The best way to Do the Barbell Excessive Row for a Highly effective, Muscular Higher Again

In a quest for higher again dimension and energy, and the muscular silhouette that comes with it, lifters are more and more discovering room for a novel rowing train of their back-building routines. The barbell excessive row, typically referred to as the broad row, is a bent-over barbell row carried out with a particular setup and arm path that hammers your entire higher half of your again, particularly your mid-back and shoulders.

Whereas bent-over rows and reverse flyes are conventional decisions to focus on these areas, the barbell excessive row presents distinct mechanical benefits that promote focused loading and sincere type.

Credit score: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

The barbell excessive row is an old-fashioned train having fun with widespread recognition. Whether or not you employ it to spherical out an intense again exercise or to spherical out the backsides of your shoulders, the barbell excessive row is a strong addition to any lifting routine.

Barbell Excessive Row

Barbell Excessive Row Video Information

Dr. Merrick Lincoln, the article’s creator, supplies an instruction video explaining the barbell excessive row. Watch the demonstration, then take a look at the step-by-step evaluation with extra type ideas.

The best way to Do the Barbell Excessive Row Step By Step

To get the advantages of the barbell excessive row, you’ll must concentrate on crisp, strict type. Execute pristine barbell excessive rows with these 4 steps.

Step 1 — Take a Extensive Grip

Dr. Merrick Lincoln in gym demonstrating barbell row
Credit score: Merrick Lincoln, DPT, CSCS / YouTube

The barbell excessive row makes use of a considerably broad overhand grip — particularly, a “snatch grip” just like the Olympic weightlifting train. Your arms ought to seize the bar considerably past your shoulders and roughly the space between the factors of your elbows when your arms are outstretched at shoulder-height.

Type Tip: Relatively than getting the measuring tape, a easy approach to find out an applicable grip width is to seize the bar within the “scarecrow place:” bend ahead, flare your elbows to shoulder-height, and permit your forearms to hold along with your elbows at an roughly 90-degree angle. Seize the bar at this width. 

Step 2 — Stand Up, Then Hinge Down

Dr. Merrick Lincoln in gym demonstrating barbell row
Credit score: Merrick Lincoln, DPT, CSCS / YouTube

Grip the bar firmly and rise up straight, permitting your elbows to straighten with the barbell resting close to your hips. Hinge ahead at your hips, letting your hips flex as your buttock travels backward to maintain you balanced. The place of your backbone ought to stay just about unchanged — no rounding. Preserve a slight bend in your knees all through the motion.

Type Tip: Decrease till you are feeling a stretch in your hamstrings (behind your thighs) or when the plates are hovering simply above the bottom, whichever comes first. 

Step 3 — Pull Excessive and Extensive

Dr. Merrick Lincoln in gym demonstrating barbell row
Credit score: Merrick Lincoln, DPT, CSCS / YouTube

Maintain the bent place and pull the barbell towards your higher chest, or simply under your collarbone, by concurrently driving your elbows out to your sides whereas drawing your shoulder blades collectively. Not all lifters will be capable of contact the barbell to the higher chest, and that’s okay.

Type Tip: Take into consideration “stretching” the bar or making it longer as you pull. This cue reinforces correct arm path. Guarantee your elbows stay flared to the edges and never alongside your ribs.

Step 4 — Decrease With Management

Dr. Merrick Lincoln demonstrating barbell row
Credit score: Merrick Lincoln, DPT, CSCS / YouTube

Decrease the barbell towards the ground by permitting your elbows to straighten and your shoulder blades to be pulled aside, shifting ahead round your ribcage. Preserve the hinged ahead place and repeat the pull for extra rowing repetitions

Type Tip: Don’t miss out on the stretch throughout your mid-back on the backside. Guarantee your trunk angle or hip hinge depth permits you to get a full vary of movement with out the barbell plates touching the bottom. If you happen to’re versatile and the burden plates hit the ground earlier than you are feeling the stretch, reset your trunk angle by extending your hips or load the bar with smaller diameter plates.

