T Nation

Barbell Row Question


Hi, Iâ??m a total newbie. As such, I can admit that I know next to nothing about training, but something happened today in which I could use your help.

I came to TMuscle/T-Nation via the Velocity Diet. It worked fantastic for me. Iâ??ve been off the program for a few weeks now, and so I started a new training program. I sat down, read as much on here as I could, consulted my doctor, consulted my buddies who are bodybuilders, etc. I then came up with a basic programâ??approved by everyone.

Today, I was doing bent-over barbell rows, which is a part of the VDiet training program for beginners. I thought that it was safe and effective for someone of my level to do. Then a guy in a Hardcore shirt who was moving some serious iron came up to me and said that newbies shouldnâ??t do the bent-over barbell row. He said that it worked â??secondary musclesâ?? and could damage my back.

My question to you: Is this true? Should I be doing some other rowing work, like the machine row or something else? I canâ??t imagine that guys like Coach Waterbury would have newbies doing something that was too advanced for them. What have been your experiences?

I ask because I have had back problems in the past, and I really want to avoid another round of problems. My program usually includes some set of core work to stave off injury. I also choose to do free weights like barbells and dumbbells to for the REASON TO increase my core strength.


A hardcore T-Shirt means sweet fuck all. If he was shifting an impressive weight, well, fair play to him but he's totally wrong with this.

The bent over row is a very effective back strength builder. Unless you are experiancing pain when or directly after rowing where you hurt your back I wouldn't worry about it.
You say the V-Diet had you doing the BOR? Did it give you any problems then?

This guy sounds like an idiot. I've also had fairly big guys come up to me and give me totally shit advice. It's a wonder how any of them got any size or strength in the first place.


Yeah, the hardcore shirt gave him less credibility to me. He did look like he knew what he was doing, though. That's why I was willing to listen to the advice on form. Some people are born with good genes for strength-- but I will have to fight for every ounce of muscle.

I hurt my back moving equipment years ago. Once a back injury, always a back injury. That's why I wanted to get feed back on the value of the bent-over barbell row from many sources. I want a strong back.

The bent-over row didn't give me any pain during the V-Diet, but it was a killer of an exercise for me. It wore me out each time I did it, and I hated doing them. Taking from philosophy of "do what you hate (when training)-- because that's where you need work" I put them in the program. I do them first on back/bicep day.


I second the effectiveness of the BOR. If you do a BOR without a straight back, you stand to injure your back. This might be what the guy in the OP's gym was referring to. However, when done with good form, I see a very low risk of injury coupled with high reward. I'd recommend keeping them.


Im not a big fan of a bent over row, especially for a beginner. Usually a beginner will not have the strength to hold a good bent over row position with a challenging weight while performing 8-12 good reps. It just doesnt seem like the right thing to do. Look at the muscles worked on a bent over row. Lower Back, Hamstrings, Upper back. A decent amount of flexibility is also required so if you cant comfortably maintain a flat back due to fatigue or inflexibility, its really not a good exercise to do.

I would rather work on the lower back and hamstrings with conventional deadlifts, then use seated cable rows, one arm rows or inverted rows to build the pulling muscles.

Not a good place for an entry level weightlifter to start, too hard if not impossible for many.


I recently switched my BOR'd to the style recommended by Mark Rippetoe in SS. I.E. Each rep starting from the floor.
I found this took much tension off my lower back and made the rows much easier overall.


[quote]Shadowzz4 wrote:
Im not a big fan of a bent over row, especially for a beginner. Usually a beginner will not have the strength to hold a good bent over row position with a challenging weight while performing 8-12 good reps. /quote]

Thats how it was for me when I first started doing BORs. I had to stop each set due to lower back fatigue. Whenever i went heavy i had to stop because of my lower back, even though i knew i could have banged out a couple more reps. Several rack pulls later, i was able to add over 50lbs to my BORs.


I think they're a valuable exercise, but I wouldn't advise someone to do them unless they've shown they can do things like good mornings or romanian deadlifts with good form.


Plenty of discussion (and some bitching and whining from small guys) in this thread.