Bent Over Row Workouts for Muscle, Strength and an Injury Proof Back

These Bent over Row Workouts provide you with a wide variety of training formats to test and improve your upper body strength, power and muscle building capabilities.

Bent Over Row Exercise

Bent Over Rows are an excellent full body, compound exercise that can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells or other suitable object.

Barbell Rows will strengthen your back if you use proper form. But they’ll hurt your lower back if you do them with bad form. Don’t Barbell Row with your lower back rounded. Don’t over-arch it either by hyper-extending your lower spine.

Bent Over Row Muscles Worked

Bent Over Rows work your upper-back, lower back, hips and arms.

They build a stronger, muscular back and bigger biceps. Barbell Rows are one of the most effective assistance exercises you can do to increase your Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.

Bent Over Row Form

Here’s how to Barbell Row with proper form:

  1. Stand with your mid-foot under the bar (medium stance)
  2. Bend over and grab the bar (palms down, medium-grip)
  3. Unlock your knees while keeping your hips high
  4. Lift your chest and straighten your back
  5. Pull the bar against your lower chest
  6. Return the bar to the floor. Breathe. Straighten your back, take a big breath, hold it. Then do your next rep.

Bent Over Row Barbell Training Tips

Bar over mid-foot

Setup with the bar over your mid-foot like when you Deadlift. This is your balance point. The most effective way to Barbell Row the weight from the floor to your chest is in a vertical line over this balance point.

If the bar starts over your forefoot it will pull you forward and out of balance. Or it will move back over your mid-foot and hit your knees. If the bar is too close to your shins, it will scrape your shins.

Straight Wrists

Keep your wrists straight when you Barbell Row. Wrap your thumbs around the bar using the full grip. Squeeze it hard until your knuckles turn white. Lock your wrists in position so you have a straight line from your elbows to your wrists to the bar.

Don’t let your wrists bend back or they’ll hurt. If your wrists bend, your grip is loose. If it isn’t, the weight is too heavy and you’re cheating by doing T-rex rows.

Full Grip

Wrap your thumbs around the bar. You can squeeze the bar harder when you use the full grip. The harder you squeeze the bar, the less it can move in your hands. Squeezing the bar also contracts your arms and shoulders more.

It engages more muscles. It makes the weight easier to Barbell Row. The thumbless grip may help you “feel” the exercise better. But it’s not effective for doing heavy Barbell Rows.

Medium Grip

Barbell Row with your grip narrower than on the Bench Press but wider than on the Deadlift. Gripping the bar wider like when you Bench Press makes the weight easier to Barbell Row.

A wide grip shortens the range of motion by putting your arms incline. But it also drops your torso and can put it below horizontal to the floor. If you have short arms, a wide grip can cause your lower back to round when you Barbell Row.

Narrow Grip if Your Back Rounds

If your lower back rounds, narrow your grip when you Barbell Row. This puts your arms more vertical to the floor. It raises your torso and keeps it horizontal to the floor.

The weight will be harder to Barbell Row because the range of motion is longer. But your back will be safer. Narrow your stance so your legs don’t push against your arms when you pull the weight from the floor.

Bent Over Row Dumbbell

The Bent Over Row can also be done with other objects such as Dumbbells. Follow the same technique principles as outlined above.

Bent Over Row Kettlebell

What is the Pendlay Row?

Invented by USA Weightlifting Coach Glenn Pendlay, this row variation specifically targets back strength and muscular development for pulling movements, such as snatches, cleans, and deadlifts. Additionally, the strict form of this row reinforces better form, carrying over to weightlifting-specific movements and pulls.

Bent Over Row Workouts

Read through these 15 Bent Over Row Workouts and pick out ones to add to your training plan.

1. WORKOUT

Four Parts in 12 minutes

EMOM for 3 minutes:

  • 15 Dumbbell Rows (2×30 lb)
  • 10 Push-Ups

EMOM for 3 minutes:

  • 10 Dumbbell Rows (2×40 lb)
  • 10 Push-Ups

EMOM for 3 minutes:

  • 5 Dumbbell Rows (2×45 lb)
  • 10 Push-Ups

Then, AMRAP in 3 minutes:

  • Dumbbell Rows (2×30 lb)

Perform the entire workout with a running clock. No rest between sections. Score is total number of dumbbell rows completed in the final 3-minute AMRAP section of the workout.

2. WORKOUT

AMRAP in 15 minutes

  • 5 Pendlay Rows (95/65 lb)
  • 10 Strict Curls (65/45 lb)
  • 15 Push-Ups

On a 15-minute clock, perform as many rounds and repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed before the 15-minute clock stops.

Movement Standard

Pendlay Row: This is a variation of the Bent Over Row.

You and can alter this further. Instead of using a hip-width grip, hold the Barbell using a Snatch grip.

