How to: DIVERGING ROW (video)

In this tutorial, we will go over the target muscle, setup, form, and more for the diverging row for the lats. For more workout tips, tricks, and information, follow me on Instagram @daniellehamlin or visit the Exercise Library​ :) Enjoy the video!


Multi-Joint Movement

Joints and Joint Type Involved: Shoulder (ball-and-socket joint) and Elbow (hinge joint)

Main Muscles Worked: Latissimus Dorsi Equipment: Machine

Prerequisites: Ability to contract the lats and produce shoulder retraction, depression, and extension against the weight of limb without pain or problems. Ability to flex and extend at the elbow joint against the weight of limb without pain or problems.

The diverging row is a multi-joint movement that recruits both the shoulder and the elbow joints in order to pull the arms back. Depending on the muscle and fibers you are trying to target, hand placement and arm path will very. For this video, we will be targeting the lumbar fibers of the lats. Before you attempt to do this exercise be sure you can adequately contract your lats by retracting and depressing the shoulder blades and driving the elbow back and in toward the body. Also, ensure that you can flex and extend at the elbow without any pain. Once you have demonstrated that you can sufficiently do all five without any problems you may be ready to move through the motion against additional resistance. For this exercise, you will need to use a diverging row machine.


1. Establish the working range. To get started, you will first need to establish your working range, which will also help in adjusting the machine to your body. Start by taking a seat with your arms out in front of you. From there, begin to pull your arms back and around the body and allow the shoulder blades to come along for the ride by moving down and around the rib cage as well. Continue to contract the lats by moving through this arm and shoulder blade path until you have reached a comfortable shortened end range for the lats. To establish the lengthened end range, attempt to keep the shoulder blades back and down while you bring the arms in front of you. Once fully extended at the arms, you can then slightly protract the shoulder blades to further lengthen the lat.

2. Setup the machine. After you have established your working range and notated those positions, it's time to adjust the machine. Adjust the seat height to match your range of motion and arm height. In the fully shortened position you want your elbow joint at a 90° angle to eliminate the bicep from the exercise as much as possible. Adjust the front pad so that you can reach and press firmly into the feet plates.

3. Pick a weight. It would be beneficial to pick a light weight at first to confirm your range of motion and your ability to CONTROL the weight. DO NOT whip the weight around… ever. Once you have demonstrated control you may be ready to increase the weight.

4. Stabilize. Before you do a rep be sure to stabilize everything as much as possible that are not the shoulder and elbow joints. This will assure that you are producing as much output in the lats as possible.

Areas to stabilize:

-Use the muscles along your spine to sit up tall and extend through your thoracic spine.

-Brace with your feet to stabilize the hips and assure that they don’t slide around.

-Drive your upper body into the front pad to prevent upper body swinging.

5. Putting it all together to do a rep. To initiate the row, contract the lats to begin to move the upper arms down by your side. Allow the elbow to bend naturally through this path. Continue through the contraction and let the lats retract and depress the shoulder blades as you bring the arms back. Fine-tune the shoulder blades and the arm path as you pull. Slowly return to the starting positioning by focusing on the lats elongating and decelerating the move. Only go as far as you can go without losing tension on the lats and maintaining proper form. Some protraction is acceptable since the lats are partly responsible for retraction.

6. Confirm end ranges and establish control. Pause in the shortened position of the rep to establish control and confirm the end without any pain or joint discomfort.

NOTE: If you go along and begin to feel this exercise in your rear delts it means that your shoulder blades have crept out of place and are no longer retracted and depressed. Correct by revisiting step 5.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until your set is complete.

For common mistakes and easy corrections, see 3:18​ 👍