Barbell Row

How to Barbell Row: Top 5 Tips

If you are looking for an exercise to help strengthen your back then you can't go past the barbell row, also commonly referred to as the bent over row. There are heaps of exercises that can be used to strengthen the 'back' but the barbell row is one that should definitely be in every program. It does have its critics though, hence the number of variations that have stemmed from the movement pattern. When performed correctly the barbell will add some serious strength and size to your back!

Purpose of the movement:

Put simply the aim of the barbell row is to pull the weight from the floor/rack up to your chest and then return back down. A great accessory lift to the deadlift because of the brace position you are in when completing the row is pretty much mid range of a deadlift. Variations to this exercise can be made by adjusting the grip, the angle of your hip hinge and then also equipment used. It is important to have a balance training program including both push and pull muscles Anterior an posterior muscles - barbell row helps keep the back thick and strong!

Muscles involved:

When executed correctly the barbell row will not only strengthen the major muscles of the back but because of the brace position you are in the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and abdominals are also all firing.

  • Latisimus Dorsi
  • Rhombiods
  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Biceps Brachii
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor
  • Teres major

Equipment needed:

To perform the barbell row equipment needed:

  • Bar
  • Plates
  • Floor/rack

Optional extra equipment:

Weightlifting belt, wrist wraps/grips

Step by Step guide:

These steps are based on the pronated (palms facing down) grip barbell row from spotting arms on a rack set at knee height.

  1. Set spotting arms at knee height and set up bar and plates from these arms
  2. Set up same as your deadlift - feet shoulder width apart, neutral spine, and big chest
  3. Unrack the weight keeping that big chest, hinge at the hips to approx 45 degrees
  4. With long arms, then pull the weight up to the chest, squeezing shoulder blades together at the top position.
  5. Control weight back down, then pull up quick.

There are many variations to the barbell bent over row - play around with the grip used, the degree of hip hinge and also different pieces of equipment.

    Top 5 Tips:

    1. Make sure you get the set up right first
    2. Strong through your hips and torso
    3. Don't thrust the the bar up with the legs, try and stay strict to an upper body pull
    4. Pull all the way to the chest
    5. Pull up quick then control weight on the way down


    Make sure you perform the barbell row with good technique if you are having any issues with your lower back get someone to check your form, spend some more time strengthening up your torso/hips. A must have exercise in your program if you are looking to build a thick & strong back!

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