3. ASGARD STRENGTH

AMRAP in 19 minutes

From 0:00-8:00, EMOM of:

  • 2 Asgard Complexes (2×20/16 kg)*

Rest 3 minutes

From 11:00-19:00, AMRAP of:

  • Asgard Complexes (2×20/16 kg)*

*1 Asgard Kettlebell Complex consists of: 1 Dead Curl, 1 Strict Press, 1 Bent Over Row, 1 Left Renegade Row, 1 Right Renegade Row, and 1 Deadlift

Every minute on the minute perform two repetitions of the Asgard strength complex and rest for the remainder of the minute, start again on the next minute, and so on. Three minutes rest, then perform the Asgard strength complex for as many reps as possible.

Scoring

Every two reps of the complex competed within the minute for task 1 counts as 1 point add the total of complex reps from task 2.

Scaling

For Beginners, work with one kettlebell. Replace the renegade rows with a row and scale the weight to 12/8 kg.

4. ARM KILLER WORKOUT

2 Rounds for Reps in 40 minutes

  • Tabata Curls (2×5/2.5 lb)
  • Tabata Strict Presses (2×5/2.5 lb)
  • Tabata Bent Over Rows (2×5/2.5 lb)
  • Tabata Side Lateral Raises (2×5/2.5 lb)
  • Tabata Front Lateral Raises (2×5/2.5 lb)

During rest, hold the weight in a static position.

With 10 Tabata cycles, perform the prescribed movements in the order written. Tabata is 20-second work and 10-second rest. During the work, perform as many repetitions as possible of the movement, and during rest, hold the weight in a static position.

Score is the total number of repetitions completed before the 40-minute clock stops.

5. WORKOUT

20 minute EMOM

  1. 30 seconds bent over row
  2. 30 seconds back squat
  3. 30 seconds shoulder press
  4. 30 seconds deadlift

Select your own weights.

6. WORKOUT

4 Rounds in 20 minutes

Minute 1:

  • 45 seconds Seated Strict Presses (20/14 lb)
  • 15 seconds Rest

Minute 2:

  • 45 seconds Sit-Ups to Push Presses (20/14 lb)
  • 15 seconds Rest

Minute 3:

  • 45 seconds Bent Over Rows (20/14 lb)
  • 15 seconds Rest

Minute 4:

  • 45 seconds Push-Ups
  • 15 seconds Rest

Minute 5:

  • 45 seconds Mountain Climbers
  • 15 seconds Rest

Repeat 4 times

On a 20-minute clock (or using a 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off Tabata-style timer if you have one) perform as many repetitions as possible of the prescribed workout for 45 seconds and rest 15 seconds.

Athlete will perform five different movements every minute for 4 rounds. Use a Medicine Ball or any available weighted object.

Score is the total repetitions completed before the 20-minute clock stops.

Tips and Strategy

Try and keep consistent with reps for the 4 rounds. Athlete’s numbers shouldn’t go from 25 Seated Strict Presses in the first round to 10 Seated Strict Presses in the last round.

7. WORKOUT

For Time

Buy-In:

  • 3 Devil Presses (2×50/35 lb)
  • 37 Double-Unders

Directly into, 4 Rounds of:

  • 29 Sit-Ups
  • 20 Double Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)

Buy-Out:

  • 4 Devil Presses (2×50/35 lb)
  • 23 Dumbbell Rows (2×50/35 lb)
  • 600 metre Run

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Athlete must accomplish the buy-in of 3 Devil Presses and 37 Double-Unders before moving on to 4 rounds of 29 Sit-Ups and 20 Double Dumbbell Deadlifts. To complete the workout, perform the buy-out of 4 Devil Presses, 23 Dumbbell Rows, and 600 metre Run.

Score is the time on the clock when the 600 metre Run is completed.

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8. WORKOUT

AMRAP in 21 minutes

  • 3 Squat Cleans (135/95 lb)
  • 6 Thrusters (135/95 lb)
  • 9 Bent Over Rows (135/95 lb)
  • 15 Push-Ups
  • 18 Russian Twists (25/15 lb)
  • 21 calorie Assault Air Bike

9. RAGNORAK

For Total Reps in 38 minutes

In 6 minutes, perform:

Kettlebell Half UKC* + Halo (12/8 kg)

Rest 2 minutes

2 Rounds of The Pace Maker:

  • 30 seconds of Left-Arm Kettlebell Swings (16/12 kg)
  • 30 seconds of Right-Arm Kettlebell Swings (16/12 kg)
  • 30 seconds of Left-Arm Kettlebell Snatches (16/12 kg)
  • 30 seconds of Right-Arm Kettlebell Snatches (16/12 kg)
  • 30 seconds of Left-Arm Kettlebell Overhead Reverse Lunges (16/12 kg)
  • 30 seconds of Right-Arm Kettlebell Overhead Reverse Lunges (16/12 kg)

Rest 2 minutes

Then, in 8 minutes, perform:

  • Max Strength Kettlebell Complexes** (2×16/12 kg)

Rest 4 minutes

  • Finally, in 10 minutes, 3 attempts for Power of:
  • Max Double Kettlebell Half Snatches (2×16/12 kg)

*1 UKC consists of: 1 Deadlift, 1 Hang Clean, 1 Power Clean, 1 Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing, 1 Snatch, 1 Strict Press

**1 Strength Kettlebell Complex consists of: 1 Curl, 1 Strict Press, 1 Bent Over Row, 1 Push-Up

You have 10 minutes for 3 attempts at max total double kettlebell half snatches. ON your first attempt, don’t go all out as you know that you’ll have 2 more attempts to come.

