Are Barbell Rows Important Exercises?

Are Barbell Rows Important Exercises?

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Rows work the back and shoulder muscles in one fluid motion.

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Your exercise choices go a long way in determining how effective your fitness efforts will be. Selecting exercises that are best suited for your goals and strength level is incredibly important, especially for weight training. Take into consideration the muscles you want to work, the form of motion you want to reinforce and whether that motion needs to translate to athletic performance. Lifts like the barbell row are important for meeting certain goals.

Bent-Over Barbell Row

The barbell row is a simple two-part motion that mimics the motion of rowing oars in a boat. The main difference is that, unlike the position of a rower who is seated upright, the barbell row is performed while bent over, or while lying supine on a flat or incline weight bench. The first phase of the bent-over row begins with your arms outstretched toward the floor as you bend over, while you grip the weighted barbell with an overhand or mixed grip. Pull the barbell toward your chest as far as you can. Hold the weight there for a second or two and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

Muscles Worked

The bent-over and the lying barbell rows primarily target the back and areas of the deltoids, respectively. Either version of the barbell row also engages the middle and lower portions of the trapezius muscles, parts of the deltoids and the biceps. When performing the bent-over version where you stand and lean over, the exercise also brings in the obliques, gluteals and hamstrings to provide support through both phases of the row.

Best Uses

The barbell row is obviously important for competitive crew team members, but the move is also effective for a range of other athletic endeavors. The exercise improves strength and speed for numerous upper-body actions like throwing a ball, handling a puck with a hockey stick, doing functional motions for martial arts or competitive fighting and a host of other activities. The exercise is also a useful back-focused lift that you can use to target the lats while engaging numerous stabilizers throughout the body.

Barbell Row Variations

While the most common variation of the bent-over row involves use of a barbell, you could also perform the exercise one arm at a time using a dumbbell or kettlebell. This version often requires the support of a flat weight bench. Other variations include the upright barbell row, which is similar to the high pull. For this version, stand upright with your back straight and pull the barbell up from your waist to your chest.