Barbell Excessive Row Errors to Keep away from

The barbell excessive row includes stability and a level of coordination between your higher and decrease physique. Preserve train high quality excessive by avoiding these recurring errors.

Utilizing Too A lot Biceps

Coaching your biceps is good, however hitting the goal muscle tissue of your shoulders and again is nicer. It has been recommended that rowing with larger than 90-degrees of elbow flexion will increase contribution of the biceps brachii. (1)

Muscular man performing barbell row exercise
Credit score: Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock

Furthermore, rowing with extreme elbow flexion reduces the resistance arm, or perpendicular distance between the barbell and the shoulder joint, which in the end reduces demand on the shoulder musculature. 

Keep away from it: Keep away from letting your biceps steal the row by utilizing applicable grip placement, setup, and approach. First, guarantee your grip is overhand and spaced roughly the space between your elbows when your arms are at shoulder-height. Second, while you hinge ahead to arrange, make sure the bar is hanging beneath your higher chest. Lastly, pull towards your higher chest, not your abdomen.

Poor “Scapulohumeral Rhythm”

As you pull your arms again, or horizontally abduct your shoulder joint, your shoulder blades ought to return collectively, or retract. The coupling of shoulder joint motions with applicable shoulder blade motions is known as scapulohumeral rhythm. In case your blades aren’t working along with your shoulder joints, nicely, you’ve acquired no rhythm.

Muscular person in gym performing barbell row
Credit score: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

Keep away from it: Draw your shoulder blades again as you carry out the upward motion part of the row. A helpful cue is to create progressively more room between the entrance of your shoulder and the ground as you row. (2) Then, enable this house to shrink as you carry out the downward motion part.

Momentum from Your Hips or Trunk

Whereas the upward motion part of the repetition needs to be carried out with highly effective intent, type shouldn’t be compromised. If the angle between your trunk and the ground dramatically adjustments throughout every repetition, along with your torso dipping up and down, you’re dishonest and sure sacrificing pressure on the goal muscle tissue.

Bald person in gym doing barbell deadlift
Credit score: UfaBiaPhoto / Shutterstock

Keep away from it: If you happen to can not repair this error by stiffening your midsection and consciously conserving a decent core, it might be time to cut back the burden and put in some extra follow units.

The best way to Progress the Barbell Excessive Row

As soon as the barbell excessive row begins to really feel comparatively straightforward, you want development to make sure ongoing positive aspects. Primarily based in your objectives and preferences, contemplate the next methods.

Add Repetition Quantity

In contrast to the bench press, nobody will ever ask how a lot weight you’ll be able to barbell excessive row, as a result of nobody actually cares. So, moderately than including weight when your units of barbell excessive rows begin to really feel “straightforward,” merely add one other repetition or two per set.

Offered your units haven’t turn out to be miniature endurance occasions restricted by different power programs, steadily progressing into greater repetition ranges could be efficient for constructing muscle. (3)

If you happen to’re a physique-focused lifter who enjoys moderate-to-high quantity units, and your units are nonetheless below 25 or 30 repetitions, proceed so as to add repetitions till your units turn out to be difficult once more.

Improve the Weight

Including extra repetitions could stimulate ongoing muscle progress, however it might not be the most suitable choice for building strength in your again and shoulders. Power, outlined as the power to exert power in a measurable and significant manner, is logically finest developed utilizing progressively heavier masses.

In case you are a strength-focused athlete who’s constantly hitting six or extra repetitions per set with some within the tank, it might be time so as to add some change plates to the bar. On your working units, begin by including increments of two to five% of the entire weight.

Take into account an Eccentric Tempo

Fashionable knowledge within the fitness center suggests utilizing a comparatively sluggish tempo throughout the downward motion (eccentric part) can enhance your positive aspects. Nonetheless, this matter is extra controversial than it appears. Analysis on deliberately sluggish eccentric coaching is combined relating to hypertrophy and seems decidedly unwise for energy objectives. (4)

Tattooed woman preparing to lift barbell
Credit score: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

Nonetheless, if you end up unable or unwilling to progress barbell excessive rows through the normal strategies mentioned above (e.g., damage, lack of extra weights, or good old school stubbornness), making use of an eccentric tempo could also be value consideration. 

