What is the last impression you have of someone as you end a conversation with that person? When you say goodbye and your friend walks away you see their back before you turn and go in the opposite direction.

Now if you are a bodybuilder or aspiring to be one, you want that other person to think "Wow he is wide and huge." That means you need to train back both hard and effectively. With that said there is one movement that will help you do that well. Of course that is the Bent-Over Barbell Row.

Why The Bent-Over Barbell Row?

This exercise is a great compound movement which incorporates the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, traps, and even the biceps. It is obviously a good choice to ensure you are getting as much benefit out of your back training as possible.

A Word Of Caution

Now although this is the recommended exercise for blasting the lats, you should speak to your physician if you have a history of back problems. As good as the Bent-Over Barbell Row is, if you deal with back issues you might have to find a different way to train them so you do not get injured.

How To Do The Bent-Over Barbell Row

While holding a barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing down), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back as straight as possible until it is almost parallel to the floor. Make sure that you keep the head up. The barbell should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.

Now, while keeping the torso stationary, breathe out and lift the barbell to you. Keep the elbows close to the body and only use the forearms to hold the weight. At the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles as hard as you can and hold for a brief pause. Then inhale and slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

As always, if you need more help than this head on over to the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database and look this exercise up for video demonstrations and more.

Safety First

To make sure you do not develop any back problems keep your form as perfect as possible and wear a weight lifting belt. If you think your grip will give out before your back muscles do then use some lifting straps so you can get the most out of your back as possible.

Training The Back With Bent-Over Rows

Let's go to the gym and blast those lats to new levels of development. There are different ways to gain size, strength and detail in the back so as you walk by people give you jaw dropped stares of admiration.

German Volume Training:

Made famous by Charles Poliquin, GVT has helped lifters from many sports including powerlifting and bodybuilding gain phenomenal strength on the lift they wanted to improve. You select a weight and go for 10 sets of 10 reps. If you go 10 for 10, then next time you move up in weight. If not, then you stick with the same poundage next time and try again. That sounds pretty simple, right? Do this and then tell me how simple it is.

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 10 sets of 10 reps, with 2 minutes rest in between each set

54321 Training:

For those of you who are looking to increase strength in your back but don't have time for 10 sets we have this alternative. You basically go for 5 reps with the heaviest weight possible while using proper form. After a 2 minute rest you add weight and go for 4 reps. This continues until you finally do a single rep with the heaviest weight you can use.

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 5,4,3,2,1 reps, with 2 minutes rest in between each set


You can do this movement with a reverse or underhand grip and really hit those lats hard. Just do the movement with the overhand grip and when you reach failure, set the bar down, switch your grip, get back into the starting position, and crank out more reps. The underhand grip will hit your lower lats and biceps more.


  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 4 sets of 10-15 reps, with 1 minute rest between each set
  • Underhand Bent-Over Barbell Row: 4 sets of 10-15 reps, with 1 minute rest between each set

Dramatic Transformation Principle:

DTP is the system that was introduced by the Editor-in-Chief of Bodybuilding.com and author of Body by Design, Kris Gethin. It is 12 sets of reps ranging from 50 to 5 and back to 50. As the reps decrease you add weight and then when the reps go back up you strip weight. This is going to wear you out but your back will grow fast.

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 12 sets of 50,40,30,20,10,5,5,10,20,30,40,50 reps, with 45 seconds rest


Hany Rambod is known as the Pro Creator and founder of Evogen but he is most famous for this system. 7 sets of 8-12 reps with 30-45 seconds rest in between each set. You choose a few movements to do for 3-4 sets each and then finish the workout with the dreaded 7's.

  • 3-4 other Back Exercises: 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps, each with 60-90 seconds rest
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 7 sets of 8-12 reps, with 30-45 seconds rest

FST-7 Again:

"Hold up, dude. You just mentioned this one."

Yeah, I know, but this one is a little different. Normally you do the sevens at the end of the workout. This time when you train back, do the sevens at the beginning of the workout. You will be at your strongest so you can lift more (just make sure you use good form) and you will get a great mental and physical boost from doing them before your other movements.

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 7 sets of 8-12 reps, with 30-45 seconds rest
  • 3-4 other Back Exercises: 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps, each with 60-90 seconds rest


You can do each of these programs for a few weeks or cycle them by doing a different one each time you train back. Either way you will benefit by seeing new levels of size, strength and detail that you previously thought was not possible. After doing these workouts make sure you head over to the Bodybuilding.com Store and buy yourself some bigger shirts because you will need them.

About the Author

Roger Lockridge

Roger Lockridge

Bodybuilding is the reason