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What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today we’re going to talk all about the barbell
row. You know, the barbell row. Well “which one”, you’re asking? See, that’s the whole point here. We’re going to talk about the truth about
the barbell row because there are a lot of different ways that people try to tell you,
and teach you how to do the barbell row. But I think it starts with what your goal
is, and then determining how ready you are for it. So I want to deliver the ‘no nonsense’ approach
to exactly how to determine where you should be starting and how you can get the most out
of it for what you’re trying to achieve. So let me start with what most people are
now coaching, in terms of the barbell row. It’s from the ground instead of a rack, and
it’s done in a Pendlay version, which is the name of the individual that came up with this
version of the row. What we’re being advised to do is to get all
the way to the point where your back is horizontal to the ground. Now, here’s where the first problem comes
in. A lot of people don’t have the ability to
ever get in this position and it’s difficult because if you have tight hamstrings what
happens is, as you come down to the ground – even though I can maintain this natural
arch here in my low back, which is what I want – if I run into a position where my
hamstrings no longer have any flexibility left in them, in order to keep getting down
my hips have to curl under. I can’t keep going because my hamstrings are
blocking me at this point. So now my hips have to curl under, and now
I can get down. In this position, from a flexed spine, if
I load I’m asking for trouble. But this is where it gets even worse. With the Pendlay row you’re usually rowing
higher. Meaning, when you row higher the bar starts
to travel a little further away from your body. So in order to lift it, we get in this position
here, we’re out, away from our body, and then we explosively pull up from here. Now, this distance of the bar is terrible
when you consider the low back that’s not in the optimal position because the same way
that nobody would ever advise you to deadlift out here; why is it okay to do it during a
row? It’s not. So if I was going to try to row from – or
deadlift – here; great. That’s why they have you drag it against your
shins to keep that moment arm smaller. But if I pull it out here, nobody would ever
tell you to deadlift form there. So are you ready to do that? Is your body ready to get all the way down
into a horizontal passion there, to the ground? I’m going to argue that most of us are not,
and if it’s not the first place I would want you to look is your hamstrings. But the second thing is: What is the main
goal that you’re trying to accomplish with the exercise? If you’re trying to be explosive, powerful,
athletic; then that’s the version that you want to opt for, versus the more strict version
done for lat hypertrophy. But more people will tell you that they’re
doing it for lat hypertrophy. Me? I train athletes. We want to make sure that we’re covering all
bases. So I’m going to show you a version that’s
even better than that Pendlay row to be athletic, and not jeopardize your low back as much. So when we talk about the row, where I want
you to be is not on the ground, at first. You should start from the top down. Meaning, get inside of a rack – I’ll just
go over here now. Get inside of a rack, set it up low, pull
it down, and now in this position here, it should be about the knee, or so. A little bit below the knee. It’s a little bit below the knee. I want to setup a position on my torso where
I’m angled forward here. Not all the way down because again, my hamstrings
can’t even tolerate it for myself. I want to be right about here. Angled just about this much. Then I want that bar to stay close to me. Now, as far as the width on the bar, right
outside, right on the beginning parts of the knurling here, on the bar, right outside the
smoothness – which is basically just outside your knees. If you’re a little bit wider you’ll – just
outside your knees. Now, where do I want to pull to? I want to be able to pull with a position
that allows me to get my elbows behind my body maximally. If I pull to the waist – from here, set,
pull, to the waist – you can see how far my elbows get beyond my body. So right to about here. If I get my arms, and I pull this bar a little
bit more toward my top row o abs, watch how much further my arms get behind my body. Here, and down. So we get a lot more extension of the arm
behind the body, which is the function of the lats. We don’t want to let our arms and elbows
flare because here, we’re losing the adduction of the lats, which is, again, the target we’re
trying to get here. Hypertrophy of the lats. So you want to make sure the elbows can stay
tucked. That’s why you have the narrower grip. That’s why you’re pulling in tight, as opposed
to pulling higher, and letting the elbows drift. Another cue I like to give people is, when
you’re pulling the bar you pull it, you’re trying to break it. You’re trying to break the bar in half so
when I’m pulling, I’m trying to break it and turn. Break it, here, and turn. So I can screw my lats into themselves. Screw my elbows right here, into my sides. Screw the lats down. Obviously, the bar is not going to let me
break it, and it’s not going to let me turn it. But if I do it that way, we can set, and down. You can see, even as you watch these clips,
how much more activation of the lats, and the contraction – the controlled contraction
– of the lats I get by doing it this way, that I didn’t have in that explosive version
of the row. And of course, with the barbell being much
closer to my body, and my back not being forced into a position it cannot get into; I’ve turned
it into a much safer version of the exercise. Now, as I’m able to develop the flexibility,
and the mechanics in the body – in the movement – that allows me to get lower, and lower;
I could take this to the ground. As you see here, I’m not all that far away
from the ground, but you don’t start on the ground just because somebody tells you
“that’s what the row is”. The row doesn’t start there. The row starts higher, and works your way
down. I’m going to give you another tip here before
I wrap it up here with the explosive version that I like better than the Pendlay row. That is: when you’re at the bottom here, another
tendency people have is to pull too much from the bicep. If you want to see how ineffective the bicep
is in this position all you have to do is turn your arm down, and flex. Now, I’m flexing as hard as I can, but I can
feel that there’s not that much tension here. But as soon as I flip it up, now I can feel
al to more tension in that bicep. It’s a lot better at contracting when I’m
externally rotated here, than when the arm is internally rotated. So now what does that mean? Well, we don’t have a bicep that’s ineffective
trying to work because we’re bending the elbow out of this row, and it winds up costing you
your opportunity to lift more weight on this exercise because it’s a weak link. So what I’m saying is, try to turn it off
before you pull. So if, instead, at the bottom of every rep
you were to contract your triceps, now you can reciprocally turn off the bicep so when
you initiate the pull it’s happening from the lats, as opposed to the bicep trying to
initiate the move. So we’re here. Like this. And for this you want to be just off the rack
because you want to make sure the triceps have an opportunity to contract, and they’re
not just resting on the ground. Another reason you want to do this, as opposed
to the Pendlay – you’re right here, contract here, pull, come down, contract, pull, squeeze,
down, contract, pull, contract, and pull. Finally, if we’re talking about explosive
– I could have used a heavier weight here, but it’s all right. We have something we call a ‘barbell dead
row’. See, I don’t believe that you should try
to turn the legs off in that Pendlay row, like this, all the way perpendicular here. We don’t want to turn the legs off. What we should try to do instead is, let them
work to help us with the pull as we’re doing the deadlift. So you take the bar, you bring it closer – here
– you try to sit your hips down, and back – which is already safer, it just took the
demands off that low back and hamstrings that we had as a problem in the beginning – and
I row it to the knees. When I get to the knees I explosively row
up, back down, and lower. That’s a dead row. Much more explosive, letting the body work
the way it’s supposed to, and still not compromising the explosiveness, the power, and the strength
that alternative provides you. Again, if you’re looking for straight-on lat
development guys, the truth of it is, don’t do what people are showing you just because
they show you and say “This is how it’s done.” It may not be how YOU are supposed to do it. All I care about is you getting out of the
exercise what you want, without getting anything out of it that you don’t want. Like and injury. I hope you guys found this helpful. In the meantime, if you want a whole program
that puts the science back in strength – as a physical therapist I care about every, single
exercise, and how you do it. We have them all over at Our programs, you can get them over here. In the meantime, if you haven’t already subscribed
make sure you do so. Click here and turn on your notifications
so you never miss another video. You can watch our latest video up here. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 thoughts on “The Truth about Barbell Rows (AVOID MISTAKES!)

