Welcome back to Body Mechanics. A few weeks ago we covered the wide-grip pullup and chin-up. I very briefly mentioned the bent over row as a primary lift during that article and wanted to go back and discuss it to be thorough. The bent over row is a great upper body exercise that focuses on the posterior aspect.  Although it is primarily a back exercise, it really does require a lot of stabilization through the core and lower extremities. The exercise is extremely prevalent within the body building industry because of its ability to increase mass relatively quickly, and it has been proven time and time again as a go to exercise because of this.

The bent over row is a closed kinetic chain and compound exercise, because it is a multi-joint exercise. It can also be performed as a power movement, the versatility of the exercise makes it easy to see why so many have been able to benefit from this exercise and what it has to offer. As with just about any exercise, the ability to regress or progress the exercise is vital to the individual, and the bent over row is no exception. Furthermore, it will keep every individual in a state of progressive overload no matter the lifting experience, if we constantly add to the stimulus. The bent over row is a pull exercise that focuses on the muscles of the back specifically the Latissimus dorsi, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Teres Major, Teres Minor, Posterior Deltoid, Brachioradialis, Core Musculature and even the Pectoralis Major.

  • Feet should be hip width apart
  • Grasp the bar in a closed pronated grip
  • Lift the bar in deadlift fashion
  • Maintain a slight bend in the knees
  • Flex torso as close to parallel to the floor as your range of motion will allow
  • Maintain an arch in your lower back
  • Chest up, shoulders back, focus your eyes (a few feet in front)
  • Extend the arms fully and let the bar hang (This is the starting position)
  • Flex at the elbows and bring the weight to your upper abdomen

The bent over row has so many benefits, but must be practiced with caution as it can worsen a previous injury or promote a new one. The exercise as we know focuses on the back, mostly the upper aspect of it. Seeing as we are flexing at the hips it is imperative that great caution is practiced when lifting heavier weights. Also because we are working in the flexed position, it is a good idea to focus on some lower back exercises prior to lifting heavy weights with the bent over barbell row. If you suffer from lower back pains I strongly advise against performing this exercise, as it will only contribute to more pain and discomfort. Remember the idea is to get better with every set, rep and breath!

Happy Lifting!

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