Bent Over Barbell Rows Or Dumbbell Rows?

Row variations, aside from pull-ups, are the most crucial movements to developing your back.

Two of the most common variations are barbell rows and dumbbell rows. While both are very effective, I will not usually prescribe bent over barbell rows in any of my training programs.

The problem with barbell rows is that they require an enormous amount of neural drive and strength to maintain proper posture. To perform proper bent over rows, you have to fire your entire posterior chain, which can not only be mentally distracting, but it detracts from the strength and intensity of the lift.

This is not to say that barbell rows are not a good exercise or that loading the posterior chain is bad. But if you’re trying to train your back, why waste muscle recruitment on your lower posterior chain and do less than optimal (intensity) reps?

Besides, if you are lifting Primal style with plenty of deadlifts, squats, glute ham raises, and single-leg work (step ups, lunges, split squats), you don’t need all of the extra posterior chain loading and lower back stress.

This is why I think dumbbell rows are a far superior exercise. They offer a great range of motion, and force you to evenly load both sides of your body. Rowing a heavy dumbbell braced against the dumbbell rack or high bench,for example, will allow you to easily maintain postural integrity and get the most out of each and every rep for your back.

kroc-row-workout-kroc-row
Kroc rows are one of my favorite dumbbell variations. Brace yourself against a high bench or dumbbell rack to give yourself support while also maintaining a neutral spine.

Work in heavy dumbbell rows at least twice a week and vary your rep ranges. Your lats are made up of equal parts fast and slow twitch fibers, so varying your rep ranges to account for this, and training across a broad spectrum of rep and intensity ranges will help stimulate growth.

Read more about developing bigger lats here: How To Build Bigger Lats

All the best Primal Nation,

— Tank

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