Today’s post is quick and to the point. You’re here because you want to build a bigger back and actually feel your back muscles working during bent over rows. And you’re not alone.

Most people have the tendency to pull with their arms. And while you’re obviously using your arms to a certain extent, the main emphasis of the bent over row should be on your back muscles (specifically the lats and mid traps).

Whether you’re doing them with a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, or your 6-year old…here are three simple ways to feel your back muscles during bent over rows:

  1. Pretend your hands are hooks. Your hands are merely connecting points that attach your body to the barbell or dumbbell. By pretending your hands are hooks, you’ll have a better chance of actually pulling with your back muscles (rather than your arms).
  2. “Pull” with your elbow. Initiate the pull with your elbow. Think moving your elbow(s) back first during the row. This is an absolute game changer.
  3. Squeeze your armpits. You like orange juice? Same. Pretend you have a couple oranges underneath your armpits and you’re trying to make orange juice. You’ll feel your lats light up like crazy.

Want some more reference?

Watch the two videos below (dumbbell and barbell row variations) to see exactly how you can feel your back muscles during bent over rows.

1. Bent Over Dumbbell Row

2. Bent Over Barbell Row 

Questions? Comments? Let me hear it!



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