Bench press and squats will help you build a strong foundation, but your back is the key to a bigger and stronger upper body and core. The bent over row is a compound movement that activates your lats as well as your biceps. We’re going to talk about the benefits of bent over row, how to execute with perfect form, and why this staple back exercise can be the missing training piece to your performance.
The barbell bent over row, is a compound movement, which stimulates the low back, lats, shoulders, and biceps. The bent over row has many variations, depending upon the training implement used, whether that’s dumbbells, an EZ bar, a barbell, TRX, or kettlebells. Bent over row can also be performed in several different ways, either from a knelt position on a bench or standing freely bracing your core. Oh, and let’s not forget the different grip, whether that’s overhand or underhand.
Bent over row activates several back muscles including the middle trapezius, lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, and erector spinae. Additionally, bent over row stimulates the biceps and shoulders.
In a study sponsored by the American Council On Exercise, eight different back exercises were evaluated and found that the bent over row, provided more muscle activation in the middle trapezius, lower trapezius, infraspinatus, and erectors, than nearly all other back exercises, activating three of the five back muscles to the greatest degree [R].
Bent over rows also target your scapular stabilizers. During the movement, you retract your shoulder blades moving from a protracted to retracted position, increase strength and stability, of your shoulders.
Studies suggest that the bent over row is one of the best back day exercises to build more muscle and strength. EMG research shows that the bent over row significantly activates the mid, low, and erectors better than any other back exercise. More muscle and strength will translate to bigger, heavier lifts and total body strength across other lifts.
Bent over rows can benefit your posture by reinforcing your erectors and scapular stabilizers, keeping your midline braced and positioned to hold heavier weight. This can help promote better back posture, balance, core stability and strength. Your core must remain engaged throughout the entire movement, improving strength and enhancing posture and balance.
Bent over rows can greatly benefit core strength. Your core is braced throughout the movement to stabilize your upper and lower back in a bent over position. Traditionally performed with a barbell or EZ bar, your core is activated while lifting the bar retracting your shoulder blades back, maintain balance and strength. Better core strength can cumulatively increase athletic performance.
- Standing holding a barbell or EZ bar with a pronated grip (palms facing down), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward. Bend at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor.
- Keep your head up and hang the barbell or EZ bar directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your core.
- Keeping your core and midline braced, breath out bringing the barbell or EZ bar, keeping your elbows close to your body and in line with your knees.
- Retract your scapulae, squeeze at the top of the lift, and pause.
- Inhale and slowly lower the barbell or EZ bar back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of reps.
Building your back requires strength training movements that can stimulate multiple muscle groups. Bent over is an effective compound movement that can greatly benefit your training by increase strength, muscle mass, and core stability.
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