Bent-Over Barbell Rows

The Bent-Over Barbell Row exercise is a basic exercise and a very good back developer.

It can be easy to use poor form with this one, so be sure to keep your body in the proper position while performing the exercise. This exercise will hit the lats, the upper back muscles as well as the biceps. It's a great overall mass-building exercise.

Bent-Over Barbell Rows


How to Do Bent-Over Barbell Rows:

The Bent-Over Row builds thickness in the upper back and uses the lower back and abs to stabilize the body during the movement. The biceps also contribute to the movement, however care should be taken to minimize biceps involvement as the biceps are the weakest muscle in the chain.

There are several variations but the most effective version for the lats is the reverse-grip or underhand row. 

Bend your knees and bend over at the waist, keeping an arch in your lower back and looking forward. It is important not to round your lower back in this exercise. 

Start position for the barbell bent-over row for the back.

Take a shoulder-width, palms-up grip on the barbell. Your knees will be inside your arms during the movement. The next thing you should do is brace your abs solidly, like somebody is going to punch you in the stomach. This will stabilize your abdominal area.

Keeping your knees bent (the angle will be somewhat greater than 90 degrees) and back arched and without lifting with your lower back, pull the barbell back and up into your lower abdomen. 

Top position for the barbell bent-over row for the back.
Fight the tendency to stand up to help cheat the weight up, which can strain your lower back. Also, do not dip your upper body down to meet the bar. This will reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and can lead to lower back injury. 

When done with proper form, the bent-over row is one of the most effective back exercises you can do.


Common Errors in the Bent-Over Row:

1. Improper body position

This is most commonly seen as the straight-legged, rounded back style. This is the worst position for your lower back to be taking weight on. Always keep your lower back arched, your knees bent, and your head up and butt down.

Error: hunched-over position for the barbell bent-over row for the back


2. Dipping the upper body down

This is often done as you pull the bar up in an effort to get the weight up to the end of the rep. Instead of pulling the bar up to you, you are dropping yourself down to meet the bar. Some movement like this, especially as you get into heavier loads, is going to happen no matter how hard you try to stabilize.

Just do your best to keep your torso as steady as you can.


Tricks for the Bent-Over Row:

1. Coming in for a landing

Imagine your body as a plane coming in for a landing. This will help with your body positioning. Always look forward when doing this exercise. Looking down will automatically cause your back to round over.


2. Butt against the wall

If you have trouble keeping in the correct position, do this exercise with your butt pressed against the wall. By keeping it firmly in one spot, you will eliminate the tendency to stand up.


Learn how to perform Seated Cable Rows here.



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