Barbell Bent Over Row Tutorial

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Before I get to the real reason you clicked on today’s post, I have two tidbits of exciting news.

1. It’s been announced that (director) Paul Greengrass and (star) Matt Damon are going to be making another Jason Bourne movie, slated for release sometime in 2016. So, ladies, you can have the limelight and enjoy your 50 Shades of of Grey movies….for now. But soon Bourne is coming to kick some sadomasochistic movie going ass!

2. It’s official: the flights are booked, Lisa and I are going to Australia!!!!

I’ve alluded to this trip sporadically the past few months, and final details are still a few days away, but here’s what I can tell you:

Tw0-Day Because Heavy Things Won’t Lift Themselves Workshop in Ballina, NSW located at Raw Fitness and Sports Training, March 7-8.

One-Day Because Heavy Things Won’t Lift Themselves Workshop in Sydney on Friday, March 13…location still to be determined.

I’ll be sure to let everyone know – soon! – all the nitty gritty details (costs, itinerary, final locations, whether or not I’ll try some kangaroo?) within the next week.

Barbell Bent Over Row Tutorial

I’m a huge fan of the barbell bent over row. Not only for the obvious reason(s) – it helps build a yoked up upper back! – but also because as an accessory movement I feel it’s a superb movement which compliments the deadlift.

You see, I think a lot of trainees have it wrong when it comes to their accessory movements.

Many (not all) kind of haphazardly toss some random exercises into their program because they’re hard or because they make them hate life. Which is fine! I like to see people working hard in the gym.

For me, however, the accessory movements you place into a program should serve a deeper purpose. For instance I’m a strength guy. And as such I place a premium on movements like the squat, bench press, and deadlift. You know, movements that get people strong.

Accessory movements, then, shouldn’t be placed into a program just cause. If that’s the case why not place a bunch of names of exercises onto a dart board and leave your programming to chance?

Instead accessory movements should address some form of technique flaw or weakness you have with one of the major lifts. That’s training with purpose!

Today I’d like to share some insights on the bent over barbell row. In the video below I’ll discuss some of the major reasons why I like this exercise as well as delve into more of the nuances of how to perform it correctly.

Look for the video-bomb by Effie the dog towards the tail-end. I was scared things were going to turn into a some sort of viral video”dog gets killed because strength coach drops weights on it” scenario.

WHEW – that was close.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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  • CJ Cleary

    Great points Tony, I agree about unracking the bar from the rack, it’s always felt weird and never quite got why people felt the need to do a row like that.

    I’ve always used Pendlay rows but I like starting the inch off the floor more, it feels better for my height (6’4″).

    I can’t wait to see how switching to this way all the time will help with my deadlift performance.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks CJ!

  • Question: I notice you engage the lats (I have used the squeeze the orange cue to great success) and start in a position similar to a deadlift. I must admit I use the standard pendlay row format. Do you cue retracting the scaps as you pull the bar up to the chest?

    • TonyGentilcore

      Pendlay Row is going to be slightly different in that there’s more ROM in both protraction and you’ll actually move yourself into a more upright position AS you retract. Bret Contreras did an awesome video on row variations not too long ago. Might be something to check out.

      • That makes complete sense. I will definitely check the video out. Thanks Tony.

  • Adam Noll

    Tony, you gotta try kangaroo! Do it for me! And then describe it in one of your posts so I can live vicariously through you.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I’m not an adventurous eater by any stretch, but I kinda feel like if I’m going to go all the way to Australia I need to try it.

  • Chris

    Ok, as an Australian: welcome. I think you will fit right in – we also have a sense of humour (unlike certain countries…) and you are going to a beautiful part of the country.
    Here is my suggestion – you are going to the Ballina/Byron Bay area, the traditional ‘heart’ of Australian surfing culture (and hippy culture). So take a surfing lesson (optional yoga).
    You want to see how mobility and flexibility and strength and balance and all the rest pan out in ‘the real world’, while having more fun than you can imagine (standing up on the board for the first time will make you happier than a 600lb deadlift*). In beautiful conditions on the water facing the never ending challenge of the ocean? And, not only that, you can get some additional cool points back home claiming to be a surfer and saying ‘stoked’ a lot!
    Honestly, give it a go – you can line up a 2-3 hour lesson one morning (usually lessons start at 7 or 8am to avoid the wind), wetsuit and board will be provided and there are heaps of surf schools around where you will be. The only downside is that you will enjoy it so much you will want to move away from Boston to California.
    (*may not make you happier, but probably at least as happy)
    (oh, and kangaroo as a meal is pretty easily available, even our largest supermarkets stock roo meat in their regular meat aisle. Pretty gamey but I like it. Indeed, you need to try a ‘kanga banga’ (kangaroo sausage; ‘banga’ is a colloquialism for sausage)

