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How To Do Bent Over Rows Correctly For Beginners

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Avoid These 6 Common Bent Over Row Mistakes

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing a step-by-step exercise demonstration tutorial on how to do bent over rows correctly for beginners.

Are you putting your body at risk by performing the bent over row incorrectly?

These specific exercise variations will show you how to safely perform one of the best exercises for a strong back.

The Best Exercise for a Strong Back

 
 
 
 
 
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The bent over row is one of the best exercises, as it not only targets your back, but when done correctly, it works your entire body.

Unfortunately many people perform the bent over row movement incorrectly, which will limit your strength and muscle gains, and more importantly, put you at risk of injury.

This step-by-step bent over row exercise tutorial includes important coaching cues for you to focus on, so you can build a strong and injury-free back.

Required Equipment For The Bent Over Row

If you have limited equipment, there are many modifications you can use to perform the bent over row.

All you need is some form of resistance.

This resistance could include:

  • Dumbbells
  • Barbell
  • Kettlebells
  • Resistance bands
  • TRX

Depending on your current strength levels, you could even use a water jug.

A bench or step can also be used, but they are optional.

Bent Over Row Exercise Variation #1: Dumbbell One Arm Row

The first bent over row exercise variation is the dumbbell one arm row.

  1. Set up a flat bench, then place a dumbbell on the floor to the side.
  2. Stand parallel to the side of the bench, then bend the leg closest to the bench to place your knee on top of it.
  3. Bend your torso forward to place your hand, on the same side as your bent knee, towards the end of the bench for balance.
  4. Make sure you have the form locked down by keeping your back flat with a neutral neck, so your waist and upper body is parallel to the floor.
  5. Think about pressing your foot through the ground, while pressing your hand through the bench, to really turn on all the muscles.
  6. Grip the dumbbell with your other hand, with your palm facing in towards your body.
  7. Contract your abs and muscles in your back, then bend your elbow to pull the dumbbell straight up to the outside of your chest, while keeping your upper arm close to your side.
  8. Under control, lower the dumbbell until your arm is fully extended, then repeat.
  9. Switch arms after your complete all your reps.

Dumbbell One Arm Row Mistake: Rounded Back

Rounding your back is a common mistake when completing bent over rows, as it can potentially cause injury.

Focus on contracting your abs and lifting your glutes up and back to keep your back and torso flat.

Dumbbell One Arm Row Mistake: Short Range Of Motion

Another common bent over row mistake is not taking the weight through a full range of motion.

The goal is to fully lengthen and shorten the muscles in your back during the bent over row.

If you can’t complete the rep with a full range of motion, the weight is too heavy for you.

Dumbbell One Arm Row Mistake: Using Momentum To Move The Weight

This is a common bent over row mistake where you use your entire body to create momentum to move the weight, rather than keeping the tension on your back muscles.

Notice how the torso is twisting rather than keeping it stationary.

Your torso should not be moving up and down to create momentum to move the weight.

The muscles in your back should be tense and contracting to move the weight, not your arms or momentum.

Bent Over Row Exercise Variation #2: Barbell Bent Over Row

The same coaching cues apply to the barbell bent over row.

  1. With a hip width stance, hold a barbell with a shoulder width overhand grip.
  2. While maintaining a flat back, bend forward at your hips, then slightly bend your knees as you lower your torso to almost parallel to the ground.
  3. Initiate the row by first contracting your back muscles, then bend your elbows, and squeeze your shoulder blades together and you pull the barbell to your chest.
  4. Make sure you keep your upper torso stationary and locked down, without using any swaying motion to move the barbell up and down.
  5. Squeeze your shoulders blades back while in the contracted position to create tension in your back, then extend your arms towards the ground by slowly lowering the barbell.
  6. Repeat for reps.

Barbell Bent Over Row Mistake: Rounded Back

Bent Over Row Exercise Variation #3: Neutral Grip Dumbbell Bent Over Row

If you don’t have access to bench, no problem.

Try this standing neutral grip dumbbell bent over row version that uses two dumbbells.

