How To Barbell Row
1) Start with the barbell on the ground directly over your mid-foot (1-2 inches away from your shins).
2) Bend over without dropping your hips and take an overhand grip on the barbell. Your hands should be about 2 inches outside your legs.
3) Straighten your back by squeezing your chest up (like a proud gorilla), drop your hips slightly, and flex your lats.
4) Take a big breath and pull the barbell up to your upper belly/bottom chest explosively.
5) Let the barbell fall back to the ground in a controlled manner.
6) Breathe at the bottom, take another big breath, reset your back (chest up) and perform another rep. Continue this until you have reached your desired number of reps.
Check Your Stance
Failure to take a correct stance will make it impossible to keep a straight back and cause you to hit your knees during the exercise. Make sure your stance is correct by viewing the pictures below.
Why Barbell Row?
Build Back Thickness – Barbell rows do an excellent job of building mass and thickness all over your back. This is beneficial because your back is used in every major barbell lift as either a prime mover or stabilizer. A strong back will carry over to every other lift you do which will make you bigger and stronger faster.
Bigger Biceps – The biceps have to work hard in order to row heavy weight and heavy weight stimulates new muscle growth. Most people think that curls are the best way to achieve massive biceps however, rows are superior because they allow you to attack your biceps with more weight. I was able to add an extra inch onto my biceps once I was able to row 185 pounds for reps. I did no curls at all during that time and my arms are now 17 inches even though I haven’t done a single curl in years.
Increase Your Bench – Your back acts as the foundation for the bench press and has to work very hard in order to stabilize the weight. A stronger/thicker back will guarantee a stronger bench press 100% of the time.
Build Grip Strength – Heavy rows will not only challenge your back and biceps, but they will also put your forearms and grip strength to the test. Using a double overhand grip will hit your forearms hard and make them grow like weeds. A strong grip is essential if you want to become the strongest version of yourself and carries over to all other barbell lifts.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Excessive Body Movement – As the weight gets heavier your body will want to compensate by using more momentum from your hips to meet the barbell. While using a little momentum is okay, you don’t want to get too crazy. If your rows start to look like your deadlifts you need to take some weight off the bar.
Shins Forward – Do not bring your shins forward in contact with the barbell as we do during the deadlift setup. This will cause you to hit your knees when you row which will be extremely painful. Keep the barbell far enough away so that it misses your knees on each rep.
Lower Back – Maintain a neutral lower back during the barbell row. Do not bend over or arch your lower back in any way.
Bar Off The Ground – Do not hold the bar off the ground during the exercise like most bodybuilders do when performing the barbell row. This will force your lower back to work extremely hard and limit the amount of weight you can use on the exercise. Instead, start and end each rep on the ground.
Pulling With Your Arms – Do not yank the bar up with your arms. Pull through your elbows to fully engage your back muscles.
Best Way To Improve Your Form
Filming your exercises is the second best thing you can do next to hiring a strength coach.
You will never perfect your form if you don’t know what you look like.
Anyone can easily film themselves by using the built-in camera on their smartphone.
If you don’t have anyone that can film for you, buy a smartphone tripod.
How Often Should I Barbell Row?
Your back muscles are big and powerful so they can handle lots of volume, much like the legs.
You can perform barbell rows up to 3 times a week without a problem until they start getting extremely heavy. After that, you can cycle through light and heavy row days to keep the progress coming.
Just remember to not get too crazy and overdo it. Your muscles grow outside of the gym, not during your workouts.
What If I Can’t Row Big Plates Yet?
You need to be using 45s on each side of the barbell for it to be at the correct height.
If you aren’t strong enough to row 45s with good form, you can elevate the barbell by stacking your other plates under it and placing the loaded barbell on top.
You can also row inside a power rack by setting the safety pins to the correct height.
Strength Goals For The Barbell Row
A good rule of thumb for the barbell row is to try and keep it on pace with your bench press.
If you can bench press 225 pounds, you ought to be able to row 225 pounds without Issue.
Take your time and only increase the weight when your form is perfected.
From The Man Himself –