Are Bent Over Rows The Best Back Exercise?

Published: 16th April 2010
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The bent over row is one of the "old school" middle and upper back exercise. For some time now, bodybuilders, power lifters and athletes have been performing the barbell row as a way to increase the strength and size of the muscles in the middle to upper back. If you're looking to pack on some bulk and shape to your upper body, then the bent row is a mandatory exercise that you must fit into your lat workouts.

Targeting the Latissimus Dorsi, the bent over row combines the potent bodybuilding benefits of allowing you to train with a heavy weight thorough a complete range of motion and allowing you to target your lats with targeted precision and move closer to the v-shaped upper body that your dying to have! While many of the best muscle building exercises allow you to train multiple body part at the same time, the barbell row doesn't allow any other body parts to steal the show and decrease the amount of stimulation that your lats receive. This is one of the major benefits to incorporating bent over rows into your upper back workouts. You get a lot of lat stimulation with heavy weights.

Muscles Hammered During The Bent Over Row

Aside from the Latissimus Dorsi, there are a few other muscle groups that carry a some of the load. To complete this movement the Brachialis, Posterior Deltoid,Teres Major,Brachioradialis and Biceps Brachii all contribute, but the vast majority of the load is carried by the latsupper back. When performed with proper form, the bent row uses very few of the muscles listed above, but when performed with poor form, it's one of those exercises that can start to push a lot of the load from the target muscle group to the secondary body parts. that's just one of the reasons that it's critical to learn how to perform bent over rows properly.

How To Perform The Barbell Row

1. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip with your hands spaced slightly wider than shoulder width. You should be standing on your feet with them spaced shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly. Lean forward at the waist at approximately a 45° angle. Make sure to keep your back straight during the full range of the movement. If you're body is aligned properly, then the bar should be positioned just above your knee prior to beginning the exercise.

2. Pull the bar up to the lower portion of your chest, making sure to keep your core muscles contracted (in order to stabilize your spine). When properly performed, you will basically be lifting your elbows up towards the sky while holding your upper body in a stationary position.

While performing this exercise, you should feel the muscles in your upper back contracting. The lats are located along both sides of the spine along your back. In order to ensure that you are targeting the lats properly, it helps to think about the muscles that you are using (or supposed to be using) and to attempt to pull your shoulder blades up and back at the top of the exercise, this will force your latissimus dorsi to contract if it isn't already engaged. Once you feel the muscles that are supposed to be performing the bulk of the work during bent over rows, then it becomes easier to make small adjustments to your form to ensure that the right muscles are being targeted.

3. Allow the bar to move back down to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner, but still focus on using your lats to complete the eccentric portion of the lift.

keep in mind that varying the position of your grip will allow you to target different parts of your middle and upper back. If you perform barbell rows with an overhand grip, you will place an emphasis on the lower part of the trapezius and your rhomboids. While performing bent rows with an underhand grip will place most of the emphasis on the upper portion of the trapezius and the biceps brachii.

If you're wanting to increase the strength and size of your upper and middle back, then bent over rows should be a major part of your lat workouts. Not only will you be able to target your lats with laser precision and take a step towards acquiring the v-taper upper body, but you'll be able to train with a heavy enough weight to make a noticeable difference quickly.

Nick Andrade is a certified personal trainer and avid natural bodybuilder who specializes in helping people gain muscle mass quickly and naturally. If you found these bent over row tips helpful, check out Nick's website for more exercise demonstrations and free muscle building workouts.

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