Get a Thick V Taper Back with Bent Over Rows
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
The bent over row is an excellent exercise for the development of a wide and powerful back. It is also a great exercise for building the muscles in deltoids erector spinae and upper back.
Muscles Worked in Bent Over Row for Back
- Erector spinae
- Upper back
- Trapezius, Middle
- Trapezius, Lower
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Teres Major
- Deltoid, Posterior
- Teres Minor
- Pectoralis Major, Sternal
- Biceps Brachii
- Triceps, Long Head
- Erector Spinae
- Gluteus Maximus
- Adductor Magnus
How to Properly Perform the Bent Over Row for Back
After attaining the correct posture
start doing the following steps.
- Make sure your head is parallel
to the ground and centered over your shoulders.
- Bring your chest up.
- As you bring your chest up, your shoulders must relax and not go up.
Therefore, relax your shoulders down and back.
- Tighten your abs by pulling your belly button to your spine.
- Align your knees with your second and third toes.
- Make sure your knees are not locked. There must always be a slight bend in
- Stand with your feet spaced comfortably apart (usually hip width).
- Stand with your body weight placed at the mid points of your feet.
- Bend your torso over, keeping a
natural arch in your spine, keeping your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight, shoulders back and chest
- Take a big breath before pulling the weight to your chest. Breathe on the floor between reps.
- Don’t extend your hips too much. Your back shouldn’t rise much higher then where it was at the start of the Barbell Row
- Under control, pull the weight up to your lower chest (xiphoid process), while focusing on bringing
your shoulder blades together.
- Stop just after your elbow joints are in line with your shoulders and reverse
the motion back down.
- Under control, lower the weight, stop just before your elbow joints are
straight and reverse the motion back up.
The Importance of Building a Strong Back
The back is a very large muscle group which should be trained.
If the back is not trained with the same intensity and frequency as the chest
muscles, muscular imbalances will occur and injury is much more prevalent.
Tips for Maximizing the Muscle Building Effects of Bent Over Rows
- Torso may be kept horizontal for stricter execution.
- Knees are bent in effort to keep low back straight.
- If low back becomes rounded due to tight hamstrings, either knee
should be bent more or torso may not be positioned as low.
- If low back is rounded due to poor form, dead lift weight to
standing position and lower torso into horizontal position with knees bent and
- A shoulder width or underhand grip can increase lat involvement
by emphasizing shoulder extension over transverse extension.
- Don’t pull with your hands. Pull your elbows to the ceiling. Try to make your shoulder-blades touch & open your chest.
- The bar starts on the floor on each rep. Don’t overdo the hip extension.
- Don’t try to hold the bar against your chest.
- Don’t try to return the bar slowly to the floor.
Common Errors While Performing the Bent Over Row
Variations of the Bent Over Row
- Bar Too Far Away. Keep the bar close to your body. Put the bar over your feet, straight under your shoulder-blades.
- Back Going Vertical. It’s not a Deadlift. Your upper-back should do the work, not your hips. Lower the weight if you extend your hips too much.
- Dropping the Chest. You’ll drop your chest to meet the bar when the weight gets heavy. Lower the weight when this gets excessive.
- Extending the Knees. Use hip extension on the way up, but no knee extension. Keep your knees unlocked but straight.
are intended to work different subgroups of muscles, or work the same muscles
in slightly different ways. There are plenty of variations to the exercise. Some other variations include:
Additional Exercises for the Back
Dumbbell Bent Over Row. Same movements as as detailed above.
- Pendlay Row. Pendlay Rows involve arching of your upper-back.
- Reverse-grip Row. Using an underhand grip. Works biceps more.
These exercises will help develop a big and powerful back when used with the bent over rows:
Lat bar Pulldown
Machine Seated Row
- Seated Cable Rows
Lat Bar Pulldown
- Reverse Lat Bar Pulldown