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Pendlay Row v Barbell Row, Mid Back Recruitment

This is not really a question so much as it is just something I am interested in, I started doing rows after a year of not doing them because I never felt them in my back, this may of been down to tight hips and hamstrings that did not let me get into the right position to correctly set the lift up.

I have been rotating slightly above 90 degree ( but not those almost stood up rowing to the belly rows that Yates did) barbel row with the pendlay row with my greyskull LP program and I am slightly confused about something.

I read here on TNation that the Pendlay row got the highest on the EMG tests, yet when I do them with no momentum with good solid form I just do not feel these in my back and on the odd occasion I do it is in the upper back and rear deltoids and I have no muscle soreness in my middle back.

When I do just above 90 degree barbell rows rowing and touching inbetween my chest and upper stomach I get a large pump in the very middle of my back, no lat activation, no upper back or rear delt soreness to speak of either, just a very strong pump and later DOMS in my middle back.

I have heard wildy different outcomes and I am starting to wonder how uch individual mechanics plays a role. I have seen videos for example of people doing the eact row I do and saying it hits their lats, others say it hits upper back and rear deltoids.

I have also seen videos of pro bodybuilders with enormous backs doing rows that a person on here posting a video of them would be ridiculed for or more likely, kindly advised to go learn how to row because of.

I am guessing Jy Cutlers form works for him, because he looks amazing, I am guessing Dorian Yates rows work too because he looked pretty impressive too and I guess pendlay rows work because I have seen some strong ass guys with thick backs use those rows.

But what i don’t get it why some variations won’t work for some people and other people love them. It seems odd that the human body can have such large biomechanical differences that mean one persons bad form is another persons great form.

What barbell rows do you gys feel in the middle back?

[quote]GreySkull wrote:
What barbell rows do you gys feel in the middle back?[/quote]

Chinups :wink:

But in all seriousness, the mat pulls against chains + chin combination hits my middle back really hard.

And like you found, rowing to the bottom of the sternum, top of the stomach, hits the middle back really hard for me too.

I think the bigger point is that if you want to hit your entire back… upper, middle, lower, sides (lats, teres), you need a combination of things.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]GreySkull wrote:
What barbell rows do you gys feel in the middle back?[/quote]

Chinups :wink:

But in all seriousness, the mat pulls against chains + chin combination hits my middle back really hard.

And like you found, rowing to the bottom of the sternum, top of the stomach, hits the middle back really hard for me too.

I think the bigger point is that if you want to hit your entire back… upper, middle, lower, sides (lats, teres), you need a combination of things.[/quote]

Yeah thats true, I am doing both Barbell rows and pulldowns for 3x8, one of them per session alternation. So one week I do two workouts with barbell rows and one with close grip pulldowns, the other week I do 2 days with pulldowns and 1 with barbell rows.

Personally i feel Bent over rows at a 45 degree angles, pulling the bar to your upper abs, is one of the best movements for adding mass to your back

Op, I had the same problem. I fucking hate free rows (any if the variations you mentioned) for the reasons you mentioned. My back is pretty strong, but anytime I get to a considerable amount of weight, my body English goes crazy and my lower back isn’t happy.

Although upright rows and high pulls are awesome for upper back

Currently I only do;
Low rep (2-6 reps) Heavy/weighted (bw +50-100lbs) underhand pull-ups
High volume overhand pull-ups
Moderate rep(8-20), moderate/light weight (95-185) wide grip barbell rows face down on an incline bench
High rep Rear flies face down on incline
High rep face pulls

And my back is getting big and strong

I respect free rows, but they always lead to a bunch of body english

It all depends on how you do the movements. You lats will be activated most when your elbow are tucked in hard against your sides and you shoulders are externally rotated. if you use an overhand grip, your elbows may be flaring out, activating your delt and upper traps more. an underhand grip may fix your problem.

