T Nation

Rows vs Bench Strength?


I hear alot about imbalance between push and pull motions. Currently I can do 185 on bench for my 3x12 day, but I only do 115 for bent over rows. I would think they should be more even.

I guess I'm looking for some other opinions, if they should be closer what reps and sets will help build my back the fastest? I'm thinking of adding some AM workouts for my back then hit it again that night.

Any thoughts?



just the same for each dude, so whatever you do for bench, use the same intensity for rows,


I'm in a similar situation...

I bench 225 or so and bent over BB row at most 185-205... strange though since I can one arm DB row 130 lbs when I am fresh...
Talk about disparity :stuck_out_tongue:

Just keep focused on bringing your back up to strength by doing the back exercises first in your push/pull routine and increase the variety of angles you hit it from :slightly_smiling:


It's a good idea to use the same hand-spacing for rows as your bench.


I've been trying that and I've been working back hard. The thing is it's just much weaker than my chest. I didn't mean to imply I only do 115 because I don't want to work. It is the most I can do with good form for that many.

I'm one of those who grew up doing bench all the time and I really neglected everything else. Playing catch up sucks.


it's much easier to cheat on one arm db rows. and i'm not trying to be a dick either that's just the truth. guys will always use way more way db rowing because it's easier to cheat than with BB rowing.


It's been said that the only way to get as much weight in a pulling excersise would be through deadlifting.

If you're not deadlifting then you might want to up the volume of your back workouts (compared to your pressing excersises).

If you are deadlifting, then you can use about the same volume with your other pulling excersises as your pressing.

That's just my take on it.

Don't worry so much about the amount of weight you can do with each excersise. They are different muscles and use different leverages.



It's not even about you being a dick LOL... I find that through the simple mechanical advantage of a bent-over dumbbell row (e.g., one hand supported on the bench, other hand lifting the 'bell) allows for more mental focus moreso than that of the barbell row.

As for form I definitely try keep my form strict as possible & keep my back parallel to the floor, abs tight, etc. and minimize torquing through the trunk area. Amazing how it works your legs too in keeping rigid for form though.

As another poster stated as well it's all about leverage and body type.

Good luck and keep rowing.


If you're going to compare bench vs. rows; which I don't think you should, you should be comparing chest supported rows vs. bench press--where your back is supported.


I guess this is also what I am trying to ask. Should my bent over rows be similar to my bench. What are some of your numbers for comparison?

I was under the impression that if your row numbers are not similar to your bench numbers you might have an imbalance.


if im reading all this correctly it looks like youre saying your form is perfect for both BB rows and the DB rows...yet shortly after you "bust through that plateau" of the 130's youre going to be one arm rowing more than you are rowing with both arms?

here's a tip: find someone who is experienced in training and ask them to look at your form. im not trying to say you dont know jack or anything, its just rather hard to step back and watch your own form. unless youre cheating like shit with the DB rows, or just plain not pushing yourself with the BB rows...something doesnt jive. now the only challenge is whether or not you want to do this or simply come back with hey man youre a dick im not cheating blah blah like people always do on these boards.. but one of them will get your rows moving in the right direction, and the other will set your place in stone as one of those "genetic freaks" that DB rows more than he BB rows. in the mean time id skip your next post about how you can use more weight on incline flys than you can with flat BB bench


I think that if there is a great difference (but I don't know how 'great') it would show that there is an imbalance, but I still don't think most people's row (even chest supported) will equal their bench.

More people will probably have an imbalane simply because benching movements seem to be a lot more popular than rowing.

If you're years behind in rowing compared to benching (like I was), then you may want to just maintain your pressing strength and work harder on pulling.

As long as you're consistantly using relatively heavy rows and deadlifts in your routines, even with an imbalance your back will catch up. I'm not saying it will catch up weight wise, but will balance out so you don't risk an injury due to the muscle imbalance.

I think our bodies are naturaly better at pushing than pulling (upper body anyway). So being 'balanced' would mean that your upperbody pushing movements will be slightly stronger than your upperbody pulling.


I have not read all of the replies. However, you should not equate Barbell Rowing with Bench Pressing relative to them being equal in strength.

The Bench Press allows you to lay down and lift a heavy weight supported by a (hopefully) nice strong bench. The Barbell Row places you in an awkward position and does nothing to protect or support you. Nothing wrong with that and in fact (in my opinion) the Barbell Row is far more functional for that very reason.

However, comparing the two and making claims that your back is not as strong as your chest based on this comparison is simply wrong minded.

Just about everyone who does both movements will be able to Bench more than they can Row!


I can row more than I can bench raw. My shirted bench is more than your squat.lol My raw pull is more than your sub total.lol


well said comarade!


Do you do your one arm DB rows with your other arm balancing/supporting your upper body on a bench or something?

The body isn't going to let your try and bend over, shift the center of gravity away from stable and row a lot of weight... the body wants to be stable. If you have an arm down on a bench, you add stability and support, thus able to lift a greater load with the other arm.

it's science.


Do you want a cookie?


Mmm....I do!


You might try using wrist straps when you lift. I know that's kind of a touchy subject with some people but unless you work forearms and grip strength (and even if you do), your grip will start to fail before your back muscles crap out. When that happens your mind tells you to put the weight down before you drop it so you never really pound the back like you need to. The hand and forearm muscles are some of the smallest (and frequently most neglected) muscles in the body and the back muscles are some of the largest and strongest. Trying to transfer the load to the big strong muscles using the smaller, weaker muscles is tough!!
Work on your grip and forearm strength and try using straps at some point in your row routine when you feel your grip start to fail and I bet you'll get a better back workout. I BO row about 280-290 with good form (3 sets of 6) but I usually use the wraps starting about 225 or 230 depending on how I feel.
Just a thought.


Dude... what is your problem? I am not bragging or stating I'm perfect or anything... geez.. I'm just stating what works for me and is what I DO in the gym... You have what, a grand total of 6 posts and probably lurking and you come out e-guns blazing, huh? You're suddenly the expert? Take it easy. I don't need your validation or condemnation since we'll probably never meet in this lifetime but let's get some things straight:

Cheating has its place in some exercises but previous back injuries make me even more wary and executing proper form.

AND I've had numerous people that are somewhat knowledgeable about training watch my form and tell me I'm doing it properly.

You're right that I probably am not pushing myself with BB rows but you don't know shit about my workout rotuine(s) now, do you? I looked at some of your other posts and dude, your arrogance and conceit is amazing in your replies to other posts too.

Too bad.

As an e-community we could learn a lot from each other but you just keep on keeping shooting people down instead of contributing positively to what otherwise is an amazing forum that I check daily to get inspired and fired up for the gym.

btw I don't do incline flyes :stuck_out_tongue:

My apologies to Todd S. for venting LOL