T Nation

Bent Over Rows - Rounded Back?


Before any of you cranky old guys start complaining about less worrying and more training .Im asking this out of curiosity..

Anyways has anyone else seen that video of Arnold in pumping where he does his BB Row with a rounded back? I was wondering how he didn't get injured doing this and are there any benifits? I also saw a video of Mike Mentzer doing it like that as well. Pretty weird.


Post the video and we'll comment. Just keep in mind, rounding the shoulders and bending the back are two different things. I know Arnold was prone to allowing the shoulders to "round" but it should be thought of more as scapular relaxation; that results in good lat activity. Rounding the back in either the thoracic region or lumber region is probably a poor idea, especially for beginners. In my experience, the best placement has come from placing the bar on the floor, grap the bar from the floor and deadlift it, then bend at the knees and hips until the bar is just past the patella, still maintaining a tight/arched spine. From there, pull with the elbows and think about bringing your chest to the bar in order to properly activate the mid/low traps and lats, maintaining your torso position.


I can't find the video exactly right now but im sure you've guys seen it. He's doing Barbell Rows on what looks like a piece of wood block.

Regardless I do most of BB Rows in a Pendlay Row kind of way.


Arnold always use perfect form


I also saw Arnold use less-than-squeaky-clean form with regards to low back in videos and pictures.

But (this is important) we are not Arnold. The guy was an outlier, not a typical case at all. MAYBE cable rows from a seated position could be experimented with to round the (thoracic) back and get better lat activation in the movement (I think Dorian has written about this if I recall?)

But in my experience free weight rows, deads, squats/whatever mustn't be done with a rounded back. Try it. If you get injured, you'll have your answer.


Arnold did many things that would today be considered 'wrong'. You have to realize as was said above, that you are not Arnold. The guy had amazing genetics, and was on a boat-load of PEDs since he was in his early teens. I'm sure we've all known 'that guy', you know, the one who trains poorly, eats horribly, and still sports more muscle than you do.

Worrying about him won't help your progress at all. As far as the exercise, while rounding your back may indeed provide some degree of stretch, I can't imagine getting a full contraction in the muscles without some sort of slight arch at the contraction point.



Arnold can and did whatever the fuck he wanted to


Arnold believed in getting a full stretch and full contraction on every exercise... and I mean FULL stretch. He stood on a wood block and stretched his entire upper back at the bottom of every rep of barbell rows (and T-bar rows, and cable rows), and then straightened his back while bringing the bar all the way up.

FFW to 0:19

You can see that his lower back actually remains fairly stable, while his middle and upper back round down to the bottom.

Many bodybuilders do the same. Here is Serge Nubret doing cable rows:

Mike Quinn did his cable rows like this (if not more stretched).

Lee Haney, Franco Columbu, and Dave Draper all did their barbell rows off a block the way Arnold did, and their backs are legendary.

It also needs to be said that Arnold did not succeed just because "he's special, cuz he's Arnold, so anything he does is magic or drugs, arnold arnold arnold". He was innovative in a lot of ways, out-trained his competitors, and there is a lot to be learned from the guy who has stood the test of time and remained the most aesthetic and awesome bodybuilder of the last 4 decades.


Rounding the back is bad.

It leads to cheating on your wife with the maid (and getting her pregnant), contributes to lowering a guilty man's sentence, and it increases the possibility of bankrupting Kaleefawnia.





Nice. "I think this whole thing is fucked..."


As a rule of thumb, don't allow your spine to round while lifting. But sometimes, it's gonna happen, if you train with ANY type of intensity, and actually train your back. Done from time to time, it probably won't kill you. But do try to avoid it. And if you ignore this advice and end up with a spine injury, don't go crying "But...but...but ARNOLD did it!" like you didn't know better.