How to Do the Dumbbell Seal Row

How to Do the Dumbbell Seal Row

What is Dumbbell Seal Row?

Dumbbell seal row is a very unique exercise for building bigger back. Dumbbells are specially used in this exercise. A seal row bench is used for this exercise. This machine lowers the risk of straining your neck and lower back while ensuring a maximum workout for your back muscle especially lats and mid-back muscles.

Seal row kettlebells is also an exercise that involves a seal bench placed at a certain height from the ground. It requires kettlebells. Kettlebell is a cast ball made of steel, having a handle present at the top used for the grip. The kettlebells are used in a lot of exercises, training (for gaining strength and flexibility).

This exercise also targets your back muscles. Lay down on a bench with face down. Your face from forehead to chin must be touching the bench. Lift the kettlebells side by side. Use a wider shoulder grip, as it will help in your back muscle building. This involves a very less back movement.

Lift the kettlebells towards your ribs when you move them up. Keep your body in a straight line to avoid any injury. Your neck will be prevented from any type of strain if you will follow this position.

It is impossible to cheat while using this bench. Weight lifting in this exercise is very effective to stimulate the muscles of the back. You need two dumbbells and a flat surface of the bench for lying down in this exercise. Seal row exercise needs your chest support.

  • Seal row helps in the activation of your mid-back and lats muscles. It also helps in reducing your back fat if you are performing lifts frequently throughout the week such as squats and deadlifts.
  • Seal row prevents the use of excessive momentum and cheating. It will help you to increase tension on targeted muscles rather than shifting on back and legs. Your chest is faced downward and the entire body is pinned against the bench.
  • Having your chin pressed against the bench will help in your neutral neck position maintenance. This will reduce and take off pressure from your spine.

Take a flat bench and elevate the bench from the ground on a box or on another object. Your bench must be flat and parallel to the floor.

This exercise can be performed by using dumbbells or barbells. But dumbbell is highly preferred by most of us.

Since it allows you to work iso-laterally and will prevent strength imbalances, it helps you to retract scapula for a good contraction in the lats.

Why do you need to start doing dumbbell seal rows?

There are a lot of benefits to doing back exercises:

  • This exercise does not require many movements that will help you to lift the weight. If you are not getting as many movements you should do, you are putting yourself at injury risk. You are lifting the weight with your ego. This requires you to pull up using your shoulder, arms and your back muscles having a minimal chance of injury.
  • Seal row exercise involves more range of motions (arms and back) for the back. People who like a massive back build up prefer to use dumbbell with seal row. It is found that the dumbbell seal row provides them a full stretching of lat muscles. The weight is rowed in a more controlled motion. It can also lead to muscular damage if controlled and balanced motion is absent. If a great range of motion is involved, it means more muscular development and buildup will be done.


What Muscles does Dumbbell Seal Row work?

Dumbbell seal row helps you in the two following way:

  1. You can shift your emphasis on your lats. For this case, you have to perform seal row using a narrow grip, palms should be inward while using dumbbells. You have to lift the weight towards your mid-section of back and waist
  2. You can shift your emphasis on your upper back and rear delts. In this case, you have to use a wider shoulder grip and weight must be lifted a bit higher. The lifted weight should be directed more towards your chest.

Always keep it in mind that you should start from less weight if you are a new one performing dumbbell seal row.

Take a moderate start and focus on your back muscle contraction and relaxation for their effective workout, then you can increase the weight if you have properly nailed it.

This exercise targets mostly the muscles of the back. Lats muscles are also involved in this exercise and get effected.

How to do the dumbbell seal row?

For performing the dumbbell seal row lie straight on the bench with face down. There should be no bend in your back or legs. Chin must be touching the bench to avoid any neck strain.

Don’t move your neck upside down while performing this exercise. Lift the dumbbells according to your weight-bearing capacity.

Adjust your shoulder grip at a certain limit. Legs should not be joining. They must be wide and far apart. This proper form will help your massive back build-up.

Lift the dumbbells facing toward your waist if you want to stress your lats muscles. Lift the dumbbells towards your chest if you want to stress your upper back and rear delt muscles.


To perform dumbbell seal row consider the following steps:

  1. Lie face down on a bench with your chest facing toward the floor and touching the bench.
  2. The bench should be at a height from the ground (from where your hands can easily reach dumbbells)
  3. Bring your legs wider apart from each other.
  4. Hold the dumbbells firmly one by one and balance yourself on the bench. Holding the weight downward or beneath you will help you to eliminate any momentum and isolate your pulling muscles.
  5. Now start lifting the side of the dumbbell by side by setting a narrow or wider grip according to your choice. The positioning of the dumbbell will help in your massive back buildup.
  6. Set your chin on the bench as well. Your chin will be lifted up when you lift the dumbbells upward. To pull off the seal row focus on rowing the weight up towards the lower part of our ribs, then shift down towards the front of your chest during the eccentric portion of the movement.
  7. This positioning on the bench will take your back totally out of the equation and takes your neck in a neutral position.
  8. Don’t expect to put too much weight at the beginning like massive bodybuilders. As long as you are pulling with proper form, the positioning of the dumbbell seal row is helping in building your back muscles.