  1. With a hip width stance, hold a pair of dumbbells with a neutral palms facing in grip, arms extended, at your sides.
  2. While maintaining a flat back, bend forward at your hips, then slightly bend your knees as you lower your torso to almost parallel to the ground.
  3. Initiate the rowing movement by first contracting your back muscles, then bend your elbows, and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso.
  4. During the row, make sure you keep your torso locked close to parallel to the ground, without swaying up and down to create momentum to move the weight.
  5. Squeeze in the contracted position, then slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.

Neutral Grip Dumbbell Bent Over Row Mistake: Rounded Back

If your back is rounded like this when doing the standing bent over row, stop.

3 coaching cues to keep your back flat during the bent over row:

  1. Focus on turning on your core by flexing your abs
  2. Pull your shoulder blades back
  3. Push out you chest

If you tried all these coaching cues, but you still can’t keep your back straight during the bent over row, it may mean your lower back may not be strong enough yet to safely lock in the standing bent over row movement.

Don’t worry, try the quadruped single arm dumbbell row on the floor exercise variation.

Bent Over Row Exercise Variation #4: Head Supported Neutral Grip Dumbbell Bent Over Row

To take away any potential momentum during the standing bent over row, complete the head supported neutral grip dumbbell bent over row.

The goal is to complete the bent over row without moving your forehead off the bench.

Focus on keeping your forehead in contract with the bench at all times.

This will make sure you keep your back and torso close to parallel to the ground, without using any momentum.

  1. Set an adjustable bench to an incline position where the angle allows you to bend over to place your forehead on the top, with your back close to parallel to the floor.
  2. With a hip width stance, hold a pair of dumbbells with a neutral palms facing in grip, arms extended straight down towards the floor.
  3. While maintaining a flat back, with your forehead in contact with the bench, initiate the rowing movement by first contracting your back muscles, then bend your elbows, and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso.
  4. During the row, make sure you keep your torso locked close to parallel to the ground, while keeping your forehead in contact with the bench at all times. This will eliminate any swaying up and down to create momentum to move the weight.
  5. Squeeze your shoulders blades back while in the contracted position, then slowly straighten your arms to lower the dumbbells back towards the floor.
  6. Repeat.

Head Supported Dumbbell Bent Over Row Mistake: Too Much Torso Movement

If you notice your forehead is coming off the bench, it means you’re using momentum to move the weight, thus taking the emphasis off the back muscles.

This is usually a sign that the weight is too heavy.

Lower the weight, then focus on completing the row with the correct form.

Bent Over Row Exercise Variation #5: Quadruped Single Arm Dumbbell Row On The Floor

This exercise is also called the renegade row on knees.

If you do not have the required lower back strength to safely lock in the standing bent over row form, you can modify it, by completing the quadruped neutral grip single arm dumbbell row on the floor.

  1. While gripping a pair of dumbbells with a neutral palms facing in grip, get down on the floor with your knees planted directly under your hips, and your arms extended, shoulder width apart.
  2. To avoid rounding your back, contract your abs to maintain a flat back, while looking down at the ground to maintain a neutral neck.
  3. Lift one dumbbell by bending your elbow and rowing it towards the side of your torso as you squeeze your shoulder blade back.
  4. Focus on keeping your hips square to the ground by contracting your core as you press your stable arm through the ground to balance on the dumbbell.
  5. Under control, slowly lower the dumbbell back to the floor.
  6. Without pausing, repeat the same movement with the same arm.
  7. Complete all the reps on one arm, then switch arms and repeat.

How Often Should You Train Back?

I Tried The Rock's Back Workout With My Wife

You should be training your back with as much volume and frequency as your chest.

This is key, because the stronger your upper and middle back are, the better posture your will be.

As you probably know, your posture is the key to showing confidence.

Did You Enjoy This Bent Over Row Exercise Demonstration?

That’s it guys.

Thanks for checking out today’s video post on how to do bent over rows correctly for beginners.

Hopefully you learned a thing or two on how to train your back more effectively and safely.

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Question Of The Day:

  • Which bent over row exercise variation do you do most often?
  • Which bent over row mistake do you see most often in the gym?

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