T Nation

Barbell Row Technique


With heavy barbell rows, is it acceptable to use a slight 'kick' at the beginning portion of the rep to initiate the movement? I'm not talking about a massive amount of Body-English, but a still a definite bit of extra motion, to get the bar moving? Or does this detract from the effectiveness of the exercise?

I'm not going so heavy as to be unable to get a full contraction at the top of the rep, but going heavy enough to require each rep to need a bit of momentum to get going.



I'd wager it's a safe bet that 99% of the people who say they don't jerk the weight up still use a slight dip to get the weight reversed at the bottom of the ROM. Sure we try to eliminate it for the sake of moving the load through pure muscular stress, but come on, based on the angle your torso is tilted at it's pretty much impossible not to have some small carryover momentum at the onset of each rep. Just focus on lifting with your actual muscles, and not just moving from Point A to Point B and I'm sure you're fine.



Shouldn't matter too much, as you will be able to do slightly more weight than if you were using super-strict form

It's kind of the same thing as overhead press vs push press. The leg drive in push press allows you to do more weight, but isn't isolating the shoulders as much as OHP does.


Maintain arch in lower back and you'll be fine


I always use a bit of hip momentum on the heavier sets. Provided you're keeping tension on the target area, it really doesn't matter too much. If you get a good back pump going, you can bet your back is getting the benefits.

To be perfectly honest that exercise isn't easy to make progress on if you're not using a bit of hip drive.


I found that since I starting using straps with BB rows I'm able to row heavier but still feel it/get a decent contraction when using body english. I don't really like strict rows but I'm sure they have their place as a fully isolated movement


Me personally, I would try to not use too much jerk on movements that involve the back.


It's mostly about the squeeze. That's how you work your rhomboids, biceps, brachialis, and middle traps. So in other words, most of the time, body english should be out of the question on bent rows. Body english always leads to a cheaters dip at the top to feel the muscles squeeze, while technically they aren't squeezing much more than your bodyweight. Body english is for high pulls. If your wrists can't handle it, use straps. . .




I have been doing barbell rows, and to be honest, like my other back exercises, I dont really feel a burn in my lats or upper back... Should I do dumbell rows instead?


Thats your brain's fault, not the equipment's.


And you speak from your vast personal experience in building an enormous back on yourself? Come on now. Just because the guy next to you is rowing more than you doesn't mean you need to get butt-hurt and tell everyone "Body english is the devil!" to assuage your ego.


To a certain degree, this. But why not just do them strict sometimes, and with some body english other times? Not that hard...you don't have to ALWAYS do them one way or the other. I alternate styles...and it seems to have worked pretty well for me thus far.


hungry, I noticed you usually in vids etc have a 'looser' form, and IMO your back is your strong point. Fair play if you alternate 'styles'.

Anyone truly interested in the mechanics of back training: listen to Dorian Yates' thoughts on the matter - topics like arch in low back, squeeze at the top, the best way to target lats with rows and more, he is quite a thinker and his back development speaks for itself.