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How To Do Rows

What is a row?

Cable row exercise

See all row exercise variations

The row exercise helps to develop the major back muscles, which can change the appearance of your upper body and also help to improve how you move in your day to day and when playing sports. There are many variations of rows you can perform in the gym. Find out the different variations below, and give these a try on your next back day.

The row consists of a horizontal pull movement, meaning you'll be pulling the weight in towards you. This is the main movement of the exercise, no matter which row variation you are trying. For every horizontal push movement you perform (for example press ups), it's recommended to perform two horizontal pull movements, to avoid overworking your chest, that could lead to curving of the spine (rounded back), and in turn compromise your posture. When thinking about training the back, it's important to think about creating a well-rounded routine.

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT LAT PULLDOWNS

  • Bent over rows work the back (latissimis dorsi), shoulders, rhomboids, scapular stablisers, forearms and biceps, spinal erectors and to some degree your hamstring and glutes (for positioning).

  • Bent over rows or seated rows are typically performed to improve back strength and increase muscle mass on the back. They are not bad for your back unless they are performed incorrectly, so it’s important to learn proper technique. If you’re not sure how to perform this exercise, ask a personal trainer for guidance.

  • The t-bar row targets the back muscle (latissimus dorsi) but also works the teres major, trapezius and erector spinae, shoulders, biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis.

Row exercise tips

  • Think about keeping your shoulders down as you perform a row to avoid hunching your shoulders up to your ears.
  • When you pull the weight in towards you, think about squeezing your shoulder blades to contract your back muscles.
  • Brace your core when performing this movement to help keep your torso stable.

How to do a bent over row

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: Barbell, weighted plates, pair of barbell clamps

  1. Load your barbell with an appropriate weight.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  3. Bend your knees and lean forward from the waist, keeping your back straight.
  4. From this position, grab the bar with your palms facing down and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  5. Brace your core and squeeze your shoulders together and think about driving your elbows behind you to row the barbell up until it touches your sternum. 
  6. Slowly lower the barbell back to starting position.

How to do a dumbbell bent over row

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

Equipment: Pair of dumbbells.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  2. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward until your torso is slightly above parallel.
  3. Brace your core and then drive your elbows back behind you, whilst squeezing your shoulder blades. Think about bringing your hands towards your hips.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position.

How to do an incline dumbbell row

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

Equipment: Bench, pair dumbbell rows.

  1. Set the bench at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Put your chest on the bench. Plant your feet on the floor and think about squeezing your glutes and exhaling the abs into the bench so your body is nice and taught.
  3. Pick up the dumbbells, look straight ahead, and squeeze your shoulder blades, and drive your elbows up. Avoid lifting your chest off the bench.
  4. Pause and slowly extend your arms back to starting position.

How to do a seated cable row

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

Equipment: Seated row cable machine, V-grip attachment.

  1. Attach the seated row cable machine with a V-grip attachment (or an attachment of your choice) if it is not already attached.
  2. Adjust the pin to a suitable weight if needed.
  3. Sit on the seat with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and feet on the foot rests. Grab the V-bar attachment with arms extended, and with palms facing each other, 
  4. Brace your core and pull the v-bar in towards your body, just below the naval. Think about driving your elbows in towards you hips and keeping the elbows in as you do this.
  5. When the v-bar reaches your torso squeeze your shoulder blades for a second and then slowly extend your arms back to starting position.

How to do a wide grip cable row

Level: Intermediate to Advanced.

Equipment: Seated cable row machine, long bar handle.

  1. Attach the seated row cable machine with a long bar handle if it is not already attached.
  2. Adjust the pin to a suitable weight if needed.
  3. Sit on the seat with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and feet on the foot rests. Grab the bar handle with a wide grip (wider than shoulder-width apart), with arms extended, and with palms facing each other, 
  4. Brace your core and pull bar handle in towards your body, just below the naval. Think about driving your elbows in towards you hips and keeping the elbows in.
  5. When the bar handle reaches your torso squeeze your shoulder blades for a second and then slowly extend your arms back to starting position.

How to do a T-bar row

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

Equipment: Barbell, Weighted plate.

  1. Load one end of the barbell with a weight and secure the other end in the landmine attachment to keep it from moving. 
  2. Stand over the bar and position a V row handle around the bar next to the collar.
  3. Assume a wide stance position with your hips back and back straight. Pull the bar in towards your chest, by squeezing your shoulder blades. Try to keep your elbows nice and close to your body. 
  4. Pause and slowly extend your arms back to starting position.

How to do a landmine row

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

Equipment: Barbell, Weighted plate.

  1. Load one end of the barbell with a weight and secure the other end in the landmine attachment.
  2. Straddle the bar with a slight forward lean and knees slightly bent. Hold the bar with both hands, just below the weighted plate.
  3. Pull the bar in towards your chest, by squeezing your shoulder blades. Try to keep your elbows nice and close to your body. 
  4. Pause and slowly extend your arms back to starting position.

How to do a rear delt row

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

This exercise can be performed standing or seated on a bench.

Equipment: Bench (if preforming seated rear delt rows), pair of dumbbells or a barbell.

  1. For the seated variation, start seated on a bench. Fold your chest forward towards your thigh whilst keeping a nuetral spine. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing you and your elbows pointed to the side. For the standing variation, hold a dumbbell in each hand with feet hip-width apart, bending at the hips whilst keeping a straight spine. Set your arms in a position with your palms are facing you and elbows are pointed to the side. 
  2. From your starting position, squeeze your shoulder blades to draw the weight up until your upper arms are parallel with the floor.
  3. Pause for 1-2 seconds and return to starting position in a controlled manner.

   

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.