T Nation

Curls Before Rows


Following a 6 day, push/legs/pull split.

Currently, I could be happier with my bicep and back development. One of the more experienced lifters at my gym (40+ years!) has informed me that I'm using "too much fucking arm" on my rowing movements. I've been sticking with the traditional compound movements before isolation work agenda; however, after putting on my thinking cap I was wondering if it might not be a bad idea to train my bis first in the workout before rowing.

I figure this would kill two birds with one stone as I'd be fresh and more focused on my bi movements, while having my arms drained for all pulling movements forcing me to use my back a whole lot more.

Are any of you doing this with success? Or is there some faulty logic in my thinking here?


I think doing heavy curls before heavy rows is asking for an injury. If you are using too much fucking arm in your rows try cable rows with a thumbless and grip pull from your lats.

to improve your arms maybe train them twice a week After rows try to go heavy maybe a 6-8 max. and try hammer curls to change it up this has bulked up my lower biceps making it more full.


Can you elaborate on "asking for an injury?"


Definitely agree with the thumbless grip.

I close my eyes when i do rows and pretend im doing a "back flex pose". The imagery really forces me to flex my back up, which increases your mind muscle connection...which is crucial for back development.

Also, unless your gifted your back will take a long time to get thick and "mountainous".


Just me I worry about tearing a muscle or getting elbow tendinitis


Start strapping up more and find some movements that you don't pull the biceps in on.


If you start with curling 90lb dumbells I'm sure prof x would approve.


chin-ups (hands facing you) = more bicep
pull-ups (hands facing away) = less bicep, more back

that translates to the horizontal plane as well. adopting a grip that makes it harder for you to use your biceps could be helpful (if you aren't doing this already)

also focusing on contracting your lats hard with the movement


I think I can see the reason behind ur thought, however, I do not agree with it.

Work on mmc.....

As far as biceps go, I know it may sound crazy but for biceps and tris I've done mentzers high intensity training. The 4 second eccentrics and concentrics really had my arms swollen. With all the pressing and pulling I was doing at the time it worked great.
Id do a warmup set of band curls( palms up and curl in toward the body) 8 reps with the 4 second tempo.
I usually superset with triceps but I will leave that out.
1 set of hammercurls following the abdominal line, same tempo with 8 reps
1 set of preacher curls any angle ( I prefer elbows out, wrist in) 10 reps same tempo.

I used it for about 4 weeks then switched 2 a higher volume approach.

Just saying.....


x2 w/ K Man. I've been guilty of cheating too much on rows, but the best back growth I've had comes from feeling the weight by really flexing that shit. If you MAKE SURE that you're flexing your back, then you're gonna stimulate it. I get the weight up in a controlled manner, flex/flare the lats, and lower the bar slowly on the way down.


I also noticed in your pics that you look to be 'upper back dominant.' I think you would benefit from lat specific movements. When you do BB Rows do you tend to pull your scapulae together? If so, you may be doing them w/ an upper back focus?


Are u growing? If so who cares. Was it just on one exercise or the whole back day? If it's just one exercise, replace it and move on. If it's the whole back day, drop your weight till u get to where you can squeeze the fuck out of the muscle contraction, hold for three seconds rinse and repeat.

Pre exhausts I only use for legs bro. I stay away from using this method on small muscle groups. I have seen way to many people tendons,ligaments,and muscles snap. My 2 cents.


How about using straps for all ur working sets for rows


A lot of people have trouble getting their back muscles to row the weight because they can't get around the 'point A to point B' approach. What did it for me was when I started thinking of BB rows as doing a SHRUG albeit in a different spatial plane. This made me absolutely eliminate any bicep contraction.

Also ensuring that I was indeed pulling the bar into my waist with each rep, and not aiming for my chest like I see some guys do, which will always affect bicep involvement.




I someone says "You're using too much arm", it sounds like a form problem or MMC or both. Hard for anyone here to really know without a vid.

When I start my back exercises my first w/u sets are slowish and deliberate so that I actually feel my lats contract and hold to initiate that MMC. I never thought of it the way stu describes it but that's exactly what I do (and great way to describe it).

And from an actual "rowing" (like a shell on the water) perspective that's how you're trained: leg drive, hip-lowerback-upperback/shoulders, arms, release. You're arms/hands are just hooks to attach to the weight, they shouldn't be doing 'the work' on a 'back exercise'.

As far as biceps before back asking for injury, I don't know. I do my biceps before back on one of my two back days. I find that I end up taking biceps out of the movement more and I don't turn my back exercises into biceps exercises.


Getting a tan might help.

Wait, wha?

On a more serious note, what Stu said is exactly what I was going to say. Pull to your navel, and really focus on the back muscles that you are hitting/flexing.

Going one or two sessions at a lighter weight to really nail the movement and the feeling is something I would definitely advocate, as it will be highly beneficial in the long run.


about training bis before back,it could sound crazy as biceps is the weakest ring of pulling chain but if I remember well a study on EMG about pre-exhaust protocol it said that (for example,training chest) on second compound excercise tris were stimulated more as pecs were already toasted from isolation movement.
so if we tosted bis before back it csauses back working more?


When I was younger and having trouble using my lats on back exercises, I found chest supported rows to be a good teaching tool to learn to "pull from the elbows". Also, don't be afraid to limit ROM a bit so that your arms don't fully extend on the eccentric or fully contract on the concentric. The goal is to get the lats to contract and stretch, not the biceps.


Pre-exhaust back with is movements first..

Or just use less weight....WHen I start struggling I become very bicep dominant and lose focus on my back....decreasing the load prevents this so I can still get a good full contraction...

Pre-exhaustion also helps me feel the muscle better because it's got a nice pump going into compounds.


As CT said once, don't fully extend your arm, keep it slightly bent at the end of the eccentric movement.

I seem to feel my lats most doing a standing row to my navel, cable set at navel height with a rope attachment. As CT and ProfX were doing on the training lab video.