The primary muscles stressed in this movement are the muscles in your upper back (latissimus dorsi and rhomboids). The secondary muscles stressed are the shoulders and biceps.

Starting Position

Adjust the seat and chest pad to the position designated by the trainer. Grip the handle in the assigned position with your arms extended forward. Push your chest forward and pull your shoulders back to help isolate the back muscles. Keep your feet flat on the floor.


Pull the handle back to the bottom of your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together hard. Take two to three seconds to return the handle to the extended position.

Training Tips

  • Keep your chest out and shoulders back to help isolate the back muscles.


  • Some vertical row machines have two different hand positions. These can be used to vary the area of the back being stressed.

Warning Tips

  • Do not overextended your shoulders as you return the handle to the starting position. Failure to do so can result in serious injury to your shoulders.
  • Do not excessively arch your back when pulling the handle back. Failure to do so can result in serious injury to your back.
  • Do not curl your wrists as you pull the handle back. This can cause an injury to your wrists.
  • Do not return the handle to the extended position any faster than two to three seconds. You must stay in control at all times during this movement. The faster you perform this movement, the less control you will have, which in turn will increase your risk of injury.

Robert Bovee Certified Master PPT, RTS, ETS, FTS

As one of the most successful Professional Personal Trainers and Exercise/Fitness Therapists in the United States, Robert continues to remain at the forefront of the industry by providing his clients with a thorough education and the tools to implement that education. By improving his client’s physical health, strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and nutritional habits, he is able to motivate them to lead longer, happier and more productive lives. Find out more about Robert and his personal training career and services, here.

Ryan Farrell

Ryan Farrell started working with the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) in 2012. As NFPT’s Marketing Coordinator, Ryan is responsible for aiding company reputation by building brand awareness and establishing strong working relationships among NFPT, its affiliates and industry partners.