Half snatches are where the kettlebell is snatched up overhead and then dropped into racking before the next rep.

Scoring

The only task that is scored are the double kettlebell snatches. The reps of all three attempts are added and used as the final total score for this WOD.

Warm-Up

2 minutes of:

  • Air Squats
  • Hip Hinges
  • Alternating Reverse Lunges

Scaling

UKC: Replace the snatch with clean and push press.

The Pace Maker: Replace full snatches with half snatches or clean and push press. Replace overhead reverse lunge with racked reverse lunges

Strength: Replace double bell work with single and repeat the sequence on both sides

Power: Replace double bell work with single and repeat the sequence on both sides

Beginner option for the final task is single kettlebell work with only one switch per attempt.

10. WORKOUT

10 rounds

  • 8 Bench Press
  • 8 Bent Over Row
  • 8 Thrusters

Choose your own weight.

11. WORKOUT

10 Rounds for Time

  • 5 Strict Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
  • 10 “X” Dumbbell Movement (70/50 lb)
  • 15 GHD Sit-Ups

Round 1 – Dumbbell Push Press

Round 2 – Dumbbell Burpees

Round 3 – Dumbbell Power Cleans

Round 4 – Dumbbell Bench Press

Round 5 – Dumbbell Lunge Steps

Round 6 – Dumbbell Front Squats

Round 7 – Dumbbell Bent Over Rows

Round 8 – Alternating Dumbbell Snatches

Round 9 – Dumbbell Deadlifts

Round 10 – Dumbbell Thrusters

For each of the 10 rounds, perform 10 repetitions of the corresponding dumbbell movement. For example, in round one, after completing the 5 strict chest-to-bar pull-ups, complete 10 dumbbell

push presses, then 15 GHD sit-ups. The following round complete 5 strict chest-to-bar pull-ups, then 10 dumbbell burpees, then 15 GHD sit-ups. Continue in this way for all 10 rounds.

Build Explosive power with the Dumbbell Swing

12. BENT OVER ROW WORKOUT

75 Single Arm DB Strict Press

*After every 15 reps perform 10 DB Row

75 KB Swing

*After every 15 perform 15 Push-ups

Perform 75 DB Strict Press-switch off every 5 reps per arm

Finish the Strict Press first

Then:

Perform 75 KB Swing with the Push ups every 15 reps

Recommended Weight 35/20# DB’s & 53/35# KB

13. WORKOUT

For Time, with a partner

  • 150 Double Unders
  • 100 Bench Press (135/95)
  • 100 Pendlay Row (115/75)
  • 100 Double Unders
  • 50 Bench Press
  • 50 Pendlay Row
  • 50 Double Unders

Score is time it takes to complete the chipper.

Split the work any way, as long as each athlete completes at least one rep of each movement per round.

14. BENT OVER ROW WORKOUT

Buy In: 3x Rounds of;

  • 40 Bent Over Rows with Shoulder Shrugs
  • 30 Renegade Rows
  • 20 Pendlay Rows
  • 10 Burpee Closed Grip Row

Then

AMRAP: 15 Mins

Single Dumbbell Pendlay Row Deadlift High Pull Clean & Jerk

* Do Right side Unbroken, left side Unbroken, repeat

* Score = Amount of Rounds in 15 Mins

* 1 Single Side = 1 Round

15. BENT OVER ROW PARTNER WORKOUT

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 65 Front Squats (135/95 lb)
  • 65 Kettlebell Swings (72/54 lb)
  • 16 Partner Over Burpees
  • 400 metre Run
  • 65 Hang Power Cleans (135/95 lb)
  • 65 Single Arm Kettlebell Presses (54/34 lb)
  • 16 Partner Over Burpees
  • 400 metre Run
  • 65 Chest to Bar Pull-Ups
  • 65 Box Jumps (30/24 in)
  • 16 Partner Over Burpees
  • 400 metre Run
  • 65 Push-Ups
  • 65 Pendlay Barbell Rows (135/95 lb)
  • 16 Partner Over Burpees

Each partner wears a Weight Vest (20/14 lb)

One partner works at a time. Complete the work in the order written. Partition the repetitions between partners as needed.

Want to also build a stronger lower body? Check out these Reverse Dumbbell Lunge Workouts, Ruck Runs or Broad Jump Exercises.