T Nation

Bent Over Rows


Hey everyone. For the most part, I do bent over rows with my torso close to parallel to the ground and bring the bar to my lower pecs. However, everytime I see someone else do then or look them up online, the torso is at about a forty-five degree angle and the bar is being brought to -- roughly -- the belly button. Is there a difference between the two? Am I doing them incorrectly, or just doing another variation?



The closer to parralel the more the lats are activated. The closer to vertical the traps are used more.

I usually do them about 45 degrees, but it's not wrong to do them other ways, it just depends on your goals.


I agree with the above. Pronated grip tends to work more of the upper traps than a supinated grip.

However, I personally have never really like leaning over until I was parallel with the floor. To do bent over rows with any decent weight, your lower back will simply not be able to sustain the load in the weak position. I would suggest finding a position that feels comfortable for you where it doesn't feel like it's entirely a lower back exercise.



There are two main versions of the Bent Over Row - 45 degree Bent Over Row and 90 degree Bent Over Row.

45 degree can be either supinated or pronated, supinated places more emphasis on the biceps. It is significantly easier than the 90 degree, after getting used to this exercise you should be able to do the same weight and reps that you would do on the bench press. This exercise emphasizes the lats, teres major, biceps, rhomboids, some middle and upper traps but not that much as was stated earlier. Some rear delts but not that much emphasis on them either.

The 90 degree Bent Over Row is a much harder version. This is done with a wider grip, almost always pronated. You want to flare your elbows out as your row, basically like doing a bench press facing the floor. The bar should hit your lower chest, on the 45 degree it should hit your belly button or the waistline of your shorts. This hits the lats and teres major, rhomboids and middle traps, the rear delts and since it is pronated more brachialis and brachioradialis. The pronated wide grip puts more emphasis on the upper middle back (rear delts, middle traps, rhomboids) while a supinated narrow grip places more emphasis on the lats and biceps. The 90 degree also places much more stress on the lower back, for that reason (and just because it is harder) some people don't like it, but both are great exercises. Similar to comparing a chin-up (with a short range of motion) and a widegrip T-bar row.

Hope that clears it up for you.


Good advice above.

Rowing (bent over, cable, t-bar, etc.) is a movement that can work any part of your back, depending on apparatus, grip, posture, movement, etc. etc. Just experiment until you're hitting the desired targets, and be sure to do a variety that will incorporate all the muscles.


sorry to hijack the thread...but since that question was already answered...i prefer to do dumbbells with most exercises aside from squats and deadlifts. would bent over dumbbell rows be a bad idea? (not 1-arm rows or rows on a bench). Would this not build as much mass as the barbell row? thanks


I actually thought it was the opposite,where the 45 degree angle hits more lats and less traps. I guess that would explain why my traps have been looking bigger!


why stress the lower back doing those when you can do seated cable rows or chest supported rows?


While I agree to most of what has been posted here the main reason you see people doing them at a 45 degree angle is because Flex printed pics of Dorian Yates doing them that way the bent over row was changed forever.

There is no rhyme or reason behind most peoples training they just copy what they see sometimes they get it right sometimes they don't.

Not that the various angles and such don't have any science behind them they do, but on the issue of the Bent over row you could literally see a shift happen over night after the first pics and articles about Dorians Back routine came out.


For myself and some others its simply a lack of equipment.


Um, to make your lower back stronger? The Bentover Row position is essentially an isometric Stiff-legged deadlift.

If you properly stick your ass out with slightly bent knees, the stress is minimal unless you've been neglecting big movements like the deadlift & squat.


To hit my entire posterior chain. Given the stresses of deadlifting, my lower back doesn't gripe at all when I bent-over row.


Before anyone goes on -- if anyone chooses to post anything else -- let me just say thanks to everyone who gave me some advice. I'll be sure to experiment with different positioning knowing what I now know. Thanks again.


I do em both ways, at 45? and parallel to the floor. Get the benefits of both.
I do em with a barbell, butt reaching back and knees slightly bent=no lower back stress.


Earlier in my training career, I did the bent over row at the parallel to floor and 45 degree angles. I did them very strictly, and my back never really improved that much.

Then I did them Dorian Yates style at which keeps your back closer to upright than bent over. Back thickness explosion for me after this was done.

I think different peoples' structure dictates what angle works best for them. In my case, the "less parallel" method and bone crushing weight was the ticket for me.

Oh, and I alternate pronated and supinated grips on different training days.


You are spot on with those comments. And I remember about the time that article hit the news stands.

Strange how that works huh?