Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows - Back Exercise Guide with Photos
Reverse grip bent over rows, also known as reverse barbell rows
or Yates rows (for Dorian Yates), are an intermediate level back
exercise. They are similar to conventional barbell rows in that
they compound multiple muscles in the arms and back along with the
Muscles Targeted: Reverse grip bent over rows target the
middle back in addition to the biceps, the shoulders and the lats
(latissimus dorsi) which are the muscles that are adjacent to the
pectorals, under the armpits.
Exercise Instructions: While holding
a barbell, carefully bend forward at your waist so that your
chest is leaning forward over your feet. Keep your knees bent
and your feet just beyond shoulder width apart. Securely grasp
the barbell with both hands, using an underhand grip with
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 close
to your stomach area. Return the barbell back down to the
starting position and repeat. Be sure to keep your head up,
back flat and your shoulders back throughout this exercise
to keep your back in a secure and stable position.
Why This Exercise is Important: Rowing is one of the most
efficient and effective exercises you can do for developing your
back muscles. The reverse grip bent over rows are great because
they allow you to tuck your elbows in close to your body allowing
you to both keep your joints free from injury and move heavy weights
to help stimulate muscle growth. This movement strengthens your
back which acts as a platform for enabling you to work your other
muscles even harder because you have the necessary stability.
Things To Avoid: Only use weights that you can handle at
all times. Avoid working with weights with which you are not comfortable
with and which do not allow you to maintain the correct form and
technique. Avoid loading the barbell with plate upon plate for the
sake of it. Also, refrain from slouching forward or bending your
back while performing this exercise, which can result in injury.
Likewise, make sure you do not push your elbows away from your torso
and always keep them close to your body. Avoid jerky movements and
rapidly lowering the barbell up and down during your sets. Always
use a smooth tempo with slow and controlled repetitions. Keeping
your head down also minimizes the efficiency of the workout.
Reps and Sets: When using an underhand grip (palms facing
out) as with the reverse grip rows or an overhand grip (palms facing
in), a good place to start is 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Vary
this setup, if you wish, with regard to your goals and the weight
Other Exercises To Use: Low pulley rows are a good alternative
to reverse grip bent over rows, especially for those who have back
problems. They target the middle back as well, but are forgiving
to the lats; working the traps (trapezius muscles) instead.
One arm dumbbell rows allow you to vary your torso-hip ratio, which
is strictly 45 degrees for the barbell row, and focus on the sides
of your back because you can use one arm at a time. This isolates
the muscles used in performing the exercises and works them more
individually. This setup is not necessarily optimized for power,
but for strengthening weaker back and arm muscles and giving you
improved definition and endurance (depending on the number of repetitions).
Similarly, lying T-bar rows work the middle back, biceps and lats
like the reverse grip rows but differ in that they target the trapezius
muscles much more along with the rear deltoids (shoulders).
All three exercises mentioned above will make for a great workout
when used in sync with the reverse grip bent over rows, but can
also be used as alternatives by beginners or for those who do not
feel comfortable with executing the reverse grip bent over row.
View our extensive database
of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that
target the back.