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Good Alternative to Pendlay Rows?


What do you guys think of these? I was thinking of doing them to really target my upper back, the movement looks very similar to a pendlay row. Tried em the other day and they felt good. Thanks.


Maybe as a third or fourth movement if you are doing a regular back day... But really... Do you want that kind of pressure on your chest/collar bones/ribs? I mean, try that with 3pps and upwards... That's got to be utter hell... If you want to train scap retraction heavy, learn how to do it with regular rows, heavy face pulls with a wide neutral grip (or so) in the lat pulldown station, weighted wide-ish grip pulldowns (if your shoulders don't mind and if you can get these down without using too much arm strength), kroc rows and so on (or pendlay's, but those require serious flexibility/mobility and depending on limb lengths/torso length and so on you may simple not be able to do them at all)...

Pendlay's are more of a primary movement by comparison... (If you can do them safely)


It also looks like literally all the weight is on his torso/chest, as his legs don't support him much if at all... Big difference between this and a standing row where your feet are where you meet the ground and where most of the pressure ends up on them, not on your rib cage.


Hmmm I see what you mean, maybe not ideal. I'm just struggling to find a decent upper back movement and really don't find pendlay rows comfortable. So far my back routine consists of:

Pull up
Cg pulldown
BB Row
upper back
Cable row (v handle)

So could you reccomebd a decent upper back exercise to place after BB rows? Also, how does the rest look?


Your current routine could be all lat/arms (minus deadlifts) or mostly lats plus some upper back stimulation depending on your rowing/pull-up technique...

First step is, as I mentioned before, to learn how to move your scapulae consciously... For that, do band-pull-aparts with arms straight, and/or get into rowing position and then, while keeping your arms straight, do what is basically a shrug your shoulders up towards the ceiling (not towards your ears, that would be forward in the position you're in now, i.e. bent over) and back (towards your ass).

Do that for a bit, then add the arm bending part again... Retract move shoulder blades together and down on the positive of each rowing rep, then release them again on the negative.
Doing this with lighter weight and a reverse grip (yates original style) may make it easier to get the mind-muscle connection at first...

There are other things you can do to learn it too... If you know how to set up properly for bench pressing, you should already be familiar with how to make your shoulder blades move... And that is basically what upper back training is about. If you don't get this part down, you'll be loading your arms and lats and whatever more than your upper back muscles.
You can retract your shoulder blades at the end of a close-grip (V) cable row as well.

Now once you have that down, just do it on your rowing movements... As I mentioned in my other posts, specific movements for this area would be Face Pulls done Mike Wolfe -style (google Mike Wolfe face pulls, then look at the "loses 76 lbs" article, about 3/4ths or 4/5ths down), those allow for a good amount of weight as well, any kind of wide grip row...

Weighted pull-Ups with chest way up and elbows flared work as well, but here it is hard to get the proper technique down and your shoulders may not like them... Wide grip cable rows... Cable rows with two cables and two handles where you pull your elbows outwards... Hammerstrength back machines tend to work well, high rows, low rows(if you get the technique right), and so on...

Krocs work really well, but again technique is hard to get down (most would end up pulling with their arms too much, and the more of the work your arms and whatever other muscle groups do, the less is done by the target area...).

/edited, hope it gets through


I do something similar to these, only I don't drop the weight and I use an incline bench. The incline takes some of the weight off your chest and allows you to load up your legs.


What about kelso shrugs?
Lie on a (slight) incline bench, press your feet into the ground and shrug the bar to your chest.


Hey CC! not to hijack but since ive caught you in a recent thread (especially one on back movements) do you have any tips for dante's long cable row? ive been messing around with it trying to find the sweet spot.


Barring some kind of lower back injury, why are you not just standing on the floor or on top of a box and doing full ROM barbell rows?

In my experience the best thing you can do for your upper back is a freeweight row, and if those aren't doing it for you (and you haven't reached some advanced level of development already) then you should probably be asking how you can do them properly.

I wouldn't find a "pendlay row" comfortable either... leaving the bar on the ground between each rep? How would you ever get a proper stretch in the muscles? My lower back would hate the constant jump-starting from that sort of thing as well.


I really must try face-pulls like that, not the first time you've mentioned them and traditional are at a point where the weight is difficult to keep balance etc.


CC - I already have the scap retraction down on my other rowing movements I just didn't realise it brought the upper back into play that much. I was just looking for a more upper back specific movement to put in there so I may start doing my cable rows with a wide grip although last time I tried them I wasnt really a fan, do you think the v handle grip will be sufficient?

Also, I've heard you mention those facepulls in a shoulder thread and I actually do them on shoulder day just like you describe - leaning back in the lat pull down with a neutral grip (not wide but just outside shoulder width, that's the closest my gym has). Do you think i should maybe move these to back day?

Thanks for your help so far buddy.


That's what the upper back does :wink:

CC mentioned it, but I'd like to second kroc rows. They allow you to pull "in the right direction", let you use crazy weight for crazy reps. Good luck man!


For upper back development i have found kroc rows to be good for putting alot of meat on the rear delt, teres minor, rhomboid areas. and for the upper middle back - seat cable rows with the traditional wide lat pulldown bar.


I was doing it to take stress off of my lower back while I was deadlifting and back squatting frequently.


i like the way his face bounces off the bench on every rep. looks like fun.


You could do dead-stop dumbbell rows instead of pendlays. Although they're not done with a barbell, I think they're a great movement for overall upper back development, similar to a Kroc row, except a little tougher.


Start each rep with scapular retraction (you can also add in external rotation for extra rehab work) like in this video: