of the exercise.

Muscles worked


Latissimus dorsi (lats): The lats are the largest muscles in the back and are responsible for their breadth. They are in charge of pulling the arms down and back.

Rhomboids: The rhomboids are placed in the upper back’s center and help to draw the shoulder blades together.

Trapezius: The trapezius muscle is a big muscle that runs along the upper back and neck. Raising the shoulders, shrugging the shoulders, and rotating the head all assist.

Biceps: The biceps are placed on the front of the upper arm and aid in elbow flexion. The incline cable row does not work for the primary muscular groups, yet they are activated to some extent.

How to do


  1. Set up an incline bench at a 45-degree angle and place it with the highest end facing the cable pulley machine.
  2. Attach a rope extension to the lowest pulley and place the weight on the stack.
  3. Grab the rope and place your chest on the bench, feet on the floor, and hands in a neutral hold (palms facing inwards) on the rope. This is your starting point.
  4. Pull the rope in as far as you can towards your lower chest.
  5. After a little pause, steadily lower the weight back to its starting position.
  6. Repeat for the appropriate number of reps.


  • Allow your arms to fully stretch and pull your arms back as far as possible to ensure you utilize the full range of motion.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the exercise.

Common mistakes

Leaning too far back

This puts undue strain on your lower back. Throughout the exercise, keep your back straight and your core engaged.

Using momentum

Don’t use your body weight or momentum to help you lift the weights. The weight should be lifted only by the muscles in your back.

Rowing with your arms

The incline cable row is not an arm exercise, but rather a back exercise. Pull the weights towards your chest utilizing your back muscles rather than your arms.

Flaring your elbows

This can strain your shoulders. Throughout the workout, keep your elbows close to your sides.

Not engaging your core

Your core muscles aid in the stabilization of your spine and the prevention of injuries. Throughout the workout, keep your core engaged.

Not using a full range of motion

Pull the weights all the way to your chest, then return to the starting position.


Bent-over dumbbell row

This workout is similar to the incline cable row, but it uses dumbbells instead of cables. Stand shoulder-width apart and bend over at the waist while keeping your back straight to complete a bent-over dumbbell row. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your hands facing down. As you row the dumbbells toward your chest, keep your elbows tight to your sides.

T-bar row

This exercise is done on a cable machine with a T-bar attachment. To perform a T-bar row, stand shoulder-width apart and grab the T-bar with an overhand grip. Pull the T-bar closer to your chest while maintaining your elbows tight to your sides.

Seated cable row

how to do Seated Cable Rows

This exercise is similar to the incline cable row, however, it is performed while sitting. To perform a seated cable row, sit on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and grab the handles with an overhand grip. Bring the grips closer to your chest while keeping your elbows snug against your sides.

Seal row

This workout is done with a cable machine and a bench that is low to the ground. Lay on the bench with your chest on the pad and your feet flat on the floor to perform a seal row. Using an overhand hold, draw the handles towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides.


Close-grip incline cable row

Closer grasp, which targets more of the inner back muscles. Adjust the bench to a 30-45 degree inclination and grab the cable attachment with an overhand grip that is closer than shoulder-width apart. Pull the cable closer to your chest while maintaining your elbows tight to your sides.

Rope incline cable row

Rope attachment, which allows for greater mobility. Set the bench to a 30-45 degree angle and hold the rope attachment with both hands. Pull the rope closer to your chest while keeping your elbows close to your sides.

Single-arm incline cable row

Only one side of the back is isolated at a time using this procedure. To accomplish this, adjust the bench to a 30-45 degree angle and grab the cable attachment with one hand. Bring the cable closer to your chest, maintaining your elbow close to your side. Rep on the other side.

Neutral-grip incline cable row

A neutral grip is a cross between an overhand and an underhand grip. Adjust the bench to a 30-45-degree angle, then clasp the cable attachment with a neutral grip, palms facing each other. Pull the cable closer to your chest while maintaining your elbows tight to your sides.


what is the best angle for incline rows?

30-45 degree angle
The chest-supported row, also known as the dumbbell incline row, is performed on an incline bench. 1. Create an incline bench. You’re after a 30-45 degree angle.

what muscles do the 45-degree cable row work?

If you’re short on time or on the go, the 45-degree row is a terrific alternative for shoulder training because it hits your lateral and posterior delts, as well as your upper traps, without having to touch those areas individually.

Is incline press worth it?

Incline presses are beneficial because they target the upper chest area that most people don’t work out enough. They also allow you to use more weight than flat benching because they target more muscle groups at once.

Are rows best for last?

Bent-over rows engage the rhomboids, lats, teres major and minor, lower traps, rear delts, and spinal erectors, making them a full-body back-building exercise. Barbells bent over rows allow you to load a lot of weight while also stimulating your back muscles.

Is incline better for muscle growth?

Both flat and incline bench presses can help you gain muscle. “For overall muscle and strength gain, the flat bench press is superior to the incline bench press,” Coach Nicko adds. “Despite the fact that they both engage the same muscle groups, the flat bench press stimulates the lower chest more than the incline bench press.


1. PEARSON, D. R., RUSSEL, D. G. H. W., & HARRIS, T. (1999). Long-term effects of creatine monohydrate on strength and power. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research13(3), 187-192.

2. Lorenzetti, S., Dayer, R., Plüss, M., & List, R. (2017). Pulling exercises for strength training and rehabilitation: movements and loading conditions. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology2(3), 33.

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