If I had to pick a favourite move, the bent-over row would be on my shortlist. As a weight training exercise, bent-over rows target and tone several back and arm muscles, plus your core.
Of course, that only happens if you’re doing them with proper form and recruiting all the muscles you need to get the max benefits.
So if you’re not sure whether or not you’re performing bent over rows correctly, don’t worry. As a certified personal trainer, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about the bent-over row — its benefits, technique, variations, and more!
How To Do A Bent Over Row
- With your feet under your hips, hinge at your hips with your knees slightly bent and your arms just in front of your legs, as demo-d by certified trainer Judine St. Gerard, above.
- Focus on keeping your back flat, torso parallel to the floor or at a 45-degree angle, and core engaged.
- Drive your elbow back toward your hips with weights in hand, feeling your shoulder blades squeeze together, then slowly lower them back down.
Sets/reps for best results: 12-15 reps at moderate weight for three sets or 6-12 reps at a moderately heavy weight for three sets.
Benefits Of The Bent-Over Row
The bent row is one of my favourite moves of all time! It helps strengthen your back, improve posture, and increases your overall strength in your grip (so your forearms and hands) and core. And that’s just for starters.
Doing a bent-over row (the right way, of course!) will even work your glutes and hamstrings too. As such, it’s a great exercise to practice if you want to perfect other hinge and pulling exercises, like deadlifts, because it targets the same muscles groups.
Variations Of The Bent-Over Row
- Eccentric bent-over row: Also known as my favourite row! In this version, you’ll pull the weight up and then slowly lower it back down for 3-5 seconds. This is a great way to build strength faster and ensure that you are using all the right muscles.
- Alternating bent-over row: Pull one weight up at a time while the other arm stays straight. This is a great way to focus on core and anti-rotation because you have to keep both hips and shoulders stable and squared, even as one arm is moving.
- Isometric hold bent-row: Want to build strength and endurance? Try this variation. You’ll row one weight back and hold it there, really making sure to engage those muscles, while you complete 12-15 reps with the other arm. Then switch!
How To Work The Bent-Over Row In To Your Workout
Here are some easy ways to incorporate this movement in to your current routine:
- Try it as a superset: Perform bent over rows back-to-back with a vertical pulling exercise, like a chin-up or lateral pull down. Just be sure to give yourself enough rest in between supersets (1–2 minutes) to let your muscles recover!
- Couple it with a pushing movement: Pair the bent-over row with a pushing movement like a chest press, push up, or overhead shoulder press that way your muscles are being strengthened in both directions.