  1. Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!

  2. for the past few weeks ive been using a womans barbell to do these, its lighter and skinnier grip it feels soo much nice to do. and i take my shoes off can feel the floor better for a comfortable stance. weird i know. and using the smaller barbell used for curls i have used this too the way the weight sits its a huge difference. i love this excersize my favourte.

  3. Jeff , never say NOBODY ! There’s a non certified , nobody asked you “trainer” in every gym . They’re usually mid 40s , terrible shape , and try to teach every chick in the gym how to workout . It’s painful to watch the misinformation they’re giving ..

  4. Any thoughts on reverse grip vs the overhand grip ?? I’m more comfortable with reverse grip , I feel a much better pump ..

  5. Is there something similar to the barbell row, every time I try it I feel like I'm not using proper form. Please help, I really wanted to incorporate this into my regimen.

  6. That's how I've always done penlay row naturally lol more of half deadlift and row just made more sense biomechanically. If you're an athlete or just want to Improve your deadlift this is a great choice 👍 accessorie

  7. That screwing thing is big. Learned it couple of weeks ago and my low traps especially feel so much stronger already now. Got to implement that triceps activation to it too and it will be epic. Thanks!

  8. That row looks really bad for your wrists ? Is that a worry? Agree about the pendlays though, my pt tried to get me to do them in my new program this week and I’ve flat out refused. Cant get into the position with a straight back as you pointed out. Thanks

  9. Question: In your other video from 2014 ( seems to say not to pull your arms behind your back which will cause shoulder issues. These videos seem to conflict in a way.

  10. I love how you showed that there is progression in the row. Many other channels would have only shown the rows on the floor. This is my 8th time watching this video and I think I am ready for the dead row thank you Jeff.

  11. Absolutely fantastic. Just tried the row for the first time yesterday, and I don't have the flexibility to do it safely. This advice is just perfect.

  12. I love the athlete way he is showing. Its looks aloy more controlled and less room for injury. This way us better for me considering i havent done these very much.

