Bent Over Barbell Rows - Upper Back Exercise

Why is Barbell Bent Over Rows so effective?

If you are looking to strengthen the upper back and add massive muscle to upper back region then Bent over Barbell rows is the best upper back exercise.

Its a favorite of legend Arnold Schwarzenegger and he mentions that how he suggested this exercise to Frank Zane who has a weaker middle and lower back compared to his upper back and he went on to develop Mr Olympia body.

We mortals can definitely benefit.


Barbell Rows Start Position

Purpose -- To Build Muscle Mass in Upper Back

Execution Technique.

This exercise is using a Barbell loaded with weights.

Barbell Rows Midpoint Position


1. Stand with a narrow stance and grab hold a bar with overhand grip.

2. Bend down with knees slightly and let the bar hang in front of you.

3. Now use the back and raise the bar until it touches the abdominal region and NOT the chest region as it reduces back muscle contraction.

4. Lower the bar under control to starting position.

Points to remember

  • Exhale while you exert.
  • Do not use more weight than you can handle. This fatigues your spinal erectors and say goodbye to form then.
  • Use wrist straps if applicable to reduce biceps involvement.
  • Perform good 1-2 sets warm ups.

Alert - Avoid rounding lower back when you row down

Keep your back naturally arched as a rounded lower back can result in spine injuries like herniated disks.

Bending your knees slightly and keeping your torso rigid throughout the move helps keep a straight back.

Ask partner assess proper form or use a mirror to evaluate your form.

Bent Over Rows Variations

Bent over Dumbbell Rows


Dumbbells allow extra squeeze at the top and a greater stretch at the bottom.

Execution Technique.

Here a pair of Heavy Dumbbells replace the barbell.


1. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and bend forward with knees slightly bent.

2. Now lift the dumbbells to your sides as far as possible.

3. Now lower the weights to the starting position.

Dumbbells adds a variation and hits in a different angle and therefore you can perform this exercise to spice your routines sometimes.


1. Dumbbell rows face down on an incline bench.

2. One arm dumbbell rows

3. Single leg dumbbell rows

4. Neutral grip dumbbell rows

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Related Back Exercises

Chin Ups
Lat Pull Downs

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