Bent-over barbell row

Exercise details

  • Target muscles: None; the back in general. See synergists
  • Synergists: Latissimus Dorsi, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, Teres Major, Posterior Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Sternal (Lower) Pectoralis Major
  • Dynamic stabilizers (not highlighted): Biceps Brachii, Long Head of Triceps Brachii
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Stand over a loaded barbell, with the bar lining up with your toes.
  2. Bend at the hips and a little at the knees and grasp the barbell with hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Your back should be straight and close to horizontal (illustration needs correcting. Sorry!).


  1. Exhale as you pull the barbell up to your waist.
  2. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your back muscles.
  3. Inhale as you lower the barbell in a controlled manner until it nearly touches the floor.
  4. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your back straight and close to horizontal.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Pull with your back muscles, not your arms.
  • Many people think that the biceps brachii acts as a synergist in rowing exercises such as the bent-over barbell row, when, in fact, it only acts as a dynamic stabilizer, along with the long head of the triceps brachii.
  • There’s a strict variation of the bent-over barbell row called the Pendlay row that involves explosively pulling the barbell up and letting it drop down to the floor at the end of each rep (see second video).
  • See also the underhand Yates row.


Bent-over barbell row instructions

Pendlay row


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