  13. Why don't you aim for getting your sholders behing you instead of your elbows? As your shoulders could be rounded forward , but your elbows could be further behind you which would lead to less recruitment, rather than focusing on moving shoulders behind you to optimise lat recruitment

  14. How are you teaching people if you don't know how to do it correctly. You do biceps even you talk how not to do it.

  15. What about facing the palms forwards when doing the barbell row? That would help you get your elbows back further and keep them tighter to your sides, but I'm wondering if that would then use to much of your biceps?

  16. You've sold it to me Jeff, I'm ditching Pendlay Rows from my program, I had the same questions that you answered at the start, but since I'm not a sports scientist, I just ignored them.

  17. So what's the best type to do if you have a gut? I'm not fat per say just thick, like an Offensive Lineman. I feel like my bar path isn't very far unless I flare my elbows out like hes saying not to do. Been doing croc rows and other more mobile sources to get my lats worked. Feel restricted using barbell.

  18. StrongLifts should probably link to this video, they got all kinds of beginners trying to do a hinge that they likely can't do.

  19. Me: flex your triceps
    Jeff: contract your triceps
    This is the indirect reason why i never doubted a single thing on his tips 💯💯

  20. your back was never horizontal to the floor, closer to perpindicular. If you really were horizontal, your body would resemble a sideways L.

  21. brilliant video… i have had back pain every time i have done these… question… how about a supine grip ? it would bring the biceps into play more and actually work the biceps too…

  22. Ever since learning about the so-called "dead-rows" I've incorporated them into my routine as the main barbell row movement. Even though I absolutely love the excersise (best back-builder ever IMO), I couldn't do any other bb row variation without my lower back getting hurt and fatigued each time, no matter how much I focused on the form, using ligher weights, stretching all the tight muscle groups and starting over and over. Now I can do them without any issue and the results are already quite noticeable! I guess something about getting the legs involved in the initial pull phase takes off a lot of stress off my lower back since the initial pull is where I felt I was the most vulnerable. Thank you Jeff for showing us this variation!

  23. I'm sure you get this all the time, but you are by far the greatest trainer I have ever seen! Thank you for providing so much incredible information. I watch you so much my girlfriend thinks I'm in love with you… (hint, I probably am) <3

  24. Great video. What I find however is that a supinated grip is better for making sure your arms remain tucked to the sides. It also takes away the strain from your forearms and wrists as they can be straight.

  25. Great suggestion Jeff. This will definitely also save me from any back injury or back pain starting at a knee on Penley rows at this level. Very intelligent suggestion brother. Thank you so much. I love your modifications and exercises to prevent injuries.

  26. Thanks, Jeff. As always, I now feel confident that I can do it safely for my needs. Finding your videos has enabled me to gain strength and muscle while staying safe. I greatly appreciate all of your videos and your passion for teaching. You are an inspiration!

  27. With all respect Jeff i dissagree a little with you here. Right at 4.43 your form is wrong because your forearms are not vertical to the ground at the end of the movement and that's why your forearm muscles are flexed(which fatiques them faster) and this also puts pressure on your biceps. If you notice at the end of your row the barbell is under your shoulders instead of behind them which minimizes the pressure that the weight is supposed to put on your lats. This is not supposed to be a linear movement, there is slight arc to it.

  28. My number one tip to take from this video is the break and turn. It’s the only que in the world that’s helped me activate my lats

  29. I used a new machine last week for squats, a belt squat machine, brilliant ill never squat any other way again.

  30. @AtheanX- can you do this with single weights, specifically with the,"breaking the bar" technic to isolate the lat muscle group?

  31. Pen rows get prescribed in my program. Can’t do them effectively because of my anatomy. See if Jeff has any solutions. 20 seconds into the video he’s describing my exact problem. Damn this dude is good. What a phenomenal resource to all of us.

  32. wider stance like sumo deadlift stance allow my back to go parallel to the ground without a compromised lowerback . short stance deadlift work the hamstring , and I am not trying to work the hamstring in a bloody row lol .

  33. I'm training Olympic Lifts AND for hypertrophy on top of that. Which rows should I do? because it is near impossible for me to get my back to grow.

  34. I start my workouts with pull-ups, barbell rows, and hammer curls, before I move on to the pushing exercises, any thoughts?

  35. Watching your vids for couple of years now and ive only just noticed your hair ! Jeff you look like you have a toupee you need to fix it 😂

  36. I've been doing the last one and i've been told it's wrong. Isn't keeping the bar in the air while your back is horizontal asking for a lower back strain, you are holding that bar weight with your back? Especially after sets of deadlifting. Please help me i see so many different ways of doing these i don't know anymore..

  37. But ain't doin this excercise in a rack looked at as just as bad as doing Curls in the rack?? Basically anything in the rack other than squats people tend to hate………

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