The seated row is an tremendously effective upper back exercise for the latissimus dorsi, commonly referred to as - the lats, also recruited during this movement are the muscles that reside between the shoulder blades, the middle trapezius and rhomboids.
Contracting the shoulder blades prior to a repetition on a seated row is often advocated by instructors. The thought is to stabilize the muscles between the scapulae in order to optimize shoulder movement and increase their activity. In actuality the process of retracting the middle trapezius and rhomboids before initiating movement does not aid in their recruitment during training. Performing the seated row allowing the shoulder blades to move away from the spine (pronation) produces similar myoelectric activity and suggests that these muscles are just as engaged during a repetition regardless of the position of the scapulae.
Contracting the scapulae before the beginning of a rep has a place in program design, as it can help in shoulder stability and be effectively used in athletes recovering from shoulder issues. If healthy and the goal is to Get the muscles of the upper back Strong simply extend the arms on the Pendulum 3 Way Row and get started.
Beginning with a Pronated Scapula
Pendulum 3 Way Row