Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: bent over row.
A “row” is a movement that simply describes drawing the arms toward and away the body. An upright row, for example, involves moving a weight up the centre of the body towards the collarbone. A renegade row involves bringing weights towards your body while in a plank position.
The bent-over row is arguably the simplest form of rowing you can do at home, and one that best targets those vital back muscles.
What exactly is a bent over row?
A bent over row is exactly what is says: standing in a bent-over position (so that your chest is facing the floor). From there, you row the weights towards your body and away, fighting gravity on the second half of the move.
It’s great because:
- It targets hard-to-reach muscles: While absolutely crucial for maintaining good posture, back muscles can be hard to target without resistance machines. This exercise, however, taps into every part of the back and shoulders.
- Doesn’t require any machines: Forget rowing machines, this move simply requires a pair of dumbbells… or milk cartons.
- Builds overall upper body strength: Because it works lots of different muscles, this compound move can increase your overall strength quicker.
What muscles does the bent over row work?
A bent over row works both upper and lower body muscles, including:
- Latissimus dorsi (side back)
- Shoulder and scapular (the bit that connects the shoulder joint to the back)
- Rhomboids (upper back)
How to do a bent over row
- Grab your weights and stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Keep the arms and back straight as you hinge from the hips to form an upside-down “L” shape with your back and legs.
- Now, bend the elbows to bring the weights up to your body. Your elbows should stay close to the body throughout the move.
- Slowly bring the weights back down by straightening the arms.
- Go again.
It’s in the eccentric part of this move – the lowering of the weights – that the magic happens so make sure that you move slowly here. Avoid flaring the elbows while bringing the weights right up to your stomach.
Keen to improve your form? Check out our How To library to see exactly how the experts do over 100 of the most common strength training exercises.
Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.