T Nation

Barbell Rows - Form check


Hi guys. I'm new to lifting and would appreciate it if you guys could give me some pointers and critique my form on the rows. I feel it most in the arms, barely on the back.

Edit: I use an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width.


I'm new as well, but I had this problem too and what worked for me was:

Wider grip
Light warmup sets with squeezing at the top to focus on the back, before starting the actual work sets
Tucking elbows in - flaring them hits the back of my shoulders instead of hitting the "meat" of my upper back
Simply focusing on the back throughout the entire exercise, nothing else

This might help: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/curing_imaginary_lat_syndrome


Cut the weight, hold for a 1-2 count and SQUEEZE the shoulder blades at the top, push chest out. You will find those missing muscles :slightly_smiling:


that doesn't look bad

I just see the head moving around a lot and a little upper back rounding at the top. Maybe try to concentrate more on keeping the torso tight (you've got the lower back locked in, that's good, but remember your spine goes all the way up).

As far as what muscles are being used, you could try either widening the grip (more upper back), or pulling more towards the waist (more lats - might find it is easier to to do this with an underhand grip)

Other than that, just keep trying, always concentrate on what you're doing, try to flex the muscles you are working (make sure you can flex them period lol! I think when I first started I didn't even know I had muscles in my back.)


Initiate the row by pulling your shoulders back, then drive straight up with the elbows. The way you do it now, you begin with the arms and don't get a full stretch or contraction... try to visualize the back muscles working


Stop flipping your head around and looking all over.

You need to concentrate and focus, not look around at every square inch of the gym while you row.


This is one of the few lifts I use straps for. The harder you squeeze, the more arm you'll use. Straps let you relax your grip.

Like mr popular said, start with a hard scap retraction. Then follow it with a double elbow (act like you're elbowing someone behind you as hard as you can). Then squeeze your upper back as hard as you can at the top.

Another one I've tried, if you're looking to hit more upper back, is to take a short bar and row while holding on to the plates. I hated these at first, but they set your back on FIRE. Hardly any lat activation, though, so make sure you're getting plenty of work for those.


the best form is what works best for you. what is most comfortable.


Yes and no.

I know people who DL with a rounded lumbar, and claim that it works better for them because they can lift more.


Most of the lifts that give me the best results are anything BUT comfortable.


He is reffering to whatever is most comfortable on your joints is best, not what ever is easiest. Front squats are far more comfortable for me than back, but sure as hell not easy.

I've recently started doing barbell rows as well. Since I'm such a newb I only use 105 for sets of 10-15 and a grip a bit wider than shoulder width. I feel it mostly in my rear delts but after doing 4-5 sets of 10-15 my back is pretty pumped.

Be sure to:
- keep your lower back arched
- move your shoulder blades through a full range of motion. They should be stretched at the bottom and fully contracted at the top.
- hold the bar at the top position for a 1-2 count while squeezing the hell out of your upper back. Follow the classic prompt of squeezing your scapula together and towards your back pockets. I've been doing this on all my back exercises since reading some of CTs recent articles and it has increased my ability to isolate my back on exercises. This will require a drop in weight.
- decrease the weight on the bar and stop using so much body english. Check your ego at the door.

I'll have to try using straps as Jay recommended.


Thanks for the heaps of advice guys! Today's workout had rows in it and I followed several instructions and for the first damn time I felt my lats working! What I felt worked very well for me in particular was keeping my chest up and tucking my elbows in as well as focusing pulling my shoulderblades back. Pausing for a while at the top felt good too.

Granted I hard to drop heaps of weight to accomodate the stricter form, but at least I'm working it right.


OP, did you try widening your grip? Doing so will make your arms' range of motion much less, but keep your back's range of motion essentially the same, which helps recruit the back more. Aside from that, keeping chest high, stomach pushed out and ass pushed back, and for now, sticking with high-ish reps (10-20), and high volume (5-10 working sets), is what will really help you get better at FEELING your back doing the work. Your arms will ALWAYS do some of the work, obviously, but it's good you can recognize that they're doing too much of it right now. Keep at it man.


Bro , the most important thing in dowing bent over barbell row is , u have to keep ur body stable and dont move ur neck , ur Lumbar , thorasic and cervical all these should be in neutral position, and i think lifting should be done more in controlled manner .


Yeap, I widened my grip, though it felt like there was less ROM, but I'm sure my back worked more.

I'll try bumping up the reps and see how it works. Thanks :slight_smile:


Haha yeah. I've learned to stop moving so damn much and just concentrating on the muscles :slight_smile: