Bent Over Barbell Rows


Bent over barbell rows are one of the better back strength exercises. While the main focus is on the upper back, muscle recruitment is drawn from the entire body to stabilize and maintain an upright position. This is an excellent overall strength builder for the advanced trainee, however, due to the great deal of body awareness involved to complete each repetition, this movement is not recommended for beginners. Beginners should start with machines etc. and gradually make the appropriate progressions once more simplistic exercises are mastered.

The version described below has the trainee using a wide hand placement, which promotes the elbows to be elevated to a position just below the shoulders. The result of the elbow-to-shoulder position is greater muscle recruitment from the rhomboid muscle group. The result of the additional rhomboid recruitment may be pain relief because weakness in that particular area has been shown to commonly promote upper back complications, especially for those who spend long durations in a hunched over position at a computer desk.


  1. Once the barbell is appropriately loaded, grasp it using an overhand grip with hands positioned 4-6 inches wider than shoulder width.
  2. Lift barbell off rack and assume the set up position which has your knees slightly bent, buttocks pushed back, core tight to maintain spinal alignment, and your torso just higher than parallel with the ground.
  3. Exhale and retract shoulder blades upon movement initiation. Follow through by flexing arms and drawing barbell to a position just below your chest.
  4. Inhale and at a controlled speed, lower barbell back down to stating position.
  5. Repeat until desired number of repetitions are completed.


By performing bent over barbell rows using a palms up grip at shoulder width, you can maximize the recruitment of the biceps. With this version, the barbell should be drawn to the abdominal region.

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2 Responses to “Bent Over Barbell Rows”

  1. […] but about a week or so after I got back to Canada, I ended up messing up my back while performing bent over barbell rows at the gym. And yea, that actually links to one of the exercise sites I’m working on – just […]

  2. […] standing cable row exercise is very similar to the bent over barbell row in the sense that a lot of the same techniques apply. The rope version makes a great finisher to […]