The barbell bent-over row is a compound exercise used to build strength and size in both the lower and upper back. It targets nearly all of the muscles in the back, but particularly the lats, rhomboids, and lower back. It is commonly utilized as an accessory movement for the deadlift in powerlifting but is also popular in strength and muscle-focused upper-body workouts.
Bent-Over Row Overview
The bent-over row is a back day staple exercise and is considered one of the best muscle building back building exercises you can do.
Sometimes referred to as the barbell row, “the bent-over row is a staple movement in most muscle-building workouts. Those looking to build muscle utilize the bent-over row to target their back, bicep, and core muscle. Those in powerlifting and strength circles perform bent-over rows to increase their strength on the big 3 movements”.
The bent-over row is typically used to build and strengthen the muscles of the upper back (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius). However, it requires assistance from muscles of the low back, core, and arms to perform a bent-over row correctly.
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There are several variations of the bent-over row one can and should perform.
Bent-Over Row Variations include:
- Dumbbell Bent Over Row
- One Arm Bent Over Dumbbell Row
- Reverse Grip Bent Over Row
- T-Bar Row
- Smith Machine Row
The back is a tricky muscle group to build and strengthen. Sometimes it can help to vary the degree to which you perform the bent-over row as well as the hand placement on the bar. Regardless, “the bent-over row is a great exercise to include in your back workout”.
Bent-Over Row Instructions
- Assume a standing position while holding the bar using a double overhand grip.
- Hinge forward until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor (or slightly above) and then begin the movement by driving the elbows behind the body while retracting the shoulder blades.
- Pull the bar towards your belly button until it touches your body and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position under control.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
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Bent-Over Row Tips
- Experiment with head position and see which option (looking forward vs. packing the neck) works better for you.
- Keep some tone through your abdominals as you pull the bar into your body to ensure you don’t arch excessively through your spine.
- Don’t allow momentum to dictate the movement, control the bar throughout the entirety of each rep.
- Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
- Similarly, ensure the shoulder blade moves on the rib cage. Don’t lock the shoulder blade down and just move through the glenohumeral joint.
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