Seated cable rows are excellent for both your upper and lower back, and for this exercise you will need to find the (yes, you guessed it!) a seated cable row machine. Strengthening your back is a more more effective solution for correcting your posture than an outside source like a posture brace of a surgical procedure such as spinal decompression. Lower on the page there is a picture of me doing the seated row. I would recommend using the v-bar for this exercise, also pictured below.
I like seated rows a lot. Like the lat pull-downs / pull-ups, it is a crucial exercise to include in your repertoire of posture exercises. You are mainly hitting your upper back muscles (the latissimus dorsi), but in a different way than when you do pull ups or lat pull downs. Before you begin, be sure to read about bodybuilding tips to make sure you are developing good habits.
1. Sit down, grab the v-bar, and push back until your legs are bent slightly, and keep your back straight and slightly leaning back, while arms are fully extended. Start pulling back, but ONLY MOVING YOUR ARMS. The rest of your body should be stiff. Pull the bar back while you keep your arms close to your body (so your elbows are always right by your side). While pulling in, you should be breathing out. There are three main things to keep in mind:
i. Your posture must remain correct and fixed throughout the entire exercise.
ii. Your shoulder blades should squeeze together in the back when the bar reaches your torso. This will help you focus on maintaining correct posture throughout the entire exercise.
iii. Your shoulder blades should not be elevated at any point during the exercise.
2. Flex your arms back to the original position. Remember to do this slowly; don’t just loosen your muscles (that could definitely lead to injury). During this part of the exercise you should be breathing in.
• Side note: Like the lat pull-downs, a variety of grips can be used on a number of different bars. I recommend the v-bar because it is a close-grip pulling exercise, and we already do a wide grip pulling exercise when doing the lat pull-downs / pull-ups. It also feels the most natural for this exercise. Always remember that each exercise should feel like a natural motion for the body. If you feel like you are straining your muscle in some strange and unnatural motion, you should stop immediately and ask someone knowledgeable if you are doing the exercise correctly. This will help you avoid injury, or just wasting your time (exercises not done properly are much less effective at building muscle).
• Side note: This exercise also works the biceps as a secondary muscle. Sounds good to me!
• Side note: Some people like to bend their lower back while doing the seated row exercise. I personally don’t like to do this. It can be dangerous if done incorrectly, and there are other exercises that focus exclusively on the lower back anyway.
• Side note: This exercise is also known as the seated pulley row, the seated lat row, and the seated back row.
If you are interested in other lower back exercises, the back extension is another great one. The best upper back exercises are the pull up, the lat pull down, and shoulder shrugs.