The bent over row is a classic weight training exercise that works for several major muscle groups in the upper body, including your back, lats, and biceps. This move requires you to lift a weight while you bend over at the waist with your torso nearly parallel to the ground. It's ideal for building strength and size in your back muscles.
In addition to targeting the main muscles of your upper back (latissimus dorsi), bent over rows also work (to a lesser degree) your shoulders, biceps, traps, and even your core! When done correctly, bent over rows will help improve posture by strengthening weak areas of the body like the lower and mid back, as well as create balanced development within these muscle groups.
To master bent over rows, you'll need to start with the correct form. In this article, you'll learn what is bent over row; the muscles worked during bent over row, how to master it, and its variations.
What is Bent Over Row?
The bent over row is a compound exercise that works for several muscles. It's ideal for targeting your back muscles and improving strength and size. They can also increase your functional strength for activities like carrying heavy objects.
The bent over row works numerous muscle groups in the upper body. The primary muscles worked are your latissimus dorsi (or “lats”), on either side of your back. Additionally, bent over rows also target your biceps, traps, and core.
This exercise can be used to increase both strength and size in the upper body.
The bent over row can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or bent over row machine. To master the bent over row, you'll need to start with the correct form.
Bent over rows is an effective weight-training exercise for targeting several major muscle groups in the upper body. To master the bent over row form, start with good posture and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the lift while keeping your core engaged throughout the exercise. With practice, you can increase your weight and add bent over row variations like bent over rows followed by lat pulldowns or upright rows.
When done with good form, bent over rows are an excellent exercise for building strength, posture, and size in your upper body. Add bent over rows to your workout routine, and watch your muscles strengthen!
Bent Over Row Benefits
The following are the benefits of bent over rows:
Targets Several Muscle Groups
Bent over rows is an excellent exercise for targeting several muscle groups. This exercise works the posterior chain, which targets the back muscles (latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles) and the biceps, forearms, rhomboids, and other stabilizing muscles.
Bent over rows is an effective exercise to improve posture due to the increased focus on the posterior chain or the back muscles. The rowing motion works various muscles in both the upper and lower back, helping to pull your shoulders back and decrease slouching.
Increases Core Strength
Bent over rows is an excellent exercise for targeting the core muscles. By engaging the stabilizing muscles in the lower back and abdominals, bent over rows help increase core strength and stability.
Builds Strength, Size & Power
Bent over rows is an effective exercise that can help build strength, size, and power. This exercise targets the back muscles, including the lats, traps, rhomboids, and rear delts.
In addition to developing these essential muscle groups, it also promotes mass gains in other areas of the body, such as the biceps and triceps.
Helps in Full Body Workout
Though bent over rows is primarily an upper body exercise, they also engage your core muscles which help to maintain good form throughout the movement. Bent over rows can be used as part of a full-body workout or an accessory exercise, depending on your fitness goals.
Bent Over Row Variations
The bent over row can be modified using a bent over row machine, bent over row with a bench, bent over rows with barbells and dumbbells, bent over rows with just bodyweight, or bent over rows followed by lat pulldowns or upright rows.
By combining these bent over row variations into your following workout routine, you’ll be sure to fire up your biceps and lats!
Bent Over T-Bar Row
When performing a bent over T-bar row using a machine, the user must set up the machine to fit their particular body.
- For the bent over T-bar row, position your feet on the platform so that you can have a stable center of gravity when holding the attachment.
- Grab onto the handles with an overhand grip and pull it towards your chest as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Bent Over Rows With a Bench
One variation of the bent over row is to use a bench. This allows you to keep your back straight and reduce the chances of injuring yourself.
- When using bent over rows with a bench, place one knee and the same side hand on the bench. The other foot is supported on the ground.
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand and perform bent over rows as shown in the picture above.
Bent Over Rows With Barbells
Bent over rows with barbells is a great way to hit those lats. This exercise requires you to bend forward at the hips and hold a barbell in your hands.