Variations in dumbbell seal row

You can do a lot of variations like:

  • For maximizing the tension and stress on your lats and middle of the back as compared to your biceps and shoulders, try to pull the dumbbells up by using your elbows rather than your hands. Consider that your forearms and hands are absent and place 100% of your focus on lifting the weight up using your elbows. This seal row exercise minimizes your hip and lowers back movement. You can use the dumbbell variations depending on your strength. When you row the weight upward, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades. This exercise will help you to lose a lot of waist fat and back fat. It will make a massive back for you by activating your mid-back, upper back, and lats muscles.
  • You can also make a variation by making an inclined bench. This is usually performed with chest upwards. It not only provides less body support, but it also provides a better t-spine extension. This exercise involves a cervical extension while the head is not compressed into a rigid surface. The base of your neck must be at the top edge of the bench. When you lift the dumbbell with your one hand, also lift the contralateral leg off the ground. Your ipsilateral leg must be touching the ground. Performing this in the opposite fashion having a contralateral leg on the floor and ipsilateral leg off the ground makes difficult to maintain balance and stability.
  • Another variation can be done by using the ipsilateral incline dumbbell row. It is not very difficult, but wonders for improving horizontal pulling machines and rowing forms. The bench is inclined while the person is face down. There is a very little core or abdominal activation because the lifter is resting on his chest. This builds a strong muscle mind connection with the lats. Try to avoid any kind of spinal deviation as it will make impossible to work out with massive loads. Any massive deviation can lead to destabilization of the spine and difficulty in maintaining body control and motor control.

Pros of Dumbbell rows

There are a lot of benefits to doing back exercises:

  1. Dumbbell Seal Row is also performed for back muscle building. One hand is involved in this exercise. This exercise activates your lat and back muscles. This also helps in reducing back fat if present. When you lower a dumbbell, your torso must be balanced, stable and straight. It will help your back muscle building.
  2. The inverted row is also performed using dumbbells. It requires a lot of your back and lat muscle strength. It helps you to control your body weight while you are being in a state of motion.
  3. Bent over barbell row is an anti-flexion exercise. For this exercise, your back prevents your torso from bending over. It is an excellent exercise for lower back buildup, providing strength and stability to your back.


Damages of Dumbbell seal row

Dumbbell seal row can lead to certain damages:

  1. Dumbbell Seal Row heavily challenge you to lift the weight through one arm. It is difficult to maintain balance and stability. Sometimes the athletes twist their torso while doing this exercise. So try to perform this exercise using fewer weights.
  2. The inverted row involves putting a lot of pressure on your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. To prevent this, add a small pad around the bar and pull yourself 3-4 inches of the bar at top of the movement.
  3. Bent over barbell rows are damaging if not performed correctly. They can lead to problems like poor hip hinge, flexed spine and incorrect weight distribution.

Dumbbell Seal Row Alternative

Below we are going to list a good mix of back exercises for dumbbell seal row alternative:

  • Pendlay Rows: ''Pendlay Rows'' get their name from the coach who invented them, Glenn Pendlay. There are differences between a Pendlay Row and a traditional barbell row that bodybuilders typically perform and according to the coach that popularised the variation, they are much more effective.
  • Meadow Rows: Meadow rows get their name from John Meadows aka the Mountain Dog. As he states in the below video, these rows work more of the upper back. They are somewhat of a cross between a one arm t-bar row, but the action is more of that of a one-arm dumbbell row.
  • J Pulldowns: J Pulldowns are a lat exercise performed kneeling, or standing, with a rope attachment on a high cable attachment. J Pulldowns work the lat in a similar fashion to lat pullover machines, but most gyms won't have one of these. So if you are looking for a different way of hitting your lats and don't have access to a pullover machine, give these a shot.
  • Single Arm Pullovers: The concept is a lot like the J Pulldown but is a little bit different. Just like the J pulldown, it involves a rope and a cable machine, but as Alberto(making his second appearance in this article) mentions in the video below, it has a few little tweaks that make it special.
  • IPSILATERAL INCLINE DUMBBELL ROW: The ipsilateral incline dumbbell row is not only surprisingly difficult but it also does wonders for improving horizontal pulling mechanics and rowing form. It actually feels quite similar to a renegade row in terms of core activation and anti-rotation except it’s impossible to cheat or twist your body.


Best Seal Row Bench for doing Seal Row Exercise

  1. ELEIKO CLASSIC SEAL ROW BENCH: DESIGNED FOR Training the back and performing row exercises. The Classic Seal Row Bench is full of features that will appeal to lifters and operators alike. With its solid construction, the Seal Row Bench provides a secure and safe way to train.
  2. TITAN FITNESS Prone Row Machine: Isolate and get the most out of your row workouts with the Prone Row Machine from Titan Fitness. This high-quality unit is constructed from 2" x 2" steel tubing for a durable and stable design allowing you to rest your chest on the pad, putting all the weight on your muscles and not your back. Each barbell holder is adjustable from 16" - 22" tall to fit most size athletes.
  3. SEAL ROW / CHINESE ROW BENCH: Mainly favored by Olympic weightlifters, but also by powerlifters as an antagonistic bench movement, and other strength athletes. No longer do you need to simulate this bench with an unstable construction of a flat bench placed on a stacked pile of bumper plates or plyo boxes! The movement hits the strength, stability, and thickness of the lats without putting pressure on the lower back.
  4. Forge Prone Row Bench: This bench, also referred to as a seal row bench, requires the user to lie face down on the bench and row with a specialist bar to isolate the mid-back. Because of the position of the body, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to cheat using this bench.
  5. GORILLAGRIP SEAL ROW BENCH: The Seal Row Bench is a great machine for back exercises without the risk of straining your neck and lower back, thus ensuring a maximum workout of your mid-back muscles and the lats.
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