What Is the Bent-Over Row?
The bent-over row isn’t a specific exercise so much as a category of exercises that involve bending over at the waist and lifting either a barbell or dumbbell toward your chest.
When people say bent-over row, though, what they’re usually referring to is the classic “barbell row,” which has been a staple in strength and bodybuilding training for decades now.
That said, there are several different other types of bent-over rows that people often do, including Pendlay rows, dumbbell rows, Yates rows, and the T-bar bent-over row, to name a few.
The main differences between these different kinds of rows are the way you grip the bar, what kind of resistance you use (barbell vs dumbbell vs machine), and how strict you are in using your legs to assist the movement.
For the standard barbell row you need a barbell (either the standard 45-pound version or a preloaded one). If you’re using heavier weights, then you’ll also probably want to do the exercise on a padded floor or deadlift platform to make sure you don’t damage the plates or the floor.
Here’s what the standard barbell row looks like:
As you can see, to perform the standard barbell row, you stand over a loaded barbell with your feet about 6 to 12 inches apart.
Then, bending at the waist, you reach down and grip the bar with your hands about double shoulder-width apart and a double overhand grip (palms facing down).
Flatten your back and initiate the exercise by raising your hips to pull the weight off the floor, building momentum. Continue pulling the barbell until it touches your torso somewhere around the bottom of your rib cage, and then reverse the movement to allow the barbell to drop back to the floor.
There are some finer points we’ll get into later in this article, but those are the broad strokes.