If utilizing an deliberately sluggish tempo throughout the eccentric requires you to lower the burden or cut back the repetitions carried out, it probably does not signify a development. (4) To be clear, utilizing an eccentric tempo is solely a development in case you impose it upon the repetitions and cargo your physique is accustomed to. If you happen to select to experiment with eccentric tempo work, a decreasing part that lasts for a full three-to-four depend is an inexpensive goal.

Lastly, deliberately slowing the upward motion (concentric part) of a raise has little to no physiological profit. (5) So you’ll nonetheless wish to strike the stability between intent for bar velocity and management throughout the concentric.

Advantages of the Barbell Excessive Row

Why are increasingly more lifters selecting the barbell excessive row to construct their shoulders and backs? As a result of this rediscovered train has benefits that different widespread choices can not match.

Strong Shoulder Advanced Coaching

The shoulder advanced consists of the shoulder joint correct (i.e., glenohumeral joint), the shoulder girdle (i.e., shoulder blade and collar bone), together with all related muscle tissue. Whereas different forms of rows could hit your latissimus dorsi tougher, arguably no widespread row variation trains the again of the shoulder advanced as robustly because the barbell excessive row. 

Though we are likely to classify all rowing workout routines as “horizontal pulling,” the individuality of the excessive row is all about variations in angles and arm paths. Most row variations bias your shoulder extensors attributable to comparatively slender and low arm paths. These muscle tissue are additionally skilled in neutral-grip lat pulldowns, neutral-grip pull-ups, chin-ups, and different comparable workout routines.

Nonetheless, the barbell excessive row trains your shoulder horizontal abductors because of the excessive and broad arm path. These muscle tissue embody the rear deltoid, a part of the center deltoid, and even a number of muscle tissue of the rotator cuff.

Muscular person in gym preparing to lift barbell
Credit score: Paul Aiken / Shutterstock

Excessive rows could higher goal your mid-back, specifically the center trapezius, in comparison with row variations with decrease arm paths (6) This discovering is sensible, as a result of the excessive and broad resistance utilized by way of your arms maximizes resistance to the scapula retractor muscle tissue.

In case you are already hitting pulldowns or bent-over rows, the barbell excessive row could be an excellent addition to spherical out your coaching for the again of the shoulder advanced. It might probably additionally function an alternative to reverse flyes, as mentioned under.

Laborious to Cheat

In comparison with reverse flyes, a dumbbell train in your rear deltoids and mid-back, the barbell excessive row promotes strict type. It’s a little too straightforward to generate momentum on the backside a part of a reverse flye, and that momentum helps to hold the dumbbells to the highest place with out important muscular activation.

The barbell excessive row, however, leaves little room for producing arm swing as a result of pressure by no means actually comes off the working muscle tissue. What’s true for each workout routines, nonetheless, is that you need to nonetheless stay vigilant to keep away from momentum out of your hips. This may be achieved by fastidiously sustaining the identical trunk angle, or distance between your trunk and the ground, all through the train. 

Low Again Well being

If you happen to may acquire a greenback each time you see an train presupposed to “bulletproof” the low again, you would rapidly purchase a barbell and construct energy and endurance with hip hinge or forward-bent workout routines.

Barbell workout routines that load the hip hinge embody deadlifts, good mornings, bent-over rows, and excessive rows. They’re all efficient for coaching the spinal erector muscle tissue. Because of this, amongst others, these workout routines could also be helpful for combating low again issues. For instance, the Pendlay row has been used as part of an efficient resistance coaching protocol for people with low again ache. (7)

The barbell excessive row is an efficient train for constructing low again energy and endurance. Will the train “bulletproof” your low again? Not within the literal sense, however it might be value a shot for probably stopping again issues or treating applicable forms of low again ache.

Disclaimer: All manufacturers of low again ache are totally different. In case you are affected by low again ache or damage, it is best to get checked out by a sports activities drugs doctor or bodily therapist.