- Bent over rows with barbells can be done by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold a barbell in front of you using an overhand grip (palms facing away from you).
- Bend your knees slightly and bend forward at the waist, keeping your back flat and head up so that your torso is nearly parallel to the floor.
- Pull the weight up until it touches your chest, and lower it slowly.
- Keep your core engaged throughout this exercise for added stability.
Bent Over Rows With Dumbbells
Bent over rows with dumbbells is a great exercise to help increase strength and muscle mass in the back, lats, and biceps.
- Using bent over rows with dumbbells, hold a dumbbell in each hand bent over at the waist.
- Pull the weight up until your elbows are bent to around 90 degrees, then lower them back down slowly.
Bent over flys are a great addition to any arm or back workout as they work both the mid back and lats.
- Bent-over fly is performed by standing with your feet hip distance apart and holding a pair of dumbells on either side.
- Bend forward at the waist until your torso is nearly parallel to the ground while keeping your back flat.
- Simultaneously draw both arms out to the sides like wings and then return them to starting position.
- Repeat for desired reps.
Chest-Supported Bent Rows
It is an effective exercise targeting your back muscles, particularly the lats and biceps. It is a variation of the bent-over row, which allows you to maintain an upright posture while performing the exercise.
This makes it an excellent option for those who may experience discomfort from doing traditional bent-over rows with a free weight, as it helps to keep the spine in a neutral position.
- Chest-supported bent rows can be done by adjusting an incline bench at a thirty-degree angle and sitting on top of the bench facing away from it.
- Wrap your arms around the front of the bench while holding onto two dumbbells and pull them towards you as if rowing a boat, then lower them back down.
- These bent over row alternatives are great exercises for targeting the same muscles as bent over rows and can help keep your workouts challenging and exciting.
- Be sure to practice good form throughout each exercise to maximize results.
1. How do you activate lats during bent-over row?
Activating the lats during a bent-over row can be achieved by taking a wide grip on the barbell or dumbbells, engaging the lats, retracting the shoulder blades, and keeping the torso at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
Keep the back flat when performing a bent-over row; keep the back flat, pointing the chest forward throughout the entire movement. Maintaining a slight arch in the lower back is essential to ensure the lats are appropriately engaged.
Keep the elbows close to the body and drive the elbows straight back towards your hips as you lift the weight. Lastly, be sure to use a weight that is light enough to ensure proper form throughout the entire movement.
2. Does bent-over row help the biceps?
The bent-over row is a popular exercise that can help strengthen the muscles mainly in your back. The biceps are more of a secondary muscle that gets worked due to elbow flexion and extension. By performing this exercise with proper form and consistent repetition, you can increase the strength of your biceps and other muscles in the upper body.
3. Do bent over rows train lats?
Yes, bent-over rows can target and strengthen your back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi (lats). This exercise effectively builds strength in the lats, requiring you to pull the weight towards your body while maintaining a bent-over position.
Additionally, bent-over rows can help improve your posture and balance by strengthening the upper back, shoulders, and core muscles.
4. How do you hit lats with a row?
To effectively target the lats with a bent-over row, you should maintain good form throughout the exercise. Start by positioning your feet hip-width apart and bending your knees slightly.
Bend forward from the hips, keeping your back flat and chest up. With a firm grip on the weight, pull it towards your chest while keeping your elbows close to your body. Lower the weight back down in a controlled manner and repeat.
The Bottom Line
The bent over row works numerous muscle groups in the upper body, including lats, traps, biceps, and core. It is essential to start with the proper form; stand with feet hip-width apart and bent forward at the waist while keeping your back flat and head up.
Additionally, bent over rows can be made more challenging by adding bent over row variations like single arm bent over rows or bent over rows followed by lat pulldowns or upright rows. With practice, you can begin to increase the weight you use as well as improve your form. When done with good form, bent over rows are an effective exercise for building strength and size in the upper body; give them a try in your following workout routine!