T Nation

Bent Over Rows Are Terrible

lyyyy hard.  They are terribly hard.

What are the differences between overhand and underhand grip for bent over rows and at what angle should you do them at.


They are hard, but that is why we love them, right?
Typically, with an underhand grip, you pull the bar lower, say about to the belly. This works the lats more.
With an overhand grip, you pull the bar to your chest. This will hit the upper back more, including the traps and rear delts.

As far as angle goes, I am guessing you mean how far you bend over. Well, that is up to you and your spine. I feel, the closer you bend to 90', the more the target muscles are hit, and the less your lower back gets involved. Of course, this puts more strain on the lumbar area. Mix it up, go with what feels best.

I don't much care for bent over barbell rows. It never feels right for me. I prefer dumbells or a T-bar row. Once again, mix it up, each one targets a different area.


Although this makes perfect logic I didnt know this. Hence the reason I love forums!
Thanks for that info


I use T-Bar rows instead. More lifting less thinking.


Another thing of note is you will tend to rely more on the biceps in an underhand grip than an overhand.


And overhand uses more of the brachialis, no?


But since the elbow flexors are the weak link in pulling exercises, it is probably an advantage to use an underhanded grip to make use of the stronger position for the biceps.


T-Bar rowing is the second best movement to build a great back.


Bent rows have to be one of the hardest exercises to do right and get into the groove I reckon. Funnily enough the only way I can get the feeling and groove is by going light and consequently using higher reps or a kind of rest pause system.

First time I saw the 'curl' type grip was in Dorian Yates' book 'Blood and Guts'.


Truth. I find that when my pull-ups increase, so does my rowing.


Bent-over rows tend to put lots of stress on the lower-back. Keep in mind, 'stress' in this case can mean 'workout' for some lifters' backs and 'injury' for others, so if you're having trouble doing bent-over rows because your back is giving you trouble here's some suggestions:

1.) Do some good-mornings or Romanian deadlifts. Your lower-back will get stronger, and more able to support you doing bent-over-rowing

2.) Try doing head-supported Bent-over rows. Find a bench, railing, whatever at waist-height or so, and rest your head on it when you row. You'll still need to support most of the weight with your lower-back and not your neck, as that can cause other problems.

3.) Use a rowing machine. Rowing is a movement that is actually almost better done on a machine than with freeweights. It's an awkward movement to do, as the name would indicate, you need to bend-over to get the weight in-line with gravity. (Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove say the same thing in "The New Rules of Lifting".)


Underhand activate the biceps and rear-delt more than overhand grip. You can do them at different angles but I would suggest about the same angle as an incline bench press.


Is there any reason why I shouldn't do db rows "half-kneeling" on a bench? That is, if I'm working the right side, my right leg will be on the ground, but my left arm and knee will be on the bench, trying to keep my back parallel to the floor.

This works much better for me, what with a relatively weak neck and lower back.


I used to do do a very upright (like Yates) stance BB row to the lower stomach - i really felt it in the low back though. I've recently switched to DB rows to the hip and i like them a lot. The DB row outlined in Nwe rules of lifting is also good - a big reduction in the amount of weight used normally is required due to the strict nature and mechanics of the lift.


That should work fine, you can also try the classic 3-point one-armed-row, i.e. both feet on the ground, one arm supported by a bench or whatever;

As one last suggestion, you can always simply lie face-down on the bench with your shoulders hanging off the end. Hold the bar underneath you and just pull upwards. You'll need to find a rather high bench to do this one right, but it should take almost all the stress off your back.


i got pretty strong on one arm dumbell rows, and my back developement was not that good

my lats are really growing now that i have switched to overhand barbell.


Just curious, should one be able to row as much as they bench?


i cant

i dont know if one "should"


i'd say so, but it all depends on your goals.


i love BO BB rows...i use both grips and in the post that explained where each grip hits, i didnt realise that but when i think about it, thats what i ahve been doing anyway lol

ive been doing them underhand grip lately, but might go back to over for a while...

i think i can hit more weight with an underhand grip, but the difference isnt that significant.