Chest Supported Row: Muscles Worked, How To Do & Its Alternatives

The chest supported row exercise is similar to the bent over row and helps you work the majority of the back muscles.

The supported row is a compound exercise that works many different back muscles at once. There are several variations of the chest-supported rows that you can do with dumbbell, barbell, cable, or machine.

This variation of the row requires less effort to keep your body stable, since one end of the bar pivots at a fixed point on the floor and the chest is supported on the bench.

This article will answer all of your questions and explain everything you want to know about chest supported row.

  • What chest supported rows are
  • The advantages of supported rows are
  • What muscles are worked when doing it?
  • Best chest supported row variation (dumbbell, barbell, cable, and machine)
  • Chest supported row replacement or substitute

What Is A Chest Supported Row Exercise?

The chest-supported row is similar to the bent-over row. It is one of the most widely used compound exercises. It involves a few different joints that move across a wide range of motion. Therefore, it works many muscles in the upper body and improves strength and endurance.

As the name implies, it is a type of row where your chest is supported on a bench. By leaning into a bench with your upper torso, you can remove the need for your back to support the movement.

Unlike other rowing styles, such as the bent-over row, your lower back and hamstrings are not involved in stabilizing the movement.

This row is much more effective for targeting the back muscles because it doesn’t require other muscles to stay stable throughout the movement. This exercise can target different muscles depending on how your arm is positioned and how you are holding the weight.

A chest supported row can be done with many different types of equipment, such as dumbbells, barbells, and cables and machines.

Chest Supported Row

Variation Of Chest Supported Row

The chest supported row can be performed with different grip variations, such as an overhand grip, reverse grip, and neutral grip and dumbbell equipment such as dumbbell, barbell, cable and machine.

We created the supported row exercises for many sections, such as:

  • Chest Supported Row With Dumbbells.
  • Barbell Chest Supported Row
  • Chest Supported Row with Cables.
  • Machine Chest Supported Row.

Chest Supported Row – Hand and Grip Positions

Here are some of the ways you can alter your supported row to hit different muscles.

Grip Position

1. Overhand (Pronated) Grip

The upper back will be targeted more by the overhand grip. Because the elbows will push out from the body, the upper back and delts will receive increased activation.

2. Underhand (Supinated) Grip

On the other hand, an underhand grip will force the elbows to stay close to the body. This will generally cause greater activation of the middle and lower traps. You will get more bicep activation because of elbow extension.

3. Neutral Grip

Various elbow angles can be used with a neutral grip. However, its main benefit is that it takes stress off the elbow. Because of this, people who suffer from elbow pain will love using a neutral grip.


Grip Width

1. Narrow Grip

Using a narrow grip will usually cause your elbows to drop, which will cause you to pull lower. This is going to hit your lats and middle and lower traps more. Additionally, the biceps receive a greater workout with a higher range of motion.

2. Wide Grip

Using a wide grip will force you to use an overhand grip and force your elbows out. This will enhance the emphasis on the rhomboids, and rear deltoid.

Muscle Worked During Chest Supported Row

The fact that the Chest supported row is a compound exercise means that it activates a variety of muscle groups and muscles while it is being performed.

The main muscle worked during chest supported row are:

Secondary muscles worked during the supported rows:

Antagonist Muscle worked: Chest, Triceps, Front deltoid.

The muscle groups in the legs as either accessory dynamic movement stabilizers or as simple static support stabilizers.

chest supported row Muscles Worked

Dumbbell Chest Supported Row

There are many advantages of doing chest supported row exercises using dumbbells, such as:

  • Dumbbells require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • The dumbbell provides unilateral training and improves muscular imbalances.
  • It provides a greater level of variety, which helps prevent physical and mental burnout.
  • Dumbbell exercises variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM).

1. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

The chest-supported dumbbell row, also called the incline dumbbell row, is an ideal row variation for improving form, preventing mid-row rocking, reducing the risk of injury, and isolating the muscles you’re looking to build.

The muscles used for a dumbbell supported row may change slightly based on your trained range of motion and technique.

To increase the variety of your chest supported dumbbell row, you could try:

  • Underhand dumbbell Row
  • Neutral grip chest supported dumbbell Row
  • Single arm chest supported row
Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

How To Do Supported Row With Dumbbell

  1. Set an incline bench at 45 degrees.
  2. Start off lying on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand extended out in front of you.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your elbows up toward the ceiling to bring the dumbbells to your rib cage.
  4. Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your lat muscles.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.

2. Chest Supported Neutral Grip Dumbbell Row

The neutral grip chest supported dumbbell row is a variation of the chest supported row and an exercise used to build back muscle and strength.

The back is a muscle group that requires a significant level of variation. So, try different angles and grip position to get the most out of your back muscle growth.

