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Pity the poor bent-over row. Often neglected in favour of saucier training variations – Pendlay rows, anyone? – it’s often done with terrible form, half-arsed at the end of a session or just ignored entirely. But for the gym-going gent, it’s a must. Not only will it balance out all the bench-pressing you’re doing – it’ll also help offset that office slump you’ve been cultivating and build you some T-shirt-filling back muscles. The secret, as with a lot of moves, is to stick to a weight you can handle with good form. Here’s how to nail it.
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Hold your torso steady throughout the move.
Once you’re set up for the move – leaning forward a bit, bar in hands – think about pulling your elbows behind you, not pulling the bar up. It’ll help to activate your lats and keep everything tight.
Most trainers will tell you that if you can’t stop at the top of each rep, you’ve picked a weight that’s too heavy. Touch the bar to your sternum, pause, and squeeze your shoulderblades together at the top of each rep. You’ll build better posture that way.
By reversing the grip, you place more of a load on your lats and lower traps.
This requires a bit more co-ordination than the barbell version and prevents the stronger side of your body doing all the work. Start with the barbells just below your knees and allow your wrists to turn naturally during the movement.
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This move uses lighter weights but produces a strong scapular retraction (the action of pulling your shoulder blades together). Keep a slight bend in your elbows, then raise the weights straight out to the sides until you reach chest height, without moving your upper body.