Pendlay rows i feel are sort of advanced because a lot of beginners don’t have the feel for contracting their lats completely voluntarily without looking at them in the mirror. this is really crucial for pendlay rows because you have to completely initiate the pull with your lats or else you will probably gradually develop the habit of using a lot of body english.

Just a pointer: Pendlay rows are supposed to be done with momentum. But it has to come from your back, not your hips. Also, the higher up the chest you touch, the more upper back you get while hitting against your stomach area gives you more lat recruitment. I’ve been tinkering with P-rows a lot these past weeks and these are my observations.

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:
Pendlay rows i feel are sort of advanced because a lot of beginners don’t have the feel for contracting their lats completely voluntarily without looking at them in the mirror.
[/quote]

I didn’t think about this, but you’re actually right. However, this is also one of the reasons why I’m beginning to love this exercise: Pendlay rows force you to really contract your lats and the resetting after each rep allows you to double check your MMC. I did them yesterday and my lats are so sore that even hunching over is unpleasant :wink:

(they also produce a soreness in the lower part of my lats, just above the spinal erectors, that no other exercise apart from front levers has given me so far)

I use a combination of Power Snatches, SG High Pulls, Kroc Rows, and Chin-ups.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:
Pendlay rows i feel are sort of advanced because a lot of beginners don’t have the feel for contracting their lats completely voluntarily without looking at them in the mirror.
[/quote]

I didn’t think about this, but you’re actually right. However, this is also one of the reasons why I’m beginning to love this exercise: Pendlay rows force you to really contract your lats and the resetting after each rep allows you to double check your MMC. I did them yesterday and my lats are so sore that even hunching over is unpleasant :wink:

(they also produce a soreness in the lower part of my lats, just above the spinal erectors, that no other exercise apart from front levers has given me so far)[/quote]

They’re great if you know how to do them. The other point you brought up also highlights how advanced they are, because from what ive gathered from numerous explanations f the technique, the lift with the back is all thoracic extension, while the lumbar erectors are supposed to remain locked. Decoupling the thoracic and lumbar erectors is something that takes a lot of practice and i feel its beyond most beginners.

Its weird how the lats can actually help extend the spine, which is the point of the exercise i think

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Just a pointer: Pendlay rows are supposed to be done with momentum. But it has to come from your back, not your hips. Also, the higher up the chest you touch, the more upper back you get while hitting against your stomach area gives you more lat recruitment. I’ve been tinkering with P-rows a lot these past weeks and these are my observations.


[/quote]

While they are supposed to have some momentum, I think most people take this to the extreme when learning them. In my experience, when teaching someone or yourself to do them, trying to teach momentum only serves to have them pull themselves into a rounded back bent over high pull seizure. Quasimodo doing a high pull is the best way to describe it.

When someone is learning they need to have a small enough amount of weight on their that the bar can be pulled quickly but without momentum. Teaching them to lock in their lower back is priority number one. You want to tighten against the bar (take the slack out) then pull the scapula together as you open up the chest, this brings the bar up and starts to get them a feel for how to fire the upper back. Progress the weight slowly and by the time they get to the part where they need a little momentum they will be more than capable of applying it without going into FUBAR territory.

[quote]jbpick86 wrote:
While they are supposed to have some momentum, I think most people take this to the extreme when learning them. In my experience, when teaching someone or yourself to do them, trying to teach momentum only serves to have them pull themselves into a rounded back bent over high pull seizure. Quasimodo doing a high pull is the best way to describe it.

When someone is learning they need to have a small enough amount of weight on their that the bar can be pulled quickly but without momentum. Teaching them to lock in their lower back is priority number one. You want to tighten against the bar (take the slack out) then pull the scapula together as you open up the chest, this brings the bar up and starts to get them a feel for how to fire the upper back. Progress the weight slowly and by the time they get to the part where they need a little momentum they will be more than capable of applying it without going into FUBAR territory. [/quote]

Completely agree. I should have used velocity instead of momentum. And yes, for some odd reason some people really fuck Pendlay rows up; then again, the same goes for all big barbell exercises…