You should experiment until you find a rowing variation that you like.

Neutral Grip Dumbbell Chest Supported Row

How To Do Neutral Grip Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

  1. Adjust an adjustable incline bench to a 45-degree angle and lie prone on the bench.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  3. Then begin the movement by driving the elbows behind the body while pulling the shoulder blades.
  4. Pull the dumbbells towards your body until the elbows are at (or just past) the midline.
  5. Then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Chest Supported Row Form and Tips

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
  • As you pull the dumbbells into your body, keep some tone through your abs to ensure you don’t arch excessively through your spine.
  • When you pull the dumbbells towards your body, please ensure you don’t hyperextend the thoracic spine by pulling your entire upper torso off the bench. You can extend it slightly, but don’t make it too drastic.
  • Really try to focus on your back muscles as you raise the dumbbell up. Squeeze them and keep your shoulder blades pulled together.

Barbell Chest Supported Row

Barbells are a valuable tool in the arsenal of a person who wants to gain strength efficiently. Exercise experts also point to several other benefits of barbells.

  • Barbells exercises provide versatility, can help you strengthen virtually every muscle in the body with a wider range of resistance.
  • The barbell is a very simple tool, so it is easy to learn the basic lifts quickly

1. Barbell Chest Supported Row

The barbell chest supported row is an effective exercise for targeting the upper back muscles with added safety benefits for the lower back.

The supported nature of this barbell row variation allows for better isolation of the targeted muscles, including the rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius.

Barbell Chest Supported Row

How To Do Chest Supported Row With Barbell

  1. Lie down on an incline bench with a barbell and hand extended out in front of you.
  2. With a neutral spine and tight core, row the barbell towards your lower rib cage. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  3. Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your rhomboids muscles.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.

2. Chest Supported Reverse Grip Barbell Row

The chest supported reverse grip barbell row is a variation of the barbell chest supported row that uses a reverse grip (palms facing away from you).

This variation places more emphasis on the biceps brachii and brachialis muscles, while still working the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and traps. It also requires the wrists and forearms to work harder to keep the bar stable.

Since the hand position is reverse grip, chest supported rows can allow you to lift medium weight and achieve a greater contraction of back muscles.

How to Do Chest Supported Reverse Grip Barbell Row

  1. Position an incline bench in front of a barbell.
  2. Lie face down on the incline bench, with your feet grounded firmly.
  3. Reach downward to grip the barbell with a reverse (underhand/supinated) grip.
  4. Pull the barbell towards your lower ribcage or upper abdomen.
  5. Make sure you squeeze your shoulders together at the top of the motion.
  6. Slowly lower the barbell back to its initial position.

3. Barbell Lying Row On Rack (Flat Bench Row)

Prone row is be performed on a special elevated bench, on a bench placed on top of boxes or benches. The higher the bench, the greater the range of motion and stretch at the bottom of the movement.

It is usually done as a strength and muscle-building movement in sets of 8-12 reps or more.

The flat bench supported row is a great alternative to a supported row for two main reasons.

  1. Because you are supported by the bench, there is significantly less tension placed on the lower back.
  2. You can’t cheat with your momentum. You should focus on keeping your front body on the bench, this will eliminate the legs and hips from assisting with the exercise. This will ensure we are getting more recruitment from the muscles we are trying to work in the mid-back and lats.
Barbell Lying Row On Rack (Flat Bench Row)

How To Do Flat Bench Row

  • Lie prone on a flat row bench and grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip and your palms facing toward your feet.
  • Pull the barbell toward your upper body until it touches the underside of the bench.
  • Then reverse the movement and go back to the starting position.

Form and Pro-Tips

  • Remember to breathe out when you work hard.
  • The form is an essential part of this exercise.
  • Don’t just swing your arms. Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position and don’t let your head hang down or look up.
  • Do your best to keep your chest planted on the bench for all reps.
  • Pretend your hands are hooks and pull with your elbows. This prevents the biceps from assisting too much.

Chest Supported Row With Cable

The chest supported cable row exercises offer an effective way to train the rhomboid muscle, let’s have a look at some other benefits of rhomboid exercises with a cable machine.

  • For people who experience joint discomfort during the barbell row, cable-supported rows are a great alternative. The cable changes the angle of the movement enough to limit the potential stress on the joints.
  • The cable offers great versatility because you can change the load, angle, grip position and body position easily.
  • The cable setup gives your muscles uninterrupted time under tension and a huge pump, both of which can help optimize muscle growth.

1. Chest Supported Cable Row

The chest supported cable row is performed on a weighted horizontal cable machine with a bench. Cable supported row are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your back muscles throughout the whole range of motion.

