Muscle Group: Upper Back

Bent Over Barbell Rows thicken the upper back. This exercise also helps widen the upper back and, to a lesser degree, adds density to the lower back.

It is important to keep the back working so as not to make this a biceps exercise. Think of the arms and hands as hooks, a way of transmitting the flexion of the lats to the bar. Don’t bring the bar up to the chest area itself; bringing it only to the abdomen reduces the role of the arms.

Standing with your feet 8-12 inches apart, grab the bar with a wide, overhand grip. With your knees slightly bent, bend forward until your upper body is about parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight, head slightly up, and let the bar hang at arm’s length below you, almost touching the shinbone. This is the starting position.

Using primarily the muscles of the back, lift the bar upward until it touches your lower abdominals, then lower it again, under control, back to the starting position; then immediately go into your next rep.

Make sure your first set of any rowing exercise is relatively light to let your back get warmed up. By the time you get to your last set, a little bit of cheating is all right to get you through it, but keep it to a minimum.

The great Lee Priest demonstrates the Bent Over Barbell Row below: