T Nation

Bent-Over Row?

Hey all

So I recently added bent-over rows to my routine, 3 weeks ago. The thing is that noone in my gym does them, including the big guys, so I have really partial info on the positionning and execution. I’ve checked youtube videos, NSCA videos, magazines and some posts over here on T-Nation.

There seems to be 2 main techniques for BOR’s, one where your knees are flexed about 90 degrees, and your back is parallel to the floor, and another where your knees are only slightly bent and you lean forward about 45 degrees. I’ve tried both, the first version seems to hit my back better, but stress my lower back more, which I tend to avoid because I perform 6 sets of DL’s right after. The second version is easy on the erectors, but I don’t feel it nearly as much in my middle traps/rhomboïds/lats.

To all you Row-Masters out there, what’s the best/safest positionning for this exercice?

Thanks!

I do your option 1. I get into a (kind of a little higher) deadlift starting position so that my arms are extended and the bar is directly below my chest. I arc my lower back a touch because having a rounded lower back is what makes it prone to injury, then I pull straight back from that position and slightly adjust my legs so the weight doesnt hit the ground.

I just started these and what I do is place my feet a bit wider than shoulder width and out a bit. I bend my knees a bit and make my back as parallel to the ground as I can while keeping it straight. I pick up the bar with a shoulder width grip and do the rows with my knees just a tiny bit bent to prevent all the weight from bouncing on my lower back tendons.

I also like using a palms away from me grip.

I see. You guys are doing it pretty similar to me, except I bend my knees quite a bit more. I feel that when I’m parallel to the floor and my knees aren’t bent I really destroy my lower back and it’s not comfortable at all. Am I doing something wrong bending my knees so much?

As an example, here’s the version 2 I mentionned, the one that simply doesn’t work my middle back nearly as much. Looking at that vid, It looks more like he’s training his upper traps…

I do it more like in the second link, but my legs are spread wider and they are definately bent a little more. My arms are also much wider… almost as wide as my elbows when extended. I feel it more on my back when I do it that way. If I’m too narrow, I feel too much arm involvement.

I agree Ivan, I also position my feet and hands wider than the girl in the vid. I actually perform the more with a reverse-grip… It’s more the knees/back angle that I need help with.

One problem you have might be excessive spinal flexion due to a weak posterior chain. (Look at someone’s lower back on a SPIN bike and you will see what I mean.) It is very common and points out another aspect of training that many people sorely neglect. That, as well as overly tight gluteus and hamstrings can exacerbate the tight feeling in you lower back.

BOR’s are a horizontal pulling exercise even though you address the bar from a vertical perspective. If you look at the postural alignment you have when you are doing seated cable rows, in full flexion, (eyes forward chest up, scapula retracted etc) you will have a better idea of what the ideal position would look like. There are variances but these are compensatory due to limited range of motion, injury, flexibility, postural, or muscular imbalances.

You might want to focus on some very strict, low weight warm-up sets that target your form. As you add weight you will see where the weak link is. Since I have specifically targeted my P-Chain as my weakest link and began working on it �?? this exercise has become much less of a pain.

Thanks RWElder, when you talk about the posterior chain, does that only include the lower back muscles or also the hip/hamstrings? Because I actually have good positionning on deadlifts (or so I’m told) and can lift fairly heavy, never had too much lower back pain either (aside from normal DOMS).

All in all, you recommend the form from the second link I posted right? I think I’m gonna be doing some more light warm ups before rowing, make sure I avoid injuries.

TY all for your time

If you do have good DL form and are pretty strong in the lift you are more than halfway there. The last piece sounds like your spinal erectors need some additional focus as well as some stabilizers in your trunk/core. Good Mornings are an excellent exercise but do pay special attention to form as the first thing to happen is . . . . . . Excessive spinal flexion under heavy load! Weighted core work like the exercises mentioned in the e-book Combat Core will help you stabilize your spine under torque which is essentially what you are doing lifting heavy loads while you are bent over without the assistance of your legs.

