Home > Exercise > Bent over Row

Bent over Row


The The Bent over Row will build thickness in the upper back and use the lower back and abs. It builds thickness in the upper back and uses the lower back and abs to stabilize the body during the movement.

The biceps also contribute to the movement, however care should be taken to minimize biceps involvement as the biceps are the weakest muscle in the chain.

The Bent over Row not only targets your lats (lattisimus dorsi), but simultaneously works the biceps muscles of the upper arm and all the flexor-related forearm muscles.

While bent over, you also target your wrists, elbows, shoulders and even some of your abs, hips and thighs! The Barbell Bent over Row is an all-around great exercise for the entire upper body.

How to perform the Bent over Row with a Barbell:

  1. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip that is just beyond shoulder-width and hold it down at arm's length.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  3. Bend at the hips, lowering your torso about 45-degrees and let the bar hang straight down from your shoulders.
  4. Pull the bar up to your torso, pause, and slowly lower it.

Bent over Row with a Barbell

Exercise Tips

  • Consider alternating your hand grip while "rowing" by placing palms up, or palms down.
  • Practice deep breathing while doing the exercise.

Variation: Bent Over Row with Dumbbells

A variation of this exercise can be performed using dumbbells, by bending forward and pulling the dumbbell towards the chest.

Another variation would be doing the motion with straight arms in a semi-lock out position to decrease the leverage and isolate the latssimus dorsi more.

This exercise can help with knee, low back, shoulder and/or neck pain, and even depression!

How to perform the Bent Over Row Exercise with Dumbbells:

  1. Bending at the hips, place your right hand and right knee on a bench or chair.
  2. Holding a dumbbell in your left hand let that arm hang straight down with your palm facing in.
  3. Slowly pull the dumbbell up toward your chest, keeping your elbow and arm close by your side.
  4. Hold for a second, then slowly lower. Repeat with your right arm.

Bent Over Row with Dumbbells

Variation II: Bent Over Circular Rows

This variation is for the mid back, biceps, chest, upper back

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Holding a 5 to 8 pound dumbbell in each hand, bend forward so upper body is parallel to the floor and hands and weights are extended toward the floor. Keeping weights parallel to one another, slowly begin to circle them over to the left, up and in toward your chest, over to the right, and down. Repeat the circle to the right; that's 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Bent Over Circular Row

Training Tip

Keep your abs engaged to hold yourself steady throughout the circles.

Variation III: Wide Grip Seated Row

This exercise works both your back and chest muscles.

Tips and Safety Advice

Keep your back straight and midsection tight throughout the exercise. Don't use momentum to move the weight.

As you pull the weight back squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were trying to hold something in between them.

We show the exercise utilizing a machine below; however, you can also do this standing straight and tall using a theraband. They are especially safe for beginners. Standing tall, hold the theraband at a resistant grip, with both hands, in front of your body. Slowly and steadily pull back toward your torso. Return to starting position, repeat.

How to perform Wide Grip Seated Row Exercise:

  1. Sit facing a low pulley machine with your legs bent comfortably and your back upright.
  2. Grasp the wide-grip handle firmly and pull in towards your stomach. Only your shoulders and arms should move during this exercise.
  3. Exhale as you pull the handle in, inhale as you let it out.

Wide Grip Seated Row Exercise

Back to Exercise!