Muscle tissues Labored by Barbell Excessive Row

Whereas conventional bent-over rows and reverse grip bent-over rows are nice for constructing lats attributable to their narrower grip and decrease bar path, the barbell excessive row biases totally different muscle tissue of your again. It’s additionally an outstanding shoulder-builder.

Center Trapezius and Rhomboids

Your mid-back muscle tissue embody the rhomboids main, rhomboids minor, and the center a part of the trapezius. Rhomboids retract your scapulae, or pull the shoulder blades collectively, and help with downward rotation and elevation.

Muscular person flexing back and shoulder muscles
Credit score: – Yuri A / Shutterstock

The muscle fibers of the center a part of the trapezius, typically referred to as “center traps,” are oriented horizontally, so that they completely carry out scapula retraction. Since retraction is the predominant resisted motion of the shoulder blades throughout the barbell excessive row, it hits center trapezius and rhomboids.

Rear and Center Deltoids

Your deltoids are the spherical muscle tissue that sit atop and envelop your shoulder joints. Properly-built deltoids have a “capped” or rounded look, which requires coaching the entrance, center, and rear parts of the muscle. The barbell excessive row hammers the rear deltoids and likewise hits a number of the center fibers.

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff consists of 4 deep muscle tissue and tendons that encompass the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. They’re sometimes thought of stabilizing muscle tissue, working to counteract or modify forces imposed on the joint by a lot bigger superficial muscle tissue. Throughout rows, the subscapularis, or anterior rotator cuff, has been proven to be most lively. (8)

As well as, anatomical evaluation of the posterior rotator cuff (infraspinatus and teres minor) suggests these muscle tissue may additionally be skilled together with the posterior deltoid throughout the barbell excessive row. Each muscle tissue move behind the shoulder joint and are mechanically suited to behave as horizontal abductors.

The best way to Program the Barbell Excessive Row

The barbell excessive row could be programmed in a full-body exercise or in a wide range of workout splits. As a multi-joint pulling train, the barbell excessive row can be utilized to construct practical energy or as an environment friendly strategy to pack on mid-back and shoulder muscle.

As a Average Weight Again-Builder

Lifters with hypertrophy or muscle-building objectives ought to concentrate on reasonable weight units of barbell excessive rows. As a rule of thumb, you’ll use 30-50% much less weight for the barbell excessive row than you do for normal bent-over barbell rows.

For these reaching for calculators or scrolling for calculator apps, chill out. There isn’t any must overthink the burden and repetition vary. So long as your units are excessive effort, or carried out near muscular failure, they are going to be efficient at just about any weight. (3)(9) To placed on muscle, carry out three or 4 units of eight or extra repetitions, taking every working set to inside two or three repetitions of failure. Relaxation two or three minutes between units.

As a Power Staple

Load barbell excessive rows with comparatively heavy weight, and also you’ve acquired a potent train for constructing higher again and shoulder energy. As the burden will increase, keep disciplined along with your type. Extending your hips to provoke the row shifts emphasis out of your higher physique to your decrease physique.

To construct pulling energy, carry out three or 4 units of 4 to 6 repetitions utilizing a difficult weight. Relaxation two to 4 minutes between units.

As A part of a Superset

Utilizing supersets refers to 2 totally different workout routines carried out back-to-back with no relaxation interval in between. It’s a time-efficient coaching technique, in case you’re robust sufficient to deal with it. Within the strictest sense, the 2 workout routines comprising a superset ought to goal antagonistic or reverse muscle teams.

Man outdoors on flat bench lifting dumbbells
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

For the reason that barbell excessive row is a horizontal pulling train primarily concentrating on the again and rear deltoids, its superset counterpart needs to be a horizontal pushing train that hits the chest and entrance of the shoulders. Acceptable “pushing” train choices for this push-pull superset embody the time-honored bench press, the dumbbell hex press, or the dumbbell bench press

Supersets save time, and analysis signifies lifters expertise comparable hypertrophy positive aspects in comparison with straight units. (10) Whereas supersets are recognized to lead to larger perceived exertion and discomfort, most lifters want them over conventional straight units. (11) For an environment friendly exercise, carry out a pressing exercise instantly adopted by the barbell excessive row with no relaxation in between.

