≡ Menu

How To Do Bent Over Barbell Rows – Video

Great lats will help you achieve the V shape that everyone wants, and I’m going to show you how to get them!

About 6 months ago I was doing my barbell rows like most people, with decent results. That changed after I purchased Jeff Willet’s DVD training series.

I was already familiar with, and was actively using, optimized form. BUT I wasn’t aware of this could possibly be applied to Barbell Rows.

When I saw Jeff do it, something clicked. I immediately ran out to the garage to crank out an optimized set;

Whoa! MAJOR difference! SO much more actual lat stimulation which lead to much better lat development.

The primary muscles worked with bent over barbell rows are the lats (latissimus dorsi).

However, the traps (trapezius) also get a great workout here. The shoulders, forearms and lower back also benefit from barbell rows.

You’ll need:

  1. Barbell
  2. Gloves (optional)
  3. Wrist straps (optional – good for heavier weights)

Check out the video…

(1) It’s best to lift the barbell off a rack, not the floor. Remember, conserving as much energy for the actual set is vital.

(2) A neutral grip works best – not too wide, not too narrow. Use ‘just-wider-than-shoulder-width’ as your default.

(3) Feet should be about shoulder-width apart.

(4) Have a slight bend at the knees and an arched back as you bend over. Keep your knees and back in this position throughout the movement.

(5) Don’t be too concerned with how low you go. Lower isn’t always better so experiment with this movement. All we want is maximum lat stimulation.

(6) Now INITIATE the rep with the lats (and shoulder blades). Contract these muscles to start the movement.

(7) Allow the torso to rise only AFTER you’ve completed the first few inches of the rep with the intended muscles alone. Do NOT swing the weight; this isn’t about creating momentum. Pay attention to the smooth, controlled motion with which I execute the exercise in the video.

(8) Raise the bar to the waist, not to the ‘belly button or higher’, which you see a lot of guys doing.

(9) Now lower the weight again with a smooth, fluid movement.

(10) Please note that if you can’t get the bar right up to your waist, you’re not getting full lat contraction – you need to decrease the weight!

When you can hit 12 reps increase the weight.

Hope that helps!


Your Buddy!

Mark McManus

P.S. To be notified immediately when I post new vids, go ahead and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Related Post

Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
He has also created the BREAKTHROUGH arm and chest maximizer programs The Arms Blast' and 'Chest Blast' workouts.
And if you're a fan of delicious high-protein recipes to fuel your muscle growth, check out his cook book 'Buff Baking' here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • will April 15, 2009, 9:38 pm

    I get questions all the time in the gym now…Why do you lift with so much movement. It’s crazy! Kinda annoying tho, but I tell them I lift weights in a natural way that you would lift other things outside of the gym. I know it’s right because for the first time I actually am progressing every work out!!

    Great video’s, keep em coming!

  • Mark McManus April 15, 2009, 9:44 pm

    lol, good for you Will. Remember to keep your logs nearby and track your progress – now that it’s happening for you!
    All the best bro.

  • Dusty April 15, 2009, 10:12 pm

    Hey Mark, I’ve been interested in your style of diet and bodybuilding for a while now and had a question. I’m about 6 foot tall and about 365 lbs. Obviously Im considered obese but am a naturally big framed and strong guy, however, I need to do something and was wondering if you felt the carb loading during the weekends would be a good idea for my case or if I should just do the low carb constantly and work out. I realize the MANS would make me lose fat regardless but was wondering if you think it would make me lose fat as fast as strictly low carb.
    Thanks alot!!!

  • Mark McManus April 15, 2009, 10:30 pm

    @Dusty. Do MANS as prescribed if you are a regular lifter. Experiment with the carb-up though. Try shortening it to 24 hours. If you want to really target fat loss check out my Total Six Pack Abs book, it’s all in there man.

  • dusty April 15, 2009, 10:55 pm

    Thanks for the quick response!! It seems like every success story I’ve read on her is from a hard gainer type or just a little overweight. Do you get very many ppl with success stories from your books that fall more in my category?? Thanks!!

  • Mark McManus April 15, 2009, 10:58 pm

    What body fat % are you Dusty?

  • dusty April 15, 2009, 11:24 pm

    I haven’t had it tested accurately but I’m 72 inches tall 21 inch neck 62 inches around my belly. Your calculator wouldn’t work on my blackberry

  • panos April 16, 2009, 3:18 am

    I recommend to do a trial of this bodyweight or with fairly light weights. During these you should feel the lats and the middle fibers of the back contracting during the positive and the stretching during the negative. Then add more resistance.

    Mark post the videos with optimized forum in the forum, in the workout/exercises section and stick them please!

  • Mark McManus April 16, 2009, 5:25 am

    @Dusty. Get your body fat tested. When you hit around 25% BF invest in TSPA. Do MANS in the meantime.
    @Panos. I’ll do that Panos, good idea. I’ll wait until I get the series completed first.

  • Yavor Marichkov April 16, 2009, 7:17 am

    I’ve relied mainly on weighted pull-ups and chin-ups to develop my lats because I never felt the barbell rows quite right.

    If did them without any raising of the body, I just couldn’t use significant weight. So again, optimized form is key…

    Plus – rows hit not only the lats, but also the mid-back and traps for not only width, but also a general all around power-look that comes from a complete upper back development.

  • Blake April 16, 2009, 12:52 pm

    Wow, I guess I was doing them all wrong. I was actually trying to keep my back slightly less bent, and very still. Basically, all wrong. I was getting decent results, though I never questioned it. I had noticed lately I was starting to hit my shoulder muscles during the exercise, which is obviously not good. I’m gonna be trying this form next week. Thanks Mark.

  • Chris April 16, 2009, 1:07 pm

    Ok – so that’s another exercise I can do way better! I’ve always had a problem feeling natural on bent rows – this helps a lot. Cheers as always Mark.

  • KeithT April 16, 2009, 4:32 pm

    I used to do the bent over rows with the back flat and straight though the entire movement – but it seemed to hit my biceps too much – I tried this motion last night and it hit my lats like no other and my biceps didn’t feel too much pump. I’ll be keeping this motion in my workouts from now on

  • Flest April 16, 2009, 11:07 pm

    Why do you raise the bar to the waist and not to the top of the abdomen?

  • Mark McManus April 18, 2009, 10:49 am

    @Blake. Don’t be too concerned about how low the back starts. There is no advantage to being dead-parallel, do what feels most comfortable to you.
    @Chris. No probs man.
    @Keith. Glad you tried it. It really does hit the lats like no other variation of barbell rows.
    @Flest. For better lat contraction, you’ll have to try both forms back to back to see what I mean.

  • sky3 October 15, 2009, 3:57 pm

    i was wondering, can you do a video on dumbbell rows????? thx