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Seated Cable Row Endurance Workout

Updated on February 25, 2014

On day I had planned on using our gym's rowing machine but it ended up being "out of service". So I thought to myself, "What other exercise is almost identical to this?"

The Seated Cable Row!

I had to quickly set up a workout that was more cardio-oriented but also had an endurance factor to it.

The movement is the same as a rowing machine, except the seat doesn't move. So that takes a little work away from your legs and focuses it more on your upper body.

Let's take a quick look at the exercise.

Seated Cable Row

  • First off you'll want to grab the short straight bar; I chose that attachment because it's pretty much the same thing that's on the rowing machine. Attach that bar to the cable and have a seat.

  • Put your feet up on the footrests in front of you and bend your knees a little.
  • Lean forward, bending at your waist, and grab onto the bar with your palms facing down. Your arms will be straight to start out.
  • Now start to lean back and as you do this pull the bar toward your lower chest/ribs. It should be up against your ribs once you're sitting straight up.

Since you want to mimic the rowing machine movement, you'll be bending forward with each rep.

If you kept your back straight up and down the whole time then you'd be working your lats a lot more. Your latissimus dorsi is your middle to outer upper back, your "wings" so to speak.

Since we'll be leaning forward with each repetition, this exercise will work mainly your middle back. You'll feel the burn in your biceps as you get into it and you might work your lower back a bit too.

Let's move onto the basic structure of the workout.

Care to Compete?

Is it time for a friendly competition? Once you've tried this workout, post your results in a comment. Don't be shy; you're probably better than me at them! Here's what you need to post:

  • The DATE you did the workout
  • Your AGE and GENDER
  • Your HEIGHT and WEIGHT
  • How much weight did you use for the first set and how many reps did you do?
  • How much weight did you use for the last 3 sets, how many reps did you try to get each set and how long did it take you for each set?
  • Did you like the workout?
  • Will you do it again?
  • Did anyone yell at you? (haha)

Here are my results after doing this workout the first time:

July 6th, 2007 - I'm a 25 year old Male, I'm almost 6'3" and was around 235lbs when I did this workout. I used 50lbs for the first set and managed to get 106 reps in. I used 70lbs for the second set and it took me 1 min 10 sec to get 50 reps. I used 60lbs for the third set and it took me 1 min 7 sec to get 50 reps. I used 100lbs for the last set and it took me 37 sec to get 25 reps. I liked the workout, but it's a rough one. I'll be doing it again soon and luckily, no one yelled at me.

August 3rd, 2007:

  • I was probably around 228lbs.
  • I was at a college gym and for some reason their rack went by 15lb plates instead of 10lb plates, so I had to use the wrong weights and the lat pulldown bar.
  • I used 45lbs for the first set and managed to get 133 reps in.
  • I used 75lbs for the second set and it took me 1 min 15 sec to get 50 reps.
  • I used 60lbs for the third set and it took me 1 min 8 sec to get 50 reps.
  • I used 105lbs for the last set and it took me 33 sec to get 25 reps.
  • This really hurt my arms this time around, most likely because I was on vacation, lacking sleep and maybe because of the elevation of Utah.


The Workout

Get warmed up before you jump into this exercise. I'll warn you from the start that this may annoy other people around you since you'll be doing your reps fast and with low weight on the rack. Just keep the plates from smacking together and don't let go of the bar and everyone should be happy. I'm glad I only do this once a month.

You can change the format of this workout to suit your needs and ability better, but I'll show you what I started out with. You can use lower or higher weights and reps depending on your skill and strength.

For the first part you're going to want to "rep out". I put the pin in the rack at 50lbs and do as many rows as I can non-stop. Once you stop for a breather you're done and I hope you were keeping count! Write that number down and take a breather if you need to. Get a drink while you're at it.

For the next part, I raise the weight up to 70lbs and see how fast I can get 50 repetitions. It's handy to have a digital wristwatch for the rest of the workout. Just grab onto the bar with one hand, start the timer with the other and get to rowing. When you're finished quickly, but gently, lower the weight and stop the timer. Write down your time.

Take a quick break and lower the weight to 60lbs, then try to see how fast you can get 50 reps again.

Write down that time and raise the weight to 100lbs. Take a quick break and then try to get 25 reps as fast as you can. Write that time down and you're done.  Your arms should be killing you by now, I know mine were. There are really only 4 sets to it.

I set up a way to continually get a good workout. For the first part, once you get 5% more total reps than you did the first time, raise the weight by 5 or 10lbs for the next time you do this workout. So for me, I'd start out with 60lbs the next time if I beat my reps. For the last 3 sections, once you beat any of your times by 5 seconds, raise the weight by 5 or 10lbs. So if I beat my time by 6 seconds on the last set, then I'll raise the weight to 110lbs, and only raise it for that set. If you can use those 5lb rubber weights on your cable rack machine, then that might be an easier jump up.

You might hate it; you might love it, but at least give it a try to let me know. I don't do this often myself, but I still feel like it's a good workout. Being creative comes in handy when the machine you want to use is out of service.

Did This Workout Help Boost Your Endurance Strength?

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    Post Comment
    • Bendo13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Guinter 

      8 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Yeah cardio machines can get boring but I was aiming to mix things up at that point... luckily they had a cable row machine so I could attempt this workout.

      I love using the cable row machine for strength and sometimes, if I have to, endurance...

    • TheMMAZone profile image


      8 years ago from Kansas

      I always found this exercise to be rather boring. I am talking about a rowing machine not the cable rows. It is a great work out though. The cable rows are one of my favorite lifts. If you go heavy it works about ever muscle in your body...


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