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Best Rowing Exercise to Gain Strength On?


I got another month or so before I can start training again (shoulder recovery) and I'm trying to make up a routine that will let me gain lots of strength on these lifts:

bench press, military press, lat pulldown, , squat, deadlift.

I'm just a bit mixed up on what rowing exercise to use that will be best for my shoulder & enable me to keep adding weight to the bar every week.

With seated row on a cable pulley I have trouble contracting my back evenly, and with bent over barbell row I seem to get 'stuck' at a certain weight because my form breaks down so easily on it.

So do you guys have any suggestions or personal preferences on a back exercise that i could focus on?


I'd recommend DB rows, if your gym has DB's that are heavy enough. It's easy to make sure you hit a full range of motion and lets you use each arm separately, plus if you stick a hand (and possibly also a knee) on a flat bench you can get nice and tight to make sure you get the most out of the lift.


I really like Pendlay Rows for hitting my back, and have also started to use Ghetto T-Bar Rows a lot lately as well. For the T-Bar Rows, just stick an Oly Bar in the corner of a room, or under a heavy dumbell, load up one end with plates, and hook a close grip handle under the end with the plates. Straddle the bar, and row it up to your chest.

A little form breakdown on BOR's or Pendlay's isn't going to hurt you. As a matter of fact, if you are doing BOR's super strict, you probably not going to get much stronger with them.

When they get difficult, throw a little body english in there. If you look at most of the big guys who do them, they aren't using textbook form, and there's probably a good reason for that.


T-Bars, my personal favorite.


No rowing exercise beats bent over rows,if u can do them correctly.There are a lot of variations, but the the ones i like are: pronated wide grip to upper abs,underhand(supinated) to lower abs, and pronated to upper chest(to hit rear delts and rhomboids).

Your form will improve as you get used to the exercise.Start light, then pile on the weight when you feel ready.

Also if you have shoulder problems, focusing on pulling and rowing will really help you out man.good luck.


I am trying but my main issue is i have an extremely hard time contracting my back muscles evenly.

I will probs stick with DB rows then do a couple sets of bent over bb rows afterwards to see if im starting to get an even contraction.


Another thing, do you guys think dumbbell bench & dumbbell military press will be better than the barbell versions if im coming back from shoulder issues?


He will have real issues maintaining form and piling on weight with barbell bent-over rows if he gets strong enough. Obviously the underhand grip will be severely limited by grip strength and endurance, the wide grip to upper abs will be limited by his core and back strength, and going to upper chest will make this even harder.

Plus I have never seen anyone perform a barbell row to upper chest with a decent amount of weight, or without massively compromising form.

DB Rows are a good choice and are easier to progress on. T-Bar rows are also a good choice if you want to go heavy. Aside from being easier to progress with, the DB rows also give you leeway with hand position and where you touch, and can be done when your shoulders are pretty trashed.

Regardless of what you decide, make sure you throw in a little bit of rear-delt/rotator cuff rehab exercises to keep them healthy. Some people (i.e. me) can have rear shoulder issues from weakness despite doing a large amount of chins and rows that should in theory strengthen them.


DB bench would definitely be better.
I'm kinda on the fence with the military presses though, the extra ROM from DB's might make things worse. I'm not experienced enough to recommend one or the other.


t-bar or chest supported rows


My opinion would be to do barbell with a lighter weight and slowly progress to the weight you used before your injury.You want to regain the previous strength you had on your chest and shoulders,barbell is better for that.
Dumbells are fine, but the problem is that weight progression is kind of hard on dumbells, and i find if i use them, more size than strength.You also cant do low reps(3-6) efficiently with dumbells. Start getting your shoulder used to barbell benching again,by starting with light loads(40-60%) and progress each week for 2-3 weeks, before you start implementing a low rep strength/mass program.


Yeah I was going to do light loads for a month or so, to make sure my shoulders are solid. So during that period I won't be focusing on strength so much, which is why I asked about dumbbells.


For shoulder issues, I'd go with DBs as often as possible. They've helped me out a lot.

Just stop the DBs around your chin when doing military to take the increased ROM out of play. Note that I only say to stop at the chin specifically as a good rule of thumb; you can find the best place to stop for you by playing around and seeing how far down you can go without impeding your recovery.