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Barbell Row

Barbell Row is one of the best exercises to strengthen the whole back. For many top bodybuilders, it is considered the best back exercise out there! On this point, without denying the effectiveness of Barbell Row to develop the mass of the back, it should be noted that this “wonderful” exercise has also injured the lower back of a multitude of bodybuilders.

Barbell Row is certainly a complete and very effective movement to gain mass at the level of the back, but it is also a risky exercise for the lower back. Good technique and compliance with certain instructions are essential to avoid injury. The exercise is therefore not recommended for beginners who do not yet have the “size” strong enough.

The Barbell Row gives strength to the entire back. It is still necessary to have a good execution to feel the effect where it is needed. Indeed, the arm muscles should only be used to pull the bar; it is the back muscles that must contract first! Inclined rowing is also the reverse exercise of the Barbell Bench Press (antagonist). It solicits the opposing (opposite) muscles relative to the bench.

Why Make Barbell Row?

Barbell Row is an important polyarticular strength exercise for the development of the back muscles and the muscles of the middle of the back. This exercise also allows you to work on the posterior part of the deltoids.

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Execution Of The Exercise

  • Standing with your feet spaced about the same width as your shoulders, grab a bar on the floor in front of you with your hands spread wider than your shoulders and palms facing your body. With arms outstretched, return to the upright position making a correct deadlift.
  • Keeping your knees slightly bent, lean forward until your bust is between the parallel and about 30 ° above the horizontal plane, head up. The bar should hang down in front of your body. This is the starting position.
  • Inhale and hold your breath by pulling the bar toward your waist. Keep the elbows inside and close to the body so that they move backward when you pull the bar up.
  • Concentrate on pulling with your back and shoulder muscles and raise your elbows as high as possible. At the top, your elbows should be well above the level of your back.
  • Make sure to contract your back extensor muscles to try to maintain a normal arch in the spine.
  • Hold your breath until you reach the end of the movement.

Targeted Muscles

As indicated above, this exercise allows you to work on several muscles. The main ones are of course the big dorsal, located in the middle of the lower back, on the lateral parts, and the big circle, located on the upper part of the big dorsal. It owes its name of “large circle” to its rounded shape.

So, when you execute the movement of bringing the bar back towards your waist, you are essentially working the large dorsal on its lower part.

And bringing your shoulders and elbows back stresses the upper part of the back, as well as the trapezoid and the rhomboid.

The trapezium is the muscle that runs from the base of the skull to your shoulders and descends to the middle of the spine. So it’s an important muscle in your back.

The rhomboid, meanwhile, is located under the trapezoid, about at the level of the middle of your back.

6 Training Tips

  1. Keep the bust stable during the whole exercise. It should stay close to the parallel all the time, about 30 ° above the horizontal plane, especially during the draw phase.
  2. Keep your feet apart at a width equal to or slightly larger than your shoulders for better stability and so that you can keep your back in the correct position during the run. A narrower position can lead to an unbalanced or flickering performance.
  3. Make sure your grip is equal to or greater than your shoulder width during the draw. This makes it easier for your elbows to move over your back and provides more balance.
  4. Pull the elbows as far back as possible. The more they are mounted, the more the muscle is stressed.
  5. When you pull the bar up to your waist, the lower back fibers do most of the work. When you also raise your shoulders back and your elbows above the level of your back, you recruit more the upper fibers with the middle beam of the trapezoid and the rhomboid.
  6. To further involve the posterior deltoids, the dorsal fin, the rhomboid, and the mid beam of the trapezoid in full amplitude, keep the elbows outward and pull the bar more toward the chest (not the waist). This is a more difficult variant and you will immediately notice the different stress on the muscles.

How To Avoid Injuries?

Proper exercise is essential to avoid injury.

Thus, keeping good spacing between your feet will allow you to maintain good stability during exercise. If your legs are too tight you may be unbalanced and therefore unable to hold the bar, which can be dangerous.

Always in a spirit of balance during the exercise, your hands must keep a width greater than your shoulders. This will make it easier to move your elbows backward and give you a good balance.

To avoid injury to the lower back, it is important to keep the bust still during the entire movement while maintaining the normal arch of your spine. Indeed, if you do the round back, while you pull the bar you risk being seriously injured.

Also, be sure to keep your knees barely bent. There is no point in trying the stretched legs exercise, as this will tend to make your back round and therefore increase the risk of a back injury.

Interest Of The Barbell Row

Barbell Row overhand is one of the most effective exercises for building a muscular back.

Nevertheless, the bust position tilted at 90 degrees makes it an uncomfortable movement to force and above all very risky for the lower back.

(I see you as a person with an interest in bodybuilding! )
So I advise you of these products that you will need in this sport:


Inhale while bringing the bar against the torso and exhale when lowering it. Gain waist by contracting the abs so that the bust stays straight.


At the material level, we can use a straight or angled EZ bar, more pleasant. This exercise can be replaced by V bar pulldown or one-arm dumbbell rowing. There are also machines where you sit or lie face down on a bench, enough to do rowing safely!
If you do not have a solid lumbar or if you are fragile, prefer these alternatives.
As an alternative exercise to bodyweight, it is possible to do reverse rowing using a straight bar placed on a support. To do this, you need to position your body horizontally, back to the ground, and raise your feet using a stool. It looks like pull-ups but with the bust parallel to the floor. You can also use the TRX straps.

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