The barbell row is a traditional exercise for building back strength. The action may seem easy, but it demands the coordination of several muscle groups.
Have you ever tried rowing with a barbell? It is a full-body exercise that develops back strength, core strength, and performance in heavy lifts and bench presses. However, improper execution might result in sports injuries and lower back and lumbar discomfort.
The main training component of the barbell row.
Barbell row is a multi-joint compound exercise that activates muscle groups throughout the body. The main muscles include the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and erector spinae. It also activates muscle groups such as the posterior hamstrings, triceps, gluteus maximus, and deltoids.
Barbell Row Muscles Worked
Back muscles, rhomboids, posterior deltoids
Almost the entire upper body is involved in the barbell rowing exercise. The rhomboids and trapezius are the muscles of the back that pull the arms down and back, and they are the main muscle groups used in the barbell rowing exercise; the rhomboids and trapezius are the muscles of the upper back that are responsible for pressing the scapulae downward, and the posterior deltoids drive the arms upward to pull the barbell.
In the case of the barbell row, the biceps are the secondary muscle group that assists in the movement, so the biceps should not feel intensely tired; if the biceps feel too exhausted, you can first reduce the weight and adjust the movement.
The core muscles are mainly composed of the internal obliques, external obliques, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae, which are responsible for maintaining the correct position of the spine and preventing the trunk from swaying.
The gluteus maximus and the back leg
The rear legs and gluteus maximus are responsible for pelvic stability.
Common mistakes in barbell row
A full-body thrust risks injury to the lumbar spine and reduce the use of the broad muscles of the back.
Excessive bending of the elbow
If the pain in your biceps is greater than the pain in your broad back muscles during training, chances are that you are flexing your arms too much. You should focus on pulling the weight with your back muscles and imagine your hands gently hooking the barbell rather than focusing on your arm muscles.
Poor Cervical Posture
The neck position is very important. Raising or lowering your head can throw your spine out of balance. The neck should be in line with the back. Do not deliberately raise or lower your head, and keep your eyes straight ahead.
The Knee Flexion Angle.
Squatting at too large an angle can make the hips too low and make it difficult to maintain body posture during exercise, but also not completely straight. Properly bending the knees can push the hips back and hold yourself in the proper position with a bending angle of 15-20 degrees.
The Correct Action for Barbell Row Form.
- Raise the barbell to the same height as your knees.
- Spread your feet shoulder-width apart, tuck your chin in and push your chest up slightly.
- Extend your hips backwards, keeping your knees slightly bent (15–20 degrees), and gently hook your hands around the barbell row.
- Keep your eyes flat in front of you and do not deliberately raise or lower your head.
- Stand up, clip your hips, change the way you breathe, and spread your weight evenly across both feet.
- Extend your hips back while maintaining a natural bend in your knees.
- Keep your back straight, so your upper body is parallel to the floor.
Different Variations of The Barbell Row Form
Bent Over Barbell Row
Dumbbells are not bound by the bar, so the range of motion will be greater, and the stimulation of the back muscles will be stronger, but more small muscle groups are needed to stabilize the movement.
(1) Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, knees slightly bent, hips pushed back, and upper body parallel to the ground.
(2) Tighten the shoulder blades and slide the dumbbells toward the chest, keeping the core stable and the back straight. Stay for a second, then keep the core and return to the starting position.
One Arm Barbell Row
Compared to barbell and dumbbell rowing, unilateral dumbbell row is more suitable for novices because it focuses on the same side of the muscle contraction, allowing for improved focus, plus having a place to support it can help with body stability.
(1) Place the hand and foot on the bench press chair on the non-training side, with the hand directly below the shoulder and the foot kneeling on the training chair.
(2) The other foot can be placed on the side or back side of the floor.
(3) Keep your back parallel to the floor and tighten your core.
(4) Hold the dumbbell in your other hand, remembering not to shrug your shoulders and to keep your shoulder blades stable.
(5) Pull your elbows behind your body and parallel to your body for one second before returning to the starting position.
Seated row is an easier back exercise to get started with. If you can’t feel your back muscles firing in the first few movements, or if your lower back is sore before your back, you can start with seated rowing.
(1) Hold the grip with both hands, put your feet on the pedals, and bend your knees slightly without locking them.
(2) Lift your chest, tighten your back muscles backwards, and keep your eyes looking down without deliberately raising your head.
(3) Focus on the back muscles and pull back toward the navel in a controlled manner.
(4) After releasing your hands, retract your shoulder blades and repeat the movement.