Barbell Excessive Row Variations

Searching for different efficient workout routines to construct your mid-back and shoulders? The row variations under use barbells, dumbbells, resistance bands, and machines to boost your exercise. 

Meadows Row

One other more and more common kind of train makes use of a barbell as a lever. They’re referred to as landmine exercises. (2) The Meadows row is a single-arm excessive row landmine train. It was popularized by the late coach John Meadows, MS, CSCS.

Except for the power to carry out the motion unilaterally, a characteristic making the Meadows row distinctive is the resistance curve of the train. The barbell lever makes the row “heavier” on the backside place. (2) Consider, you’re stronger on the backside of the rowing movement than you might be on the prime. (2)

Additionally, the goal muscle tissue of the mid again and shoulders are stretched on the backside place whereas they’re uncovered to larger masses. These options could make the Meadows row extremely efficient for constructing pulling capability and stimulating stretch-mediated hypertrophy.

Resistance Band Excessive Row

Resistance band workout routines are nice for warm-ups, accent workout routines, pump-work, and travel. The resistance band excessive row permits for fast setup and efficiency of the excessive row motion in an upright place.

To carry out resistance band excessive rows, merely anchor a resistance band securely on the degree of your higher chest and take an overhand grip on the band — barely wider than shoulder-width if utilizing a loop-style resistance band. Together with your arms at shoulder top, again up into pressure. Pull the handles excessive and broad, main along with your elbows, to deliver the band to your higher chest earlier than returning to the beginning place. Make certain to not flip the motion right into a face pull by pulling the band to eye-level.

Three-Level Dumbbell Extensive Row

The dumbbell broad row is the single-arm model of the barbell excessive row. (1) Utilizing a three-point stance on a bench supplies the help chances are you’ll must zero-in on course muscle tissue.

Arrange by putting the non-working aspect knee and palm on the bench, along with your working-side foot on the ground, and the dumbbell within the working-side hand. Drive your elbow out the aspect as you pull towards the higher chest. Return to the beginning place whereas permitting your shoulder blade to “wrap ahead” round your ribcage.

Machine Extensive Row

Assist and steering supplied by a well-built machine will help to make sure your rear deltoids and mid-back obtain the meant coaching stimulus from broad rows. The machine also can decrease calls for in your low again, which could be helpful when managing fatigue all through a grueling exercise.

Discover a row machine with wide-set horizontal handles. Alter the seat to permit a excessive arm path towards your higher chest. Take overhand grips on the handles and draw the machine’s motion arms again. Just like the barbell model, drive your elbows out to your sides and retract your shoulder blades as you pull. Reverse the motion to return to the beginning place.


What’s the distinction between the barbell excessive row and the bent-over barbell row?

Whereas each workout routines are carried out from the hip hinge place with overhand grips, the barbell excessive row makes use of a considerably wider grip. Because of the wider grip, the pure bar path for the excessive row is “greater” because the bar is pulled towards the higher chest, whereas the bent-over row is pulled towards the decrease chest or higher abdomen.

“Ought to I squeeze my shoulder blades collectively earlier than I row?”

Some coaches encourage lifters to retract or set their shoulder blades previous to initiating the row. Whereas this might be helpful as a really early instructing drill, coaching utilizing this system is misguided. 
Throughout practical actions like a row, the shoulder joints and shoulder blades ought to work collectively to perform the duty. Whereas retraction is the suitable motion of the scapulae, performing it previous to the row limits the stress the mid-back is uncovered to throughout the row. The dynamic retraction work is already full earlier than motion of the higher arm bone amplifies the resistance arm.
We all know muscle tissue are stronger isometrically than concentrically, so merely holding the retracted place throughout probably the most difficult parts of the row will fail to stimulate as a lot mid-back progress as performing rows the proper manner — retract as you row.

Barbell excessive rows for low again well being? Why not deadlift as a substitute?

