The Bottom Line on the Bent-Over Row
The bent-over row is one of the best back exercises that you can do.
Although there are several kinds of bent-over rows, my favorite for gaining maximum muscle and strength is the conventional bent-over barbell row.
It trains every major muscle in your back, as well as your biceps, shoulders, and forearms, and as the weights get heavier, your legs even get involved.
To get the most out of the bent-over row, though, you need to learn proper form. Here’s what that looks like in a nutshell:
- Stand directly over the bar.
- Position your feet about 6 to 12 inches apart.
- Take a deep breath, bend over, and grip the bar with both your hands 3 to 6 inches outside of your shins and your palms facing down.
- Stare at a point about 6 to 10 feet in front of you, and straighten your back so that it’s more or less parallel with the floor, raising your hips as needed.
- Still holding your breath and keeping your arms straight, raise your hips to get the bar moving upward.
- With your back remaining in its neutral, flat position, pull your elbows toward the ceiling until the bar touches the bottom of your ribcage.
- Return the bar to the floor by reversing the movement.
Depending on your anatomy, mobility, equipment availability, and preferences, you may want also want to try out one or more of these bent-over variations in your training:
- Dumbbell bent-over row
- Yates row
- T-bar bent-over row
I personally like to slot the barbell row in as the second exercise in my pull workouts (after deadlifting) and often follow it up with one of the following exercises. And then, every couple of months or so, I swap the barbell row for one of the following exercises and follow it with another of the three or with wide- or close-grip pullups.
That’s it! Enjoy your bent-over rowing!