    • TonyGentilcore

      Chris –

      Thanks soooo much for the suggestion. I’ve been told by numerous people that Ballina is a beautiful area and I can’t wait to see it! Getting me into the ocean may be a bit of challenge though. My fiance, Lisa, is from Florida and LOVES the ocean. She may be more apt to hop on a surf board than myself.

      Then again, you only live once right?

  • Nicola Lait

    Great article! I’ve been doing my rows from just below the knee so will try from an inch above the ground and see how I get on. Guessing I’ll find it quite a bit more challenging! Great to hear you’re coming to Australia. I live in New Zealand but will try to convince the husband that we need to go on a wee trip to Aussie as I’d love to go one of the seminars 🙂

    • TonyGentilcore

      Doing them from the height you’re currently doing them isn’t “wrong.” Just different.

      The idea is that if you’re trying to improve your DL, I feel this way is the more appropriate fit.

      Would LOVE to see you come to one of my workshops in Australia. If you come, you have to bring me a LoTR souvenir….;o)

      • Nicola Lait

        Hubby sounds quite keen for Ballina so hopefully we can make it work! Will defs see what I can do re LoTR souvenir 🙂 Will you be releasing the details soon? Flights are quite cheap at the moment but just want to check that it will be feasible for both of us to do before booking.

        • TonyGentilcore

          Nicola…..will be posting up some details today. In like an hour actually, check back in a bit!

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  • Jake

    Hey Tony, you and Eric may be interested in checking out this new attachment from Black Widow Training Gear: http://www.blackwidowtg.com/Multi_Grip_Landmine_Row_Handle_p/landmine-multi-grip.htm

    It’s for the landmine, and is very similar to the traditional “T-bar row” with the V handle, but allows for a more natural wider neutral grip, so similar to the bent over row, but a bit more “joint friendly” for folks like me who find the barbell uncomfortable. Check it out!

    • TonyGentilcore

      That’s pretty cool! Thanks for pointing that one out to me!

  • Nick

    Hi Tony, if someone experiences lower back fatigue and lower back stiffness/pain after this exercise, what would you suggest is the limiting factor? I’m guessing the core isn’t firing enough or that perhaps I’m lowering the weight too far and losing back tightness?

    • TonyGentilcore

      I’d say bracing abs. Try to do a better job of bracing abs and CONTINUE to brace throughout the set.

  • Shane Mclean

    You better not eat kangaroo, I might dis own you. Seriously. Never thought of the bent over row as an accessory movement for the dead lift. Now i do. Good work Tony.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I don’t WANT to eat kangaroo, but I know Lisa – who’s a more adventurous eater than I – will pretty much force me to try it…..;o)

      • Shane Mclean

        She will? Tell her is is the equivalent of an American eating a bald eagle. Kangaroo is on our national coat of arms. That’s why i refuse to eat it.

        • TonyGentilcore

          Ahhhh, I see. Maybe I’m wrong in assuming that it’s something that’s offered in restaurants???

          • Shane Mclean

            I’m sure it’s offered. People like it. It’s a very lean cut of meat. I just refuse to eat it. I’m just getting on your case a little 🙂

  • Euan

    Hi Tony,

    Great news on the Sydney seminar – any idea when you expect to finalise details?
    I live in Bondi so if you need any recommendations/ suggestions for what to do / where to eat etc in Sydney (non-touristy) then I’d be only too happy to help?
    Look forward to seeing you in Sydney.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Euan –

      Will be posting up the details shortly. And, I’d LOVE any suggestions for Sydney. I think Lisa and I plan to fly to Sydney (from Ballina) on Monday, March 9th and spend the week there leading up to the Sydney Workshop on March 14th.

      We were looking into hotels in the Quay or City Center area. I know Lisa wants to check out some wine country and I’m sure we’ll want to hit up some fancy schmancy restaurants while there.

      • Euan

        Hi Tony,

        here are some recommendations (more for Bondi !!). I’m sure others would have some similar/some different..

