Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

You have an almost endless number of exercises available to you every time you go to the gym. It is incredibly useful to know the benefits of each exercise as well as the effects it has on your performance. A movement that has many variations.

The Row

A Row is essentially a reverse Bench Press. Your upper body pulls the load, not pushes it. There are many variations to this basic description. Rows have become more popular over the years and are now part of many workout routines. STACK compared eight popular Row exercises in order to determine the pros and cons. Which row is best for you?

Bent-Over Barbell Rows

Bent Over Barbell Row is an ancient exercise that can be used to build strength and mass. It is a favorite of famous bodybuilders such as Ronnie Coleman or Arnold Schwarzenegger and top teams like Maryland Lacrosse incorporate it into their workouts.

The Bent-Over Barbell Row, also known as anti-flexion, requires that your lower back keep your torso upright. This exercise is great for strengthening your lower back and stabilizing it. There is a positive correlation between the Deadlift and this Row position.

If done correctly, Bent-Over Barbell rows are great. The poor form includes poor hip hinges, incorrect weight distribution, and improper tempo. Also, lifting with a flexed back is a common problem. Bent-Over barbell rows might not be the best way to begin if you are new to Row exercises.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows differ from the Bent-Over Barbell Row or the Seated Cable Row. These rows are single-arm and performed with a dumbbell. You can do them either standing or supported by a bench. They are used by athletes like Antonio Gates in their routines. Single-arm dumbbell rows do a fantastic job of targeting the back as well as the core.

Every time you lower the dumbbell, your torso must remain stable. You are training your core to resist rotation. Single-arm Dumbbell rows allow you to concentrate on form and build your back equally. This reduces the chance of muscle imbalances.

Single-arm dumbbell rows have some drawbacks. Because they challenge your core and require you to lift with only one arm, Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows are likely to be lighter than other types. Another common problem is that athletes tend to twist their torsos at the top of the movement in order to generate momentum. However, this can be fixed by using a lighter weight and a flatter back.

Inverted Rows

The Inverted Row requires that you fight gravity to lift yourself up to a fixed height. This is a great exercise to strengthen your back and make it wider. Inverted Rows can be a great exercise for the whole body. Inverted Rows require core strength and glute strength to keep your body in a perfect position as you move through the movement.

Inverted Rows will help you control your body weight while in motion, which is the essence of sports performance. Inverted Rows can cause extra pressure on your wrists, shoulders, and elbows if you pull yourself up high enough. You can avoid this by placing a small pad on the bar, or pulling yourself to within 3-4 inches from the bar at the top.

Cable Rows Seated

Seated Cable Rows are performed with a cable machine instead of a barbell. They are performed in a seated position, which is different from other Row variations. Seated Cable Rows are used by athletes like Terrell Owens and programs like UNC Baseball. Owens uses a resistance band.

Seated Cable Rows may be more beneficial than Bent-Over Barbell Rows if you have problems with your hip hinge or lower-back strength. Seated Cable Rows position you in a stable upright posture, which allows you to focus on strengthening your scapulae rather than your lower back.

Athletes tend to be in a very stable posture with their torso up, so Cable Rows can be great for learning how the scapulae are used to pull a weight. Cable Rows can be performed in many different ways if you prefer to get up from a seated position to move. Cable Rows are a great option because of their simplicity and creativity, but they don’t build lower-back strength as Bent-Over Barbell Rows.

TRX Rows

TRX Rows can be compared to Inverted Rows. However, they are performed with TRX straps and not a stationary bar. The TRX isn’t a fixed tool, so it takes extra effort to ensure stability. To maintain proper posture during the movement, your core and glutes will need to work harder.

Because TRX Rows allow you to better control your weight, difficulty, and movement, they are great for back problems. TRX Rows have been proven to be effective in working the back, core, and glutes simultaneously.

TRX Rows also have the added benefit of allowing you to change the difficulty of your movement simply by moving forward or backward. The more you move your feet forward, it becomes more difficult. The exercise will be easier if you move your feet forward. To make it more difficult, you can add a medball to the exercise, as Kevin Durant did.

TRX Rows have one drawback: they limit how much weight you can add to your body. While this will make you stronger and more muscular over a longer period of time, you’ll eventually need to work out to maintain significant gains.

Chest-Supported Rows

Chest-Supported Rows put you in a belly-down position on an incline bench. To perform a Row, you will use two dumbbells. This position is more comfortable than standing and it’s a great way to start learning the Row movement. If you want to focus on your upper back (and just your upper back) Chest-Supported Rows get the job done.

Because they are supported, Chest-Supported rows don’t provide a lot of value. While other Row exercises target your lower back, upper back and glutes while Chest-Supported rows only your upper back. You’ll see more results if you have the energy and time to do other variations. If you have lower back issues and need to target your upper back then Chest-Supported rows are the right choice.

Meadows Row

You may not have heard about Meadows Rows but they are definitely worth your attention. Professional bodybuilder and C.S.C.S. inventor John Meadows invented them. John Meadows created the unique single-arm row using a barbell landmine. Meadows Rows can be used to carry a heavier weight than traditional Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows.

Meadows Rows are quick and easy to load. The barbell’s end is thicker than the dumbbell handle so they can also help you improve your grip. Meadows Rows are great for pumping, but those with lower-back injuries or a history of injury to the lower back might be better off staying away. Because they require one-arm Rows, heavy Rows can place a lot of torque on the lower back. Meadows Rows is a great option for those with a strong core and healthy lower back.

Rows with Straight Ends

Upright Rows place you in a standing upright position. With a tight grip, you pull a dumbbell or barbell from below your waist up to the top of one’s chest. Upright rows target your traps, lats, and upper arms. They are something you may have seen at your gym, or maybe you’ve done them yourself. However, you shouldn’t include them in your workout.

They can put your shoulder in a dangerous position that could lead to injury. The risk is greater than the reward. Your shoulder will be in an impinged place. Upright Rows’ movement is very similar to the Hawkins Test. This test allows doctors to place the shoulder in an impingement position and measure for pain. You can also do other things to make your traps.

Shoulder impingement is a common cause of pain in the shoulders. It occurs when the bony portion of your shoulder, the acromion, rubs against the bursa sac and shoulder tendon, causing inflammation and pain. While Upright Rows may build trap strength and lat strength for some, safer options like Deadlifts are better.

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