How to Do Bent Over Barbell Row Effectively?

The bent over Barbell Row is a fundamental exercise that most people often omit thinking about building muscles on chest, arms and shoulder while exercising.

Classic exercises like bench press, squats, pull ups, dead lifts etc. are great, but barbell row is crucial in growing your overall health. It is not just adding muscles on your back, but it also does serious job on making your back muscles stronger to prevent your shoulders to roll forward while standing. This happens with the lifters who bench press often.

Advantages of Barbell Bent-Over Row

The frequent gym-goers usually focus more on glamorous muscles and reject to understand the stress and strain falls on the back. The problem lies in the fact that your shoulder will initially rotate resulting in stiff neck and tight pecs.

This leads to painful and weak lower back and serious injury in some worst cases. The discomfort may aggravate with endless pressing exercises on shoulder and chest.

Let us consider on the solution then, which is Bent-over Barbell row.

  • As the back muscles are the primary concern of this particular exercise, it helps to increase your back muscles (physique building).
  • It protects your shoulder from rolling forward by building your back muscles stronger and firm.
  • It helps in strengthening your body to give a better posture.
  • It helps to reinforce good principles of scapular retraction. This is required when you squeeze your shoulder blades and is important for shoulder health. It is critical for your capability to execute pull ups safely and properly.
  • It helps in building bigger biceps.
  • A barbell row offers a constant pull on your entire back in the downward direction, elevating muscular stress.
  • It is one of the most effective assistance exercises to various other exercises and you would be able to increase your squats, deadlifts and bench-press.

As it makes the full body move, try to focus on this muscularly taxing exercise at the beginning of your workout. Keep barbell row as your main target and aim it to do at least twice a week.

How to do Bent-over Barbell Row Properly?

Once you have loaded the barbell with weights, follow the steps:

  1. Keep your mid-foot under the bar with shoulder-width apart and stand in a medium stance.
  2. Put your palms down and lean forward from the waist.
  3. Keep your hips high and bend your knees.
  4. Try to keep your neck in line with your spine.
  5. Bend over to grab the bar in medium-grip and let it hang from the shoulders at the bottom of your thighs.
  6. Squeeze your shoulder blades to keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle from the body. This is the starting position.
  7. Straighten your back while lifting your chest.
  8. Pull the bar mostly with your upper arm against your lower chest to nearly touch your torso.
  9. Pause for a while and slowly return to the starting position.

Barbell Row Reps

Five sets of five every strong lifts.

Four sets of eight to 10 reps with a light weight.

While Barbell Rowing, Three Things to Keep a Watch on

Elbows Should be Tight

For attaining a certain degree of freedom for your shoulders, keep your elbows tight and away from your side. This will keep rotator cuffs muscles and rear dents involved in the barbell row.

Do Not Row High

It is not good to pull back your elbows high or too far that they finish higher than the torso. This may result in your shoulder joint less tight as the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) can push forward into your shoulder’s joint capsule.

Lock in your Core

The main key is spinal integrity so try to add weight as much you can maintain a strong posture. Your back should not round forward.

Reverse Grip Bent-over Barbell Row

  1. Stand straight holding a barbell with supinated grip (palms facing upwards)
  2. Bend your knees and waist to bring your torso forward. Keep the back almost parallel to the floor.
  3. Keep the head up. The arms should hang perpendicular to the floor holding the barbell in front of you. Keep your elbows closer to your torso. This is starting position.
  4. Keep the torso stationary and lift the barbell while breathing out. Do not give any force to the forearm other than holding the weights.
  5. Squeeze the back muscles and pause for a second on the top contracted position.
  6. Slowly bring the barbell to the starting position while inhaling.
  7. Repeat four sets of eight.


This exercise is not advised to people with back problems. Try a low pulley row instead.


You can perform Bent-over Row using a pronated grip (palms facing outward).

You have received some idea about Bent-over Barbell row. Now it is your turn to hit the gym and build your remarkable back muscles.