The bent over barbell row is a great way to load on the weight and overload the entire back.
It also strengthens stabilizer muscles such as the arms, abs, and the legs.
If you are struggling to lift heavy with the exercise, check out some of these tips to blow up your barbell row.
Why Is My Barbell Row So Weak?
If your form isn’t correct, this can be why you aren’t lifting to your full potential. Or your back or stabilizer muscles may not be strong enough. You may simply not be training enough or training with enough intensity to achieve the potential you wish to.
Perfect Your Form
Start by nailing your form. This will not only help strengthen the muscles that you are supposed to be working, but also provide the best gains. It also protects against injury!
Start by bending at your hips and leaning forward until your back is straight and horizontal. Make sure that your chest is up and that your back down not round at all throughout the movement.
Grasp the barbell with hands facing down at just outside shoulder width. Use your elbows to initiate the movement, pulling the bar towards your sternum while squeezing your back.
It may help to really use your elbows to start the movement and think about pulling them back. Your hands are only there to hold the bar. This will help you engage your back muscles more.
Make sure not to flare the elbows out too far. Your abs should be braced the movement to keep your body stable.
The main way to avoid injury is by starting with low weight and not allowing your back to round. A lifting belt can be worn to help with this.
Make sure to do a slow, controlled movement. If you are jerking the bar up using your entire body, you are missing out on a lot of back gains.
Your Back Muscles Aren’t Strong Enough
The back muscles are the main muscles used in the barbell row. Lacking back muscles are most likely the reason you are struggling with the movement. Consider doing more exercises such as dead lifts, pull ups, and seated rows to build up your back.
Train your back twice a week and make sure you are hitting every part of the back. Hit it with barbells, dumbbells, machine, and cable attachments for the best gains possible.
Focus on mind muscle contraction and slowing the exercises down.
Your lats are once of the primary muscles used in the barbell row so they are most likely be what is failing. To improve their strength and size, do pulls up, lat pull downs, and one arm dumbbell rows to build them. Make sure to contract the lat and do full range of motion.
Strong lats will also help promote good posture by stopping the shoulders from slouching forward.
The middle and lower traps are another primary muscle group involved in the barbell row. They work as the shoulder blades are retracted together. As you bring the bar back down the lower traps are mainly worked.
Perform dead lifts, heavy shrugs, and face pulls to strengthen them to make sure they’re reaching their full potential during the lift.
Consider trying out both the underhand and overhand variation to strengthen different areas of the back.
The overhand grip places the most tension on your lats, traps, and rhomboids. This is the best variation for overall back growth.
While the underhand will target the lats more since your elbows will be tucked in. This will also put more emphasis on the biceps, taking away from overall back growth.
Your Stabilizer Muscles Aren’t Strong Enough
Stabilizer muscles work together to assist the primary muscle groups (the back muscles) while performing the row.
The stabilizer muscles involved in the barbell row are the erector spinae, hamstrings, glutes, and abductor magnus. So your legs actually play a big role in the barbell row. If you’ve been neglecting training your legs, this may be the time to start training them more.
Weak legs will make it difficult to hold your body in a bent over position while holding a heavy barbell.
The biceps and triceps are also dynamic stabilizers as they hold up the weight of the barbell. Without strong arms, you won’t be able to hold the weight for very long.
The abdominal muscles are antagonist stabilizers as they keep your body stable while performing the movement.
Squats, dead lifts, and leg press are some great ways to strengthen your legs, so that they are more stable during barbell rows. Barbell and dumbbell curls will strengthen your biceps. Try some skull crushers and close grip bench press for your triceps.
And don’t forget to train your core!
How To Improve Your Barbell Row
Simply perform the barbell row more often. This will help strengthen the muscles used during it and get you more used to doing it.
Make sure you are progressively overloading. Each session, either increase the sets, reps, or weight used. This ensures that you are getting stronger every time perform the barbell row.
Eat more food. Eating in a surplus will allow you to build more muscle and strength.
Focus on form and feeling the movement in your back more. If it means lowering the weight to do so, then you should.
Use explosiveness when you drive the bar up. Don’t confuse this with swinging your entire body though.
Deadlift the weight off of the ground when beginning to set up the row in the most safe manner. This also won’t fatigue you as much, possibly allowing you to perform an extra rep or two.
Make sure you aren’t performing the movement by standing too upright. This will involve the upper traps and place unwanted tension on the neck. Furthermore, it takes the back out of the movement which is not what we want.
Don’t lean too far forward as it will cause possible back rounding, leading to injury.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement for maximum back growth.
Why The Barbell Row Is So Beneficial
Helps work and build your entire back. Being a compound movement, it will also work other muscle groups. So you can work several muscle groups just by doing this one exercise.
It will help strengthen the biceps, forearms, legs, and abs as well.
It’s great for building grip and forearm strength as you have to hold onto the bar.
The barbell row also helps build strength that will assist you in other big lifts. It helps with the bench press by training the opposite muscles used. This will help you have stronger antagonist muscle groups which will assist in your bench press.
It will also help with the dead lift by strengthening your hips and legs, which play a huge role.
Having a more muscular back helps have better posture. This is because bigger rear delt and rhomboid muscles help pull the shoulders, so that you don’t slouch.
You can overload the back by placing a lot of weight on the barbell, increasing muscle gains.