Get your form right, and the barbell bent over row is one of the best exercises that you can do for your entire back region. It works every single muscle group from your lower all the way through to your upper back, which is one of the few exercises that can do so. That's why getting it right every single time is essential to your progress and your safety.

Because of how great an exercise it is, it also helps with other lifts too. It's essentially a full upper-body compound exercise that will help you build up your strength to perform the bigger strength exercises like deadlifts and bench presses. It's well worth taking the time to make sure you know what you're doing correctly and safely.

again, like most compound exercise, however, there’s actually a lot more to the exercise than meets the eye. As with any back exercise, it’s incredibly easy to get wrong. Back injuries are so easy to sustain, so we cannot stress the importance of proper form when doing anything that uses heavy weights.

Let's take a look at every different part of the exercise.

Bent Over Row Set up:

Man and woman preparing to lift barbells

The set up for the bent over row, like any big exercise, is crucial to your overall form and safety. This is likely going to be the difference between your progress and injury, so take the time to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. It's always worth practising without weights too.

Select a  Weight

Firstly, you need to grab the right weight for the job. You need to make sure that you're using a weight that suits your capabilities and won't cause you to cheat or lose your form just to get better results. It's easy to use a bigger weight to feel like you're stronger than you might be, but it really won't help you in the long run. Even starting with just the bar can be a good call to get to grips with the bent over row form perfectly.

Watch your Positioning

The feet are always the base of your power in bog lifts. Here, your feet should be halfway under the bar, and your shoulders should be in front of the bar rather than directly above when you pick the bar up. Keep your knees behind the bar and not locked to make sure they won’t get in the way of your lift. Other than that, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this part.

Prepare Your Grip

Lastly, we need to get your hands right too. Choosing the grip for your bent over row lift can be a challenge to your form. Even if you’re a seasoned lifter, this could still be something that you’re getting wrong out of habit. You should have a strong, mid grip on the bar, depending on your height with your hands shoulder-width apart. (More height, wider grip)

 

Bent Over Row Technique:

Man concentrating while performing the bent row

Once you're ready to go, the actual technique that you use in your bent over row can be another significant danger point to your form. Make sure you're really watching what you're doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or your last rep, your form is everything when it comes to anything, especially using your back. Pay attention here!

Back positioning

Let's address the biggie here. Your back should be straight throughout the entire lift. This includes your neck too. You need to keep a straight spine to prevent injury, and if you can't, then you need to lower the weight. Keep your head in line with your spine so that you're not looking up or down either. Your glutes and hips should be pushed back too. That keeps you balanced.

Arm Positioning

To make sure you're hitting the right places and getting the most out of your lift, keep tight on your arms too. Keep your elbows in throughout the whole lift. If they begin to flare, then it’s likely that you’re cheating to move the weight. This should help you keep your shoulders in place too and prevent moving the weight upwards too quickly.Everything has a knock-on effect.

Watch out for Cheating

As we said above, it can be really easy to cheat on this exercise, even if you don't know that you're doing it. You'll often find that you're trying to throw the bar upwards as you pull to gain momentum rather than taking it at a constant pace, and even using your legs and hips to do so. Worse still, you could use your lower back to pull. Watch out for it. It's also common to see people lowering their chest to the bar to complete a rep, but this is wrong and dangerous as well.

Breathing technique

Like most compound strength exercises, this is a move where you're not finishing each rep with the bar on the floor. This means that you have to time your breathing right to be able to get the most from your performance. It's hard work, but it's vital. The best form to breathe in the bent over row is to breathe out as you lower the bar to the floor and take a proper inhalation before you lift again. This should help tighten your core and support your lower back.

 

Keep all of these in mind throughout every rep, and you should make good proper progress much quicker than you have been doing. You'll also ensure your own safety which could prevent irreparable damage in both the short and long term.

As with all exercises, it's advisable to exercise with someone else who can watch out for these mistakes for you rather than trying to spot it on your own, but take your time and even consider using a lower weight than usual to make sure you've really got it perfected.

 

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.