Barbell Row

  • Alternative Names: Bent over barbell row, barbell back row, overhand barbell row
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Back, abs, lats, shoulders, biceps
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 10-15 reps each
  • Variations: Upright, reverse grip, rear delt, inverted, one arm, smith machine, and wide grip barbell rows
  • Alternative: Bent over two-arm dumbbell row, dumbbell one arm upright row

The barbell row, also referred to as the bent over barbell row, is a compound movement used for developing your back, abs, and biceps. You may include it in your back workout routine as an assistance exercise so that you develop the strength to do the lifting exercises like deadlift, bench press, and squat.


  • Takes care of muscle imbalances between your back and the chest
  • Improves shoulder stability so that you can keep the shoulder blades stationary when performing big lifting exercises like bench press
  • Helps athletes and bodybuilders develop an aesthetic physique with a thicker, wider upper back

Barbell Vs Dumbbell Row

Barbell Row Dumbbell Row
The Form Done by bending at your knees and then bringing the torso forward from a standing position Involves putting one of the knees and hands on a bench and rowing a dumbbell with the other hand
Stability Stabilizes your abs, lower back, and hips by balancing the barbell and your body weight Emphasizes your upper back but does not balance the dumbbell and your body weight like the barbell version
Weight Used Engages more muscles and allows you to use more weight and is suitable for gaining muscle and strength Involves lifting a lesser weight and can be performed when you have a lower back injury

How to do Barbell Rows

Barbell Row

At the start of this exercise, your back will be parallel to the ground. Keep your torso steady with the elbows close to the body while lifting the weight toward you. Make sure to contract the back muscles as far as you can before releasing them.

The exercise should be avoided by people with back issues.

Bent Over Barbell Row Tips

  • Keep your head up throughout the movement.
  • Do not slouch your back forward because it can cause injury.
  • Use lesser weight (80-100 lbs) if you are not comfortable with lifting heavier weights.
  • You can change your grips between sets to develop your back completely.
  • If you want to work your lats more, perform the exercise at the beginning of your back workout routine.


  1. Barbell Upright Row: Performed by holding a barbell using a pronated grip with your hands placed at a lesser-than-shoulder-width
  2. Reverse Grip Barbell Row: Involves holding the barbell with a supinated grip so that your palms are facing up.
  3. Barbell Rear Delt Row: Is done by bending slightly more than the basic version and holding the barbell using a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  4. One Arm Barbell Row: Involves pulling one end of an Olympic barbell with one arm until the weight plates touch your chest.
  5. Smith Machine Barbell Row: Is a machine version performed by setting the barbell to a height of about 2-3 inches below the knees.
  6. Inverted Barbell Row: Is done by placing a bar on the rack at about your waist level and then hanging underneath it while holding it with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  7. Wide Grip Barbell Row: Involves rowing the barbell up while keeping your torso at an angle of about 45 degrees with the floor and holding the bar using a wider-than-shoulder-width, pronated grip.

Alternative Exercises

  • Bent Over Two-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Dumbbell One Arm Upright Row

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