What is a Bent over Row?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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A bent over row is a weight training exercise in which the user bends over forward, grasps a barbell, and executes a rowing motion. It is meant to work the latissimus dorsi muscles, or lats, and it can be a very strenuous exercise to execute. It should be performed only by advanced lifters, or under the supervision of a trainer or coach, since injury to the lower back and lats is extremely likely if the lift is executed incorrectly. The bent over row is popular among weight lifters as well as athletes looking to build muscle mass.

To perform a bent over row, the lifter should choose a weight that he or she is comfortable lifting. If the lifter is unsure of how much weight to use, a good rule of thumb is to start with less weight and add weight from there. The barbell should be placed on the ground directly in front of the lifter, who will bend at the waist to grasp the bar. The knees should be bent to prevent injury in the legs, but the bulk of the bending should be done from the waist only. The lifter should grasp the bar with the hands forward, thumbs pointing backward toward the body.


The next step in the bent over row motion is the lift. The lifter will raise the barbell toward the chest, ensuring that the back stays straight and the hands stay in their original positions. At the top of the lift, the lifter will hold the position momentarily, then lower the hands toward the ground. The lifter should not put the barbell back onto the ground when performing a bent over row until several repetitions have been executed. If the lifter finds himself jerking backward when lifting the weights, the barbell may have too much weight on it and the lifter should adjust the weights accordingly.

The bent over row can be done in several variations as well. A popular version of the bent over row involves the use of dumbbells instead of one barbell. To execute such a row, the user will choose a dumbbell weight in his or her comfort zone. Leaning over forward in the same fashion as the barbell row, the lifter will grasp a dumbbell with one hand, the thumb of that hand facing forward and the barbell parallel to the body. The lifter will then raise the barbell upward, keeping the arm at the side of the body. The same exercise can be done with a dumbbell in each hand, lifting them toward the chest in the same motion as the row mentioned above.


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