Believe the bent over barbell row is only an upper back exercise?
1930s training pioneer Mark H. Berry tells a different story.
Walk into your friendly neighborhood fitness center, and you will commonly see machines designed to isolate particular muscle groups. Here, your local gymnasium will have specific apparatus which targets the lats, the delts, the biceps, and the forearms, etc. - all worked independently of one another. Yet what if there was a more effective way of getting stronger? What if - as history shows - there is a faster way to build power and strength than an entire battalion of isolation exercises?
And this radical approach was championed by a weight training pioneer as long ago as the 1930s.
Mark H. Berry understood the importance of basic, multiple joint exercises, and considered compound movements like the bent over barbell row crucial to muscular gains.
How effective were Berry's methods?
Championing this approach, Berry was to coach the US weight training team to double Olympics success.
Can Berry's methods do the same for you?
1. More Bang For Your Bodybuilding Buck.
The bent over barbell row not only targets your lats (lattisimus dorsi), but simultaneously works the biceps muscles of the upper arm and all the flexor-related forearm muscles. What else?
While you are bent over at the waist, you can expect to target your wrists, elbows and shoulders, along with your abdominal muscles, hips and thighs.
Indeed, so effective is the barbell bent over row for the typical trainee, that it will work your body from one fingertip to the other! The benefits to you? More bang for your bodybuilding buck.
2. Practice Perfect Form.
The basic barbell bent over row is performed with the upper body bent parallel to the floor, and usually with a shoulder wide grip. To reduce strain on your lower back, try to keep your back arched throughout the exercise, and once in position, pull the barbell up to the waist area and lower it under strict control.
Avoid letting the barbell swing. Instead use your upper back muscles as the driver. Also, just like the strongmen of the 30s, don't be afraid to experiment.
Try to find the style of row that best suits you, by using different hand placements - for example, some people can work their lats best by using a close grip, while others benefit with a wide grip bent over row.
3. Hand Grip Tricks.
In addition to experimenting with your hand placement, consider alternating your hand grip when rowing. For example, the grip can be either palms down (the pressing grip) or palms up (the curling grip).
Want to keep your form strict while learning the barbell bent over row for the first time? Practice perfect rowing form by keeping the forehead placed on a comfortable waist-high bench.
This is a good way to learn how to do the bent over row without yanking the bar and putting your lower back at risk.
4. Bent Over Row Variation.
Do you have a "dodgy" lower back? For added rowing exercise variation, consider the high bench barbell row.
This excellent bent over row variation targets the upper back muscles while safeguarding a problem area for many trainees.
To perform the high bench row, get a bench sufficiently high so that when you are face down on it, and holding a loaded bar with arms stretched, the barbell plates don't quite touch the floor. Rowing from this face down position, means you can't heave the bar up using loose form - the benefit to you? Your lower back is safely protected.
5. Take a Deep Breath.
The strongmen of the 30s and 40s were keen advocates of deep breathing when weight training.
What results can you expect to see? Heavy breathing compound exercises added over 50 lbs muscular body weight to Mark Berry's own small frame. Impressive gains which can be yours.
Believe the bent over barbell row is only an upper back exercise? Training pioneer Mark H. Berry considered compound movements like the barbell bent over row crucial to muscular gains.