Bent-over Row

Bent-over Row

You’ll feel this one tomorrow. The Bent-over Row might look easy, but it’s an upper back beast in terms of building muscle. With that hard workout comes results.

Row, Row, Row Your Weights

This exercise can be done any number of ways. It works with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or bands. It’s a perfect hardcore workout that will give you the back shape you’ve been looking for, using shoulder muscles across the upper back that you forgot existed. 

How do you tame this beast? Here are the steps.

  • Pick up your weight of choice.
  • Lean forward, bending both knees. Keep the back flat from the top of the head, down through the glutes. Remember, there should be no arching and no hunching. 
  • Lift the arms up and out so that they are straight, hands down towards the floor.
  • Lift the weights straight up, elbows going past the torso and into the air behind. Elbows should stay in and should follow a line directly towards the ceiling. 
  • Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

This exercise works the arms, hips, abs, and of course the lower and upper back. It’s a whole body style workout, not isolating any one part but instead giving everything a turn to grow. 

Don’t Get Bent

Safety is important in this weight lifting exercise, which has long been a favorite of body builders. It goes all the way back to the first strongmen in the mid-19th century.

Then, as now, form was important to keep the body safe. That’s true with the Bent-over Row today as well. 

Be careful never to round the spine during this exercise. That would put a great deal of extra strain on the back and potentially cause problems. Rest the weights on the floor or the rack between sets to avoid putting any extra strain on the body.  

This exercise is unfortunately easy to cheat. Don’t let that be you! The upper back should be doing the work here, not the hips. It’s much easier to use leverage to get the weights up higher, pushing through with the hips. That’s counter productive and will only lead to you wasting your energy. Instead, focus on the feeling of pulling in the upper back and through the shoulders to keep the workout focused where it needs to be. 

Don’t ever lock the knees during this exercise. This will help you to direct your energy exactly where it should be for best results. 

Here are a few other tips to help you get it just right:

  • The torso should never come up straight. It goes first parallel with the floor, then at about a fifteen degree angle at the top. 
  • The entire foot should be on the floor, with the weight distributed across from toe to heel. 
  • The weights should trace a straight line. 
  • Deep breaths will help to stabilize the entire body throughout this process. 

Working a wide range of muscles in the body, the Bent-over Row is a challenging, focused, and fruitful exercise. With great form, it can take the muscles of the upper back to the next level.

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