Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Row, Row, Row
Posted By Scott Bird

This is just a quick look at several of the popular – as well as a couple of the less well-known – rowing exercises for the back. Naturally, there are many other ways to work the same muscles (particularly the lats), including the many varieties of pull-ups and pull-downs.

Bent-over Row
For a long time, the Bent-over row was a bodybuilding staple. Despite being seen a little less these days, it’s an excellent exercise. As with many on this list, there are several ways to do them.

Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width (I realise Arnold’s using a narrow stance here), with the loaded bar on the ground in front of you. Bend at the waist, bend legs slightly, flatten the lower back, grab the bar with a wide overhand grip and pull it to your chest. The plates should be just off the ground at the lowest point, and the bar is pulled to mid pecs.

Pendlay Row
This is really just a very strict bent-over row, with the bar pulled to the abdomen. It is often performed using an underhand grip.
Yates Row

Dorian Yates famously used a modified bent-over row with great success. The differences from the standard variety are: standing more upright (torso at about 70°), use of an underhand grip (so as to allow more bicep involvement) and pulling the bar to the navel.

Dumbbell Row
With one knee and one hand (left knee and left hand if working right side) on a bench, and a dumbbell on the ground at its side, grab the dumbbell and lift it straight up by contracting your lat and bending your arm. Slowly lower it, and repeat.
Dumbbell Row (Tripod)

Rather than placing one knee on the bench, stand behind the bench and only use a hand for support. The front leg should be slightly bent, the other one a little further back (but straight). Lift the dumbbell as usual, but add a slight twist at the top to increase the ROM.

Lying Row
This is essentially a bent-over row done whilst lying face-down on a bench. The bar is pulled to the chest (or as close as the bench allows).
T-bar Row

I first saw Arnold doing this many years ago – a very impressive looking exercise. With the weight on one end of a bar (and something else holding down the other end), straddle the bar, grab it a little below the plates (with both hands) and pull it to your chest. Note – if the other end of the bar isn’t weighed down enough, you won’t be having kids anytime soon.

Chest-Supported Row
Somewhere between a T-bar row and a Lying Row, only using an incline instead of a flat bench.
Seated Cable Row

Grab the handle, lean back slightly with legs bent and pull handle to waist. Pull shoulders back, push chest forward and straighten back during contraction. Return until arms are extended, shoulders pulled forward, and back flexed.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
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