While many coaches haphazardly throw exercises into a routine because they’re painstakingly difficult it’s imperative that all exercises have a clear point and purpose.
After all, in training…
The goal is creating a physiological response to get jacked, lean, or athletic, not miserable.
In the case of the supinated barbell bent over row, a premium is placed on holding body position to get strong through the trunk while hammering the lats, rhomboids, traps, erectors, biceps, glutes, and hamstrings into hypertrophy.
Barbell bent-over rows are a great exercise to address common technique weaknesses and flaws, such as trunk stability and strength in the hinge position.
Problem is, they’re butchered all the time leading to dysfunction and injury instead of high performance gains.
In this post, I’m covering three major concerns with your bent over row that you must take into account to maximize your training and minimize the risk of injury.
Potential Issues with the Row
Rounding and Shear Stress on the Spine:
Lifters with flexion based back injuries may struggle to hold pain-free position with a loaded barbell in front of the body.
It’s essential to pull the body tight to the body, brace the abs to ensure neutral spine, and eliminate body english, to minimize problems due to shear stress.
Furthermore, be conservative programming heavy rows in conjunction with squats and deadlifts in the same workout.
Rows are great to get jacked and strong, but that’s no good if you have a mangled spine.
Program bent over rows conservatively if you have a history of flexion based back injuries.
Pulling the Body to the Bar:
Let your muscles lift the weight, not your ego. Most lifters have a tendency to excessively load the bar and end up using way too much momentum to move weight. While the intentions are good, losing position, raising the chest, flexing the spine, and doing total body convulsions to complete the lift do more harm than good.
Hold solid joint position, drop the weight a bit, and train what you mean to train!
Pulling the Elbows Too far Back:
When rowing, some lifters pull the bar too far past mid-line. While you might feel a better “squeeze” in the muscles, the humerus may migrate forward into the anterior socket of the shoulder, potentially causing impingement and dysfunction.
Rather than driving the elbows as far as possible aim to break the plane of the body, but no further if the shoulder caves forward. This way, you’ll optimize muscular recruitment for gains in strength and size without compromising the integrity of the shoulder joint.
Basically, you’ll still get jacked without harming your shoulders.
(Photo credit: Brett Contreras)
No doubt, the supinated bent over row provides some massive benefits in terms of pulling strength and hypertrophy. But, every exercise is a tool, and any tool is only as good as its use. Troubleshoot your row and ensure you’re not making errors to the detriment of your health and function.
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