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Low Row Machine

Low row machine, Many people spend their back day doing regular lat pulldowns and rows, which is fine. But after a while, you might notice your lower back is not as developed as your upper back.

And it’s not just an aesthetics problem. This asymmetrical training approach can result in muscle imbalances and potential injuries!

Therefore, it’s wise to include low row machine exercises in your routine to target your lower lats. I’ll show you how to do the low row machine and other variations.

What Is A Low Row Exercise?

A low row machine is an exercise where your hands start in front of you and remain around waist level throughout the movement. Think of the motion you use when rowing a boat.

It’s important to realize that there is more than one low row exercise. However, each variation should target the same muscle groups.

Here are some different types of low row exercises:

  • Low row machine (weight stack)
  • Low row machine (plate loaded)
  • Low cable row (low pulley row)

Low Row Muscles Worked

Any low row machine exercise targets the back muscles. And the primary muscles involved are the latissimus dorsi or lats.

Specifically, the low row movement targets the lower part of the lats. Or the area that inserts into your lower back and love handle area.

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In addition, low row machine work the biceps. And, to a lesser extent, they work the muscles of the upper back and rear shoulder.

low row machine
low row machine muscles worked

Low Row vs Lat Pulldown

To better understand how the low row machine targets the lower lats, it helps to compare it to the lat pulldown exercise. The main difference between the two is the angle you pull your arms.

The wide grip lat pulldown puts your arms directly overhead and requires you to move your elbows out and back as you pull down. This external arm rotation involves the upper back and shoulder blades to a greater extent.

By comparison, the low row machine puts your arms in front, keeping your elbows close to your sides as you pull back. And that uses less upper back and more of the lower lats.

Also, the overhand grip on a lat pulldown reduces bicep involvement. In contrast, the underhand grip of the low row puts the biceps in a stronger position to pull more weight.

low row machine
low row machine vs lat pulldown

Low Row Benefits & Limitations

As you can see, the low row is superb for isolating the lower lats and generating pulling force. However, the shortcoming is that it’s not as good for upper back development as a lat pulldown machine.


  • Targets the lower lats
  • It puts the biceps in a stronger position


  • Not as good for upper back development

Next up, I’ll show you exactly how to do a machine low row. And further down the page, I’ll give you some other variations and alternative exercise options.

How To Do A Seated Machine Low Row

Before starting the machine low row, adjust the seat height to give you the correct movement path and range of motion.

Next, sit on the seat and grab the handles with your arms extended. Most low row machines use an underhand grip.

From here, pull your hands back towards your waist by squeezing your lats. Then control the weight back to the starting position with arms fully extended.

To recap, here are the step-by-step directions:

  1. Adjust the seat height
  2. Sit down and grab the handles
  3. Start with your arms extended
  4. Pull straight back by squeezing your lats
  5. Control the weight back to the starting position
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Seated Machine Low Row (Hammer Strength) Video

Machine Low Row Form

The seat and chest pad of the machine low row are excellent for keeping your body in the proper position during the exercise. But you must still perform the exercise correctly to hit the desired muscles.

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One of the most significant issues with the machine low row is having the seat too low. When the seat is low, you pull towards your chest, which doesn’t work the lower lats.

Instead, make sure you set the seat as high as possible without the handles hitting your thighs. At this seat height, you maximize lower lat activation.

In addition, pay attention to your hands and wrists. You should be able to keep your wrists straight throughout the exercise.

low row machine
low row machine
low row machine
low row machine

Machine Low Row Variations

So far, I’ve shown you the low row using a dual weight stack machine. But your gym might have a different type of low row machine.

Plate Loaded Machine Low Row

The plate-loaded machine low row is virtually identical to the weight stack version, with the only difference being how you add resistance.

As the name suggests, the plate-loaded machine uses weight plates on each side instead of the weight stack. Other than that, the exercise is the same.

Single Arm Machine Low Row

Usually, you do the machine low row exercise with both arms simultaneously. But you have the option to work one arm at a time.

The single-arm machine row enables you to concentrate more on the working muscle instead of thinking about moving both arms in unison.

In addition, you can sit at an angle with both legs on one side of the seat. This body position gives you more stretch and greater contraction on the outside edge or your lat.

Low Cable Row (Low Pulley Row)

Another type of low row machine uses a cable and pulley system. Usually, you place your feet in front of you while sitting on a bench.

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The key to a seated cable row for targeting your lower lats is to pull the handle towards your waist. You can use a close grip or wide grip handle with this movement.

Low Row Alternatives

Not every gym has a low row machine, and you might not be able to get on a low pulley station. So here are some machine low row alternatives that target your lower lats.

Bent Over Barbell Row

The bent over barbell row is another staple exercise for building your back. And you can modify the movement to target your lower lats by using an underhand grip.

Smith Machine Bent Over Row

The Smith machine row is a good alternative if you don’t have an Olympic bar. While the movement is the same, the guided path helps you isolate the lats.

Bent Over Dumbbell Row

A third variation is a bent over dumbbell row. When targeting your lower lats, I recommend keeping your elbow close to your body and pulling the dumbbell lower towards your hip.

Landmine Row

Last up is the landmine row. Stand with your toes close to the weight plates and pull towards your navel to engage the lower lats.

Machine High Row

The machine low row is a jackhammer for chiseling out your lower lats. But it’s not always the best tool for sculpting a complete back.

By comparison, the machine high row is the Swiss army knife of back exercises. Because you can use it to target your lower and upper lats simultaneously.

Click the image or button below to learn more about the machine high row.

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