Barbell Rows - Back Exercise Guide with Photos
Barbell rows may look or even feel funny when you
are first trying them out. Stick with them and they will heap piles
of muscle on your middle and upper back while helping correct any
imbalances that you may have in your shoulder capsule. A long time
staple in the bodybuilding world, keep reading to see how barbell
rows can help benefit you.
Muscles Targeted: Barbell rows work the muscles that you
can't see. In fact, there are few articles talking about how to
get stronger posterior deltoids or more shapely rhomboids which
are the muscles in your mid-back responsible for pulling your shoulder
blades together. The barbell row works these muscles in ways few
other exercises can match. It also targets your biceps, trapezius
and your latissimus dorsi. The erector spinae and forearms are worked
as stabilizing muscles in this exercise.
Exercise Instructions: Grab a barbell
and get in an area where you have a good amount of room. Bend
forward at your waist so that your chest is leaning forward
over your feet. Keep your knees slightly bent and your feet
just beyond shoulder width apart. Grasp the barbell with both
hands, using an overhand grip and place your hands about 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 into your stomach area.
Return to the start position and repeat. Be sure to keep your
head up and shoulders back throughout this exercise to keep
your back in a firm and stable position.
Why This Exercise is Important: The barbell row is the king
of upper back mass building movements. There are several reasons
why these deserve attention, even for the beach muscle aficionados
among us. First, the upper back is going to counterbalance the bench
press exercise and preserve your rotator muscles. Secondly, the
upper back is critical for posture and keeping you from being a
slouch. This muscle group should also be targeted so that your back
appears not only wide but dense from a side view.
Things To Avoid: The barbell row can have its difficulties
for the novice lifter. Many times a trainee will add too much weight
to the bar before mastering the form. Here are several things to
avoid with the barbell row. Do not allow your lower back to round
while you are pulling the bar up. This can lead to injury. Keep
your lower back flat or even with a slight arch to maintain stability.
Make sure to smoothly pull the weight off the ground with your upper
back and then lower. Do not jerk the weight by moving your body
upwards, this also can cause injury to your lower back. Often a
trainee new to the barbell row will put more and more weight on
the bar thinking that they are getting very strong. However, this
often leads to a shorter pulling motion and less emphasis placed
on the upper back. Pull the bar all the way up to the chest or stomach,
whichever feels more comfortable, and then lower it back down to
Reps and Sets: The barbell row is best performed with a
higher repetition range. Heavy weights and lower rep ranges can
cause fatigue in the lower back before the upper back muscles have
been affected. Your upper back should be the primary muscle group
targeted with this exercise. Use sets of 3-5 and reps from 5-10
for muscle growth and strength. Sets from 1-3 and repetitions from
10-15 can be good for rehabilitation of shoulder muscles as well.
Other Exercises To Use: Here are some other exercises that
can substitute for the barbell row. The barbell deadlift targets
similar muscle groups. The low cable row is a good substitute and
easier on the lower back. Another lower back saver that you can
work in is the dumbbell row. None of these exercises exactly replace
the barbell row but can help your lower back if it is injured or
strained. View our extensive database
of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that
target the back.
The barbell row is a staple exercise that everyone
should do. It strengthens your body in a way that closely resembles
real life activities and builds muscles that will round out a balanced
physique. Try it today if you're not already and be sure you take
caution to protect your lower back and use good form throughout
the entire movement.