        Things to see in the Sydney City

        Opera House & Botanical Gardens
        MCA – contemporary art gallery in the Rocks.
        Bridge Walk (some comments have been that the safety brief is longer than the walk..)
        Centerpoint Tower for views views and more views..
        QVB–beautiful old shopping centre/building

        Places to Eat
        Most cheap/quick food in the city centre is to be found in the ‘food halls’
        The best quality foodhall is in the Westfield below Centerpoint Tower (Pitt Street
        Mall). The Mexican is good (owned by an American), so is the Turkish grill and the paleo ‘inspired’ place Thrive.

        Another good place is Chat Thai – freshly cooked Thai food in the food hall below the Citibank building cnr George Street & Park Street – opposite the QVB.. Cash only. On the street level (2 doors down from the Citibank) is a little hole in the wall
        coffee joint – Workshop Espresso. Consistently one of Sydney’s best coffee
        spots.

        For Bondi (in march the water will be warm so plan to swim)

        http://www.icebergs.com.au

        Icebergs Pool – this is open to the public and has one of the best views in Sydney. If
        you go for a swim you also get access to the sauna. There is a great little café
        on the pool level (there is another café on the street level which has great
        views as well. You will see this if you do the walk below)

        Bondi to Bronte walk
        Starts at Icebergs and follows the cliff walk around to Bronte Beach. Beautiful walk. Takes approx 1hr there and back

        Bucket List Bar ‘on’ Bondi beach – next to the Pavilion. Best on Sat/Sun afternoons after a day at the beach.

        http://www.northbondifish.com.au/
        casual but good seafood at the north end of Bondi beach

        Messina Gelato Hall Str Bondi beach
        2min walk from Campbell Parade (past a couple of other gelato places). Thought
        by many to be the best gelato in Sydney with flavours such as Coconut Lycee, Pear and Rhubarb, Salted caramel etc..

        Da Orazio Pizza e Porchetta (down the steps next to Messina).
        ‘Hot”place to eat in Sydney – although you might wonder why when you first see it.
        Food is very good. Packed with the ‘beautiful people’ at night.

        Manly Beach
        I would recommend taking the ferry from Circular Quay rather than driving – that way
        you get a harbor cruise. There are fast ferries and slow ferries. Nice day/afternoon out

        Balmoral Beach
        A 10-15min drive from the Quay. Beautiful ‘inner harbour’ beach (no waves) and has
        3 nice restaurants all on the beach. The Boathouse is on an old jetty/wharf so you are out over the water – very nice.
        Boathouse @ Balmoral Beach – http://www.theboathousebb.com.au/#about

        If you fancy a day trip you could go to Palm beach –

        http://www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-north/palm-beach?gclid=CLu9ifGtusMCFY6XvQodlVsAVw

        Hunter Valley Wineries

        http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/travel/features/10730/top-ten-hunter-valley-winerieshttp://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/travel/features/10730/top-ten-hunter-valley-wineries

        Places to Eat

        Generally eating out in Sydney is expensive – be warned…

        http://operabar.com.au/ Opera House bar

        https://rileystgarage.com.au/ – trendy place

        http://merivale.com.au/mrwong – very good Dim sums etc

        http://www.sailorsthai.com/#contact
        – Thai food in the Rocks (2min walk from the Quay). There is a dining room but
        it’s pretty expensive and a less expensive ‘Canteen’. If you’re in the Rocks
        then I would suggest the Canteen for lunch – this is Thai food a cut or two
        above 90-95% of Thai restaurants in Sydney.

        http://www.sakerestaurant.com.au/the-rocks/
        – another good place in the Rocks. Contemporary Japanese

        Some of the best (and generally most expensive ones)..

        http://www.quay.com.au/ – go for lunch as you get the view..

        http://idrb.com/ – lunch as per above (the very top level of the Icebergs pool. Not to be confused with the restaurant @ the Iceberg’s club – one level below).

        https://marquerestaurant.com.au/
        (not to be confused with Marqee which is a niteclub at the casino)

        http://www.rockpool.com/rockpoolsydney/awards/

        http://merivale.com.au/est

        Hope it helps!

        • TonyGentilcore

          Holy moley. Thanks so much for taking the time to write all of this Euan. I’ll be sure to pass this along to Lisa who’s planning our tourist itinerary.

          • Euan

            Yeah sorry Tony- got on a roll and didn’t know where to stop!

          • TonyGentilcore

            Eff that! No need to apologize at all. I showed Lisa what you wrote and she was floored. Thank you SO much for taking the time to write that. Very helpful.

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