Barbell Row Basics
By Grant Broggi, SSC
The Barbell Row is a basic barbell movement that can be a great assistance exercise to add into your training. It is most useful if you have already have a strong deadlift and have progressed enough so that you now need a lighter “pull” day to allow for recovery.
I add in the barbell row for most lifters after they have been training for a few months and their deadlift has become stressful enough to make the switch.
Just like all barbell movements there is a right and a wrong way to execute them, so today we’ll demonstrate how to correctly perform the barbell row to get the most out of your training.
There are a few barbell row variations but the one we will teach you today begins off the floor for each rep. There is another popular variation where the barbell never rests on the floor (is kept at the hang position between reps) and it is referred to as the “Pendlay Row”.
While it can be useful, for the general strength trainee I prefer to teach the barbell row from the floor which allows more weight to be lifted and mimics the deadlift more closely.
For the barbell row to be useful it must be trained at a heavy-enough weight. Light barbell rows have no place in your training if the goal is to assist and continue to build your deadlift.
Do not let grip be a limiting factor for weight selection, I recommend that you use straps to ensure you are able to properly set your back and execute the movement.
If you are executing the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression then the barbell row can be alternated with the deadlift every other workout once your deadlift is over your bodyweight and a half.
Having a coach help you introduce assistance exercises into your training is recommended.