The seated cable row exercises the muscles of the back and the forearms. It is an excellent compound exercise for developing the middle back, as well as offering useful arm work.

The supported cable row can be performed with different grip position and using different angles and attachments. 

  • Underhand grip
  • Single-arm high row
  • Neutral-grip,
  • Rope attachment,
  • Long bar
  • Double arm low row….. Get creative!
Incline Chest Supported Cable Row

How To Do Chest Supported Cable Row

  1. Attach a rope handle to a cable set up. Alternatively, you can use D-shaped handles on an extended strap.
  2. Adjust an incline bench to between 30-45 degrees.
  3. Sit on the bench with your chest against the backrest. Grip the handles and extend your arms.
  4. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core.
  5. Bend your arms and pull the handles in toward your lower ribs.
  6. Smoothly extend your arms, let your shoulders shrug forward to stretch your upper back, retract your shoulders again, and repeat.

2. Underhand Grip Chest Supported Cable Row

The Underhand grip chest supported cable row aka seated chest supported row is a great movement for shoulder girdle health and for creating balance in horizontal pulling and pushing (especially for the frequent bench-presser).

It is also a bit easier to maintain proper form than in dumbbell, bent-over rows.

Underhand Grip Chest Supported Cable Row

How To Do It Underhand Grip Chest Supported Cable Row

  1. Grip the handle underhand at shoulder width. Brace through the core before beginning the movement.
  2. Pull the handle to your chest, keeping your back upright and tight throughout the movement.
  3. Focus on bringing the shoulder blades together at the end of the range of movement.
  4. Return to the start position under control, maintaining the same braced position in your torso.

Form and Pro-Tips

  • You must not bend or flex the spine at any point.
  • Keep the hips and lumbar spine stationary, and allow only the shoulder blades and arms to move.
  • It is essential not to push the head forward at any movement.
  • focus on doing the full range of motion with your shoulder blades.

Machine Chest Supported Row

There are many benefits to using machines for back workout, from a safety standpoint to an output standpoint, to time efficiency. Here are a few benefits of using machines.

  • Machines move on a fixed path. The handle and lever moves from point a to point b and doesn’t deviate. That reduces the incidence of injury.
  • A second benefit is the restraint or support that the machine provides.
  • Machines also allow us to control range of motion. Specifically, where to start, where to end, and what range to work within.

1. Chest Supported Machine Row

Machines are always a good choice for If you’re recovering from an injury or just starting out. Or perhaps you simply want to maximize muscle hypertrophy. It doesn’t really matter which chest supported row machine you use, they will all get the job done.

Next, select the handle and grip on the machine based on your preferences.

You will typically be able to use an underhand grip, overhand grip, neutral grip, close grip, and wide grip.

Chest Supported Machine Row

2. Chest Supported T-Bar Row

The chest supported T-bar row also known as chest supported machine row exercise is similar to T-Bar Row and allows you to concentrate on working, the vast majority of muscles located in the posterior side of the upper body.

The chest supported t-bar machine row can be performed with different grip variations, such as an overhand grip, reverse grip, and neutral grip.

Chest Supported T-bar Row

3. Chest Supported Reverse Grip T-Bar Row

The reverse grip T-bar row is a strength training exercise that works the same muscles as rowing a boat. The goal is to make the muscles that move the arms toward the body stronger, and the muscles that move the shoulder blades toward the spine stronger.

Because of the hand position, reverse grip t-bar rows can allow you to lift medium weight and achieve a greater contraction of back muscles.


Chest Supported Row Exercises Tips

Supported row are relatively safe in terms of free weight equipment, you still need to take certain precautions.

Follow these tips and foam when using a chest supported row:

  • Focus on good, proper form before using heavy loads. Once you are comfortable with the movement, add weight and since it’s plate loadable, you can do so in smaller increments!
  • You should pay attention to the position of your shoulder blades. Shoulders should be actively retracted and lowered during the eccentric phase to prevent too much forward movement.
  • Warm up before doing supported row.
  • Actively brace the core and slightly tilt the hips forward.
  • Extend the weight as high as the apparatus will allow, pause briefly at the top, and then lower to a full stretch at the bottom.
  • Do not relax during the lowering phase.
  • Use lighter weights. This exercise can be challenging to perform with a heavy load. The pressure of the chest pad causes the chest to become greatly compressed, making it difficult to breathe.

Chest Supported Row Alternatives or Substitute

Let’s look at the best alternate of chest supported row for building muscle and strength.

To add variety to your back workout routine, replace the chest supported rows with a different exercise that works the same muscles (latissimus dorsi).

Use dumbbells, cables, barbell, a gym machine or even your own body weight to perform the supported row.

