Barbell Exercises: Bent Over Row

The barbell bent over row is one of many classic barbell exercises that offer free weight opportunities to tone and train various muscle groups. This activity is one that might be a little controversial these days, where fixed weight opportunities are available that simulate some of the same muscle work without as much chance for injury. Still, if you’re looking for more core strengthening exercises to add to your fitness program, you may want to look at this unique activity and the specific workout benefits that it offers.

Doing the Barbell Bent Over Row

To do the barbell bent over row, follow these general instructions.

  • Load the barbell (a long metal pole with weight loads on each end) and place it in front of you on the floor. For best results, start with a relatively low weight, say, 10 pounds on each end. You can gradually increase the weight as you go, but overloading the barbell is one of the biggest causes of injury with this exercise. Make sure that the pins holding the weights in place are properly set.
  • Bend down and pick up the barbell with both hands. Try to maintain a grip with even distances between each hand and each end of the barbell. Use an appropriate stance to support your body and the weight load you have chosen.
  • Carefully, keeping your knees bent, pull the barbell up to your lower chest using both arms. You should be able to feel whether the weight is properly distributed and not putting excessive tension on your lower back.
  • Return the barbell to a lower position as near the ground as possible, without changing the angle of your knees.

Avoiding Injury with a Barbell Bent Over Row

As mentioned above, beginners who start with a low weight load are less likely to be injured with this exercise. Regardless, the barbell bent over row has some specific injury risks that you should think about when you’re starting out. Letting the bar get out of control may strain your lower back or injure your arms. You may also pull a muscle by not using proper form with this exercise. You should not be straightening and bending your knees, but instead maintaining a position closer to the floor and using your arms to pull up the barbell. If your arms are overloaded and overstressed, other muscles and parts of your body may get injured.

Alternatives to the Barbell Bent Over Row

Although the barbell bent over row does offer unique muscle training opportunities, a combination of seated presses, weight machine fly exercises and lat pulldowns or pull-ups may offer some of the same core and upper body muscle training without requiring you to pull up heavy weights while bent nearly double. According to some experts, the positioning for the barbell bent over row is inherently risky, and if you have certain back problems or other limitations, this exercise may not be for you. Think hard about how your existing medical conditions support different fixed weight and free weight workout options before you add the barbell bent over row to your fitness program. You may want to consult a trainer at your gym, or even your family medical doctor about the best resistance exercise choices for you.

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