T Nation

Row Off Floor or Low Bar


Hi guys
As we all know, increasing bench is associated with rows. Here comes my question, when i do rows, shall i row it off the floor or off the low bar. Personally, I did both. I felt more leg involved from floor and more stress on lower back from the bar. From Riptoe's ss, it says that you should row from the floor. So I am asking for your options


There are two separate exercises:

45 Degree Barbell Row (Yates Row) - hits the lats and biceps quite well, doesn't touch the floor, easier on the lower back, easier to learn, can use more weight, easier to use body english and cheat. In my experience this should be essentially equal in strength to your bench press for good muscle balance

90 Degree Barbell Row - hits more mid back, traps, rear delts, rhomboids, touches floor every rep. Essentially looks like a bench press facing the floor. Use less weight, more stress on the lower back, in my experience this exercise carries a higher risk than the 45 degree row.

Both are great and can be used in an exercise program, it isn't a matter of right or wrong but just pros and cons of each one.


Madcow and Pendlay preferred their athletes to row from the floor as well.


yea, thats right and I tried. it seems like i use my legs more to get the weight off the floor like doing deads


So don't. Get your knees, hips, and lower back into a good position and then row without moving them. If you can't, lower the weight until you can. I understand that there is a tendency to cheat in this row form. The answer is just don't cheat.

It may be that Pendlay style rows aren't the best row for you. But you'll never know until you learn how to do them right.

One difficulty is that if you can't do 135 and don't have access to full size plates under 45 (a lot of people don't), the problem gets exacerbated by the forced increase in ROM. In this case, it may be good to start the bar on blocks or pins, but still keep the torso parallel to the ground.


Have you considered dumbbells? I've had pretty good success with Kroc rows, or just DB rows in general. I feel like I can really get my elbow behind me to hit the lats, and the grip work is an added bonus too.


Agree with this. It's a matter of discipline. Pendlay rows are essentially strict rows from the floor. Strict is up to you to enforce. I like them quite a bit.

Dumbbells are underrated. Just sayin.....


There was an exercise called "bench pull" that we used to train a lot for my sport when I was a teenager; you essentially lie on a high bench and perform a reverse bench press. It was a decent mirror of a bench press and didn't allow for body english, nor did it strain the back: http://powertool.gymaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/GA-on-BPull.jpg

I find that almost all barbell rowing variations put too much pressure on my lower back and I really miss this exercise. I think it's fairly widespread in eastern Europe, or possibly just in the sprint canoe/rowing community. Anyone else know this? What are your takes on reverse bodyweight (or weighted) rows in the power rack?


this is one is quite spread in rowing team, I ve seen them doing this one, and they all have huge lats. personally I nevre done with the barbell, but I did try with dumbbells. I felt more on my rears.


I try to mix in both versions of the rows and I do have to go a lot lighter at 90 deg than I do at 45 deg. When I do the 90s I usually pay for it the next day with a tight lower back, but I am 41 years old so I have a sore lower back most days anyway. If you do them with strict form and don't try to go too heavy you should be able to avoid injury.

As for the reverse bench that someone was talking about, there was an article on here recently about face pulls which sounds pretty much like the same thing. I have been doing those with my other delt and upper back work and they are pretty good at hitting the rear delts. And if you haven't tried snatch grip high pulls, you are missing out on one of the best upper back/rear delt moves around.


^ Face pulls don't recruit the lats in the same way as a bench pull/reverse press, they're more of a rear delt/trapezius exercise.


The 70sbig.com ebook "Texas Method: Advanced" details pendlay rows with a slight hip drive to ensure acceleration throughout the lift.

Coach Pendlay has a video description of the lift on YouTube, but it doesn't include any hip movement like this. So there are multiple opinions on how it "should" be done.


Tim Henriques sums up the two rows pretty well, but I'm with PapaBlunt and the DBs. I believe in BBs for everything, but when it comes to rows you hit a certain level of strength that makes them hard to program. I find both styles of row stressful on my lower back, especially when I'm already programing squats, and deads in a week. When I was rowing 135 I loved BB rows, at 225 they were a workout, when you start putting 275 or more, I've found problems arise. Riptoes programs are great, and I imagine your doing squats, and deads as well. If something doesn't feel right, be aware. There are hundreds of options for every exercise, so don't be afraid to sub something in if needed. I personally like old fashioned T bar rows, at a 45 degree (tow strap). I can move lots of weight , and my low back thanks me. Goodluck


i 100% agree with it. I used to do "heavy" squat twice and deadlift once, after playing basketball on the weekend, I felt like my low back is going to scream.