While momentum shouldn’t play a role in this exercise remember that exercise studies that monitor electrical/movement patterns in the body show this exercises initial movement is fired in the calves. Go figure. In the paper it was the foundation for total body training with compound lifts rather than attempting to isolate any particular area based on our visual understanding/perception of the exercise.

And that’s one to grow on. . . . . Happy lifting

For some reason apostrophes get jacked up when I type them. That is where those bizarre shapes are coming from.

That’s some solid advice, thanks man. I’ll be keeping the same form but working on the spinal erectors and working some more light sets.

About Combat core, how good is it? I almost bought it but didn’t have any feedback.

Thanks again

Personally I like the book as a reference for variation. I am also lazy and got tired of looking up websites for new ways to hit my core. It is a little pricy and granted you may not have the space to do some exercises but it is a good reference.

The detail and anatomy diagrams in the book are done VERY well. Anatomy Visualization works very well for me and I think it is one of the better books in that regard.

If you have 50 bucks to spend buy it. If it is between that and getting something to eat - keep trying to find the end of the internet.

Haha :stuck_out_tongue: I’d rather eat while reading it ! Thanks for your input, I’m most likely gonna buy it, along with Thibaudeau’s Black book of training secrets. (this one’s not an e-book tho)

[quote]Kataklysm wrote:
I see. You guys are doing it pretty similar to me, except I bend my knees quite a bit more. I feel that when I’m parallel to the floor and my knees aren’t bent I really destroy my lower back and it’s not comfortable at all. Am I doing something wrong bending my knees so much? [/quote]

No, your hamstrings are directly connected to your lower back and if you don`t bend your legs it will be your lower back that will take the stress.

I can’t give you as much info as all the posters above, but personally I row with my torso parralel to the floor. That way, it’s easy to tell when I’m cheating, whereas if my body was at an angle it’d be more difficult to monitor.

“Row it, don’t throw it!”

Be sure to keep your back as parallel to the ground as possible to minimize stress on the lower back. Imagine you’re lifting the weight with your elbows, not your hands. DO NOT LET YOUR LOWER BACK ROUND.
Keep your elbows slightly bent at all times. If you unlock the arms at the elbow, then your initial pull on the weights will be with the brachioradialis and biceps muscles, negating the all-important pre-stretch of the targeted latissimus.

Using a reverse grip for rows just exacerbates this problem, and indeed, this is exactly how Dorian tore his biceps. The plane and range of motion of the 45-degree row, combined with unlocking the elbows with a reverse grip, was too much for the biceps in that plane and range of motion with that load.

or


GOOD LUCK…

I do them all the time both with BB and DB

the db I place one knee on a bench and keep my back at as close to 90 degrees as I can

with the standing rows I also try to keep bent at about 90 degrees and I put my chest up to arch my back
I have a flexability issue in my hips so I bend my knees and I dont get to 90* often but I try to stay as straight as possible.

think about it like making a table with your back if you were on all fours.
if that makes sense

I also have a hard time getting to 90 degrees on pendley rows, so would my problem also be with the hip flexibility?

[quote]inthego wrote:
“Row it, don’t throw it!”

Be sure to keep your back as parallel to the ground as possible to minimize stress on the lower back. Imagine you’re lifting the weight with your elbows, not your hands. DO NOT LET YOUR LOWER BACK ROUND.
Keep your elbows slightly bent at all times. If you unlock the arms at the elbow, then your initial pull on the weights will be with the brachioradialis and biceps muscles, negating the all-important pre-stretch of the targeted latissimus.

Using a reverse grip for rows just exacerbates this problem, and indeed, this is exactly how Dorian tore his biceps. The plane and range of motion of the 45-degree row, combined with unlocking the elbows with a reverse grip, was too much for the biceps in that plane and range of motion with that load.

or


GOOD LUCK…
[/quote]
Great article there, thanks.