Muscles Targeted: Bent over barbell rows, being a pull exercise, primarily work the latissimus dorsi (lats) and trapezius muscles. Secondarily, they target the biceps and rear deltoids. For those looking for a great, compound muscle building exercise to train on back or shoulder days, this is it!
Exercise Advice: Warming up is crucial before you first start doing heavy sets of barbell rows. The best way to warm up is to start performing the exercise with a very light weight, then work your way up to your working sets with a heavier weight. Bent over rows may take a while to perform with perfect form and technique, as there are quite a bit of things lifters must keep in mind while doing the exercise. Somewhat similar to a bench press, the bar should be gripped overhand to put the primary focus on the back muscles. Your hands should be spread out at about shoulder width position with a strong grip. Furthermore, having a complete range of motion is crucial for maximizing muscle growth and making the workout safer. At the bottom of each rep, the bar should be as close to the floor as possible to stimulate your lats and attain a full stretch. At the top of each rep, the bar should touch the chest or sternum, and the shoulder blades should be squeezed back. Strict form is crucial on this exercise to avoid injury. Never try to cheat by jerking with your upper body, or pulling up with your biceps. To perform barbell rows correctly, you should pull with your elbows and pull them towards the ceiling. Your torso should remain parallel, or as close to parallel as possible to the ground. To help maintain strict form, it is crucial to keep your neck and head in a fixed position throughout the exercise in order to prevent injury.
To start, the bar should be dormant on the floor and your feet should be in a shoulder width stance. The bar should be a few inches away from your shins. Hands should be placed shoulder width apart at even placement on the bar with an overhand grip. With a slight bend in your knees and a straight neck, begin to pull the weight with your elbows. Pulling with your elbows is a hard concept to grasp. A great tip to aid those having trouble is to avoid jerking your arms up and focus on using your lats to pull. A barbell rack or a bench rack are great pieces of equipment to have in the gym to perform this exercise.
Things to Avoid: There are many common mistakes to avoid when doing barbell rows. The most common mistake is to be too upright with your upper body. The torso should always remain as close to parallel as possible to reduce lower back injury, with your knees bent. The second most common mistake is jerking the weight up. To fix this, the weight must be moved in a strict and controlled manner while focusing on your lats to pull the weight up.
Reps and Sets: Barbell rows can be used in a wide variety of routines. It is most commonly done in reps of 8-12 reps per set, with a total of three to five sets. This can vary depending on which goals you are training for (muscle mass, overall strength).
Other Exercises to Use: Along with barbell rows to include in your back workout, there are many other exercises that can be included with it. Deadlifts, pull-ups, and T-bar rows are amazing movements that compliment the barbell row very nicely. Since barbell rows target the biceps as a secondary muscle group, its common to include back and biceps in the same workout in order to target both muscle groups. Make sure to train your larger muscles first (back muscles) in your workout and then finish with the smaller muscle group (biceps) in order to have the highest amount of strength to dedicate to the bigger muscles for stimulating a maximum amount of muscular growth.