That’s an choice. Each workout routines practice your spinal erector muscle tissue. Deadlifts have been a part of the low again ache protocol examine mentioned above, and extra proof suggests deadlifts could also be helpful for people affected by low again ache. (7)(12)(13)
Nonetheless, there are just a few causes the barbell excessive row would possibly be favored over deadlifts. The barbell excessive row makes use of considerably much less weight than deadlifts, which can lead to much less compressive loading by way of the backbone. However the bar path of the excessive row is farther from the lumbar backbone than it’s within the deadlift, which means the barbell has a bigger resistance second arm. The longer resistance arm applies proportionately bigger torque or demand on the low again, which is in the end counteracted by the spinal erectors.
Lastly, throughout the row, the lifter stays hinged ahead on the hips all through your entire set, which can result in the event of larger muscular endurance within the low again. Each are nice workout routines. Once more, if you’re affected by again points, seek the advice of a sports activities drugs doctor or bodily therapist for individualized recommendation.

Construct a High-Degree Physique with the Barbell Excessive Row

The barbell excessive row is an efficient train for including muscular thickness behind the shoulders and between the shoulder blades. Over time, this new muscle will fill out the highest half of your physique. Higher but, to assist preserve you within the fitness center lengthy sufficient to understand these positive aspects, the barbell excessive row additionally promotes shoulder and low again stability.


  1. Hedrick, A., & Herl, M. (2021). Strategy of the unilateral dumbbell broad row. Power & Conditioning Journal43(4), 121-123.
  2. Lincoln, M. A., et al. (2023). Train Method: The Landmine Row. Power & Conditioning Journal45(3), 371-378.
  3. Schoenfeld, B., et al. (2021). Resistance coaching suggestions to maximise muscle hypertrophy in an athletic inhabitants: Place stand of the IUSCA. Worldwide Journal of Power and Conditioning1(1), 1-30.
  4. Suchomel, T. J., et al. (2019). Implementing eccentric resistance coaching—half 1: a quick overview of present strategies. Journal of Purposeful Morphology and Kinesiology4(2), 38.
  5. Hermes, M. J., & Fry, A. C. (2023). Deliberately Gradual Concentric Velocity Resistance Train and Power Diversifications: A Meta-Evaluation. Journal of Power and Conditioning Analysis37(8), e470-e484.
  6. Lim, J. Y., et al. (2015). A comparability of trapezius muscle actions of various shoulder abduction angles and rotation situations throughout susceptible horizontal abduction. Journal of Bodily Remedy Science27(1), 97-100.
  7. Tjøsvoll, S. O., et al. (2020). Periodized resistance coaching for persistent non-specific low again ache: a combined strategies feasibility examine. BMC Sports activities Science, Medication and Rehabilitation12, 1-12.
  8. Wattanaprakornkul, D., et al. (2011). Route-specific recruitment of rotator cuff muscle tissue throughout bench press and row. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology21(6), 1041-1049.
  9. Weakley, J., et al. (2023). Physiological Responses and Diversifications to Decrease Load Resistance Coaching: Implications for Well being and Efficiency. Sports activities Medication-Open9(1), 1-10.
  10. Fink, J., et al. (2021). Physiological Responses to Agonist–Antagonist Superset Resistance Coaching. Journal of Science in Sport and Train3, 355-363.
  11. Andersen, V., et al. (2022). A comparability of affective responses between time environment friendly and conventional resistance coaching. Frontiers in Psychology13, 912368.
  12. Aasa, B., et al. (2015). Individualized low-load motor management workout routines and schooling versus a high-load lifting train and schooling to enhance exercise, ache depth, and bodily efficiency in sufferers with low again ache: a randomized managed trial. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports activities Bodily Remedy45(2), 77-85.
  13. Welch, N., et al. (2015). The consequences of a free-weight-based resistance coaching intervention on ache, squat biomechanics and MRI-defined lumbar fats infiltration and practical cross-sectional space in these with persistent low again. BMJ Open Sport & Train Medication1(1), e000050.

Featured Picture: Paul Aiken / Shutterstock

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