Muscles Targeted: T-bar rows are one of the most important exercises to include in your workout to target the large muscles of your back, specifically the latissimus dorsi (lats). At the same time, it also hits your teres major and biceps brachii.
Exercise Instructions: Grab a barbell and position yourself in an area where you have an adequate amount of room. Straddle the barbell and grab it with both hands, one above the other (you can also attach a V-bar onto the barbell). Bend forward at the waist so that your chest is leaning forward over your feet. Keep your knees slightly bent (a bit more bent than they are with one-arm rows) and your feet just beyond shoulder width apart. Start with your arms fully extended, allowing the barbell to hang at about mid-shin level. Next, lift or “row” the barbell up and close to your stomach. Return the barbell back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired amount of reps. Be sure to keep your head up and shoulders back throughout this exercise in order to keep your back in a firm and stable position throughout the movement.
Why This Exercise is Important: If you want to achieve the classic V-taper look with a wide back and narrow waist, then T-bar rows is the exercise that can help you. It will improve your posture and help prevent back injuries. It not only works your back muscles, but also provides lower body and core muscle stimulation.
Most people avoid this exercise because it is uncomfortable and awkward. Unlike machines designed to simulate the action of a barbell row, a two arm row requires the back to stabilize on its own. There are no supports, braces or platforms that you can use. Along with this, your lower body muscles are placed under tension and appear to pull the focus away from your lats.
While using machines can isolate the movement directly on the lats, the end results are subpar because the back muscles works as a cohesive unit. The lats, rhomboids, and erectors are all components integrated to work in tandem. Thus, when you perform isolated exercises, other back muscles barely come into play. When that happens, your back becomes shallow. That is, viewed from the front, you may have a decent back, but when you turn to your side or back, you will find inadequate development. So if you want a dense and muscular back, you have to work all of the muscles as a unit with the right types of exercises.
Things To Avoid: Pick a weight that is challenging enough for you to complete a set but not too heavy that you lose your balance or too light that you breeze through the movement. Tighten your abs and hold your body upright. Shrug your shoulders back while keeping proper posture. Bend down and pick up the barbell with both hands and start the set.
Posture is extremely important when performing T-bar rows. Keep your back straight as you perform the exercise. If you allow it to become rounded, the forces acting on the base of your spine increase dramatically and you may end up injuring yourself. Do not collapse your shoulders as you do the exercise. Flex your arms and raise your elbows until they touch your body. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the barbell back down. Do not jerk your arms or hurry through the set. Do not use momentum to pull the weight up.
Reps and Sets: Quality is more important than quantity when doing T-bar rows. For beginners, do at least 8-10 reps for 2-3 sets. Do not worry if you cannot complete the set at first. Check the weight to determine whether you are trying to lift too much and adjust the weight accordingly. Advanced trainees should shoot for 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.
Other Exercises To Use: For a well-rounded workout routine for your back, do some barbell deadlifts and pull-ups along with seated cable rows. The back is a large muscle group so you need to put in more work if you want to fully develop it. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the back.