Before we deep dive into the best chest supported row alternatives. We must remember, a good substitute of supported row will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Activate the back muscle groups, which are trained in the supported row
  • Isolate the muscle groups during execution.
  • Train the lat muscle through a longer range of motion

1. Inverted Row

If you are searching for a substitute for chest supported that you can easily do at home, then it is the best option for you.

The inverted row is another name for bodyweight rows. It puts your body in a horizontal position, making it easier to perform.

It also works the back and shoulder muscles from a different angle and improves scapular retraction. In the gym, most people do this exercise on the smith machine.

Inverted Row

2. Bent Over Barbell Rows

If you are looking to strengthen the upper back and add massive muscle to the upper back region, then bent over barbell rows are the best upper back exercise.

Pulling the bar up higher toward the chest targets the upper latissimus and trapezius. Pulling the bar through a lower trajectory to touch the abdomen targets the lower lats.

Bent Over Barbell Rows

3. Seated Cable Rows

If cable setup is available, you should try it as an alternative if chest supported row. It is an excellent exercise to build middle back muscles and this works on lower lats as well.

It can be done with wide and narrow grips. This exercise is done on a cable rowing machine with separate handles.

Seated Cable Rows

4. One Arm Dumbbell Rows

One Arm Dumbbell Rows are an excellent alternative to chest supported rows, and it provides the full-range motion to build the lats muscles.

This exercise helps to work on each side independently, thereby providing better muscle isolation and a longer range of motion.

One Arm Dumbbell Row

5. T Bar Rows

T bar Rows are a power exercise to build middle back muscles. Check the correct execution technique and blast your back muscles. It also works on the outer lats when done with a narrower grip.

T bar rows are done on a T bar machine or placing a barbell at the corner. T bar rows are a tough exercise, but building a strong back is a must to develop a quality physique, stay injury-free, and back pain-free for life.

Landmine T Bar Row

Chest Supported Row Benefits

Chest supported row benefits can be very impressive! When performed correctly and consistently over time, the supported row can allow you to achieve large strength gains. Some supported Row Benefits include:

1. It’s A Total Back Exercise

Supported chest rows are much more than just a lat exercise. It strengthens your entire back. This makes it an exceptionally effective exercise. If you were limited to only one back exercise, the supported row would be a good choice.

2. Reduce The Chance Of Injury

If performed properly, this exercise can be an extremely valuable tool for reducing the chance of injury.

3. Low Intimidation Factor

It is understandable that not everyone has the desire to perform barbell lifts, and there is nothing wrong with this whatsoever.

The benefits of the chest supported row are similar to those of the barbell row and are much less difficult to perform. Training should be enjoyable and empowering, and should not cause undue stress.

4. Strengthen The Posterior Chain

The supported row is a very effective upper posterior chain exercise as it increases muscular strength of all the back muscles.

5. Versatile

We love a workout with a lot of variety, so any exercise that has a lot of different ways to do it is right up our alley. Doing chest supported rows is a great way to add variation to your workouts and work muscles from a different angle.

6. Support Lower back

You can create a supported row by using the incline bench to lean into. You’re no longer relying on your lower back, core, or legs to keep you stable.

It also lets you focus on your form without having to worry about a rocking motion that would stress your back.

Frequently Asked Question

is chest supported row a compound movement

Yes, Chest supported rows are a popular type of compound exercise. It involves several different joints that move across an extensive range of motion.

As a result, it recruits many muscles from around the upper body, making it an effective exercise for developing upper-body strength and endurance.

why are chest supported rows harder

The Chest Supported row is harder because it keeps your front body strict to the bench, which means it doesn’t allow too much swing of the body.

Chest supported row vs bent over row

The bent over row is a compound movement, whereas the chest supported row focuses on back isolation. The benefits of the supported row have already been discussed.

The bent-over row is a great muscle builder because we have to hold the weight on our own, so our core and legs have to do a lot of stabilizing work.

Chest supported row vs Cable seated row

The main difference between a seated row and a supported row is that with a seated row, our core and back muscles are working to keep us stable while we do a rep.

does chest support row work biceps

The Chest supported row is a compound exercise, so it works a lot of different muscles at the same time. The chest supported row will work your entire back and biceps.

  • Primarily muscle worked are: Upper and mid-back (Latissimus dorsi, rear delt and trapezius)
  • Secondary muscles worked during the chest supported rows are Biceps, brachialis, Brachioradialis


If you are looking for an exercise that will strengthen your entire back and is great for lifters of all experience levels, then chest-supported rows are the way to go. 

The incline bench helps you build your back muscles in a safe and proper way, and the support of the incline bench makes it easier to keep the correct form. 

If you do these back exercises consistently, the results will speak for themselves.

Thanks for reading

Stay Fit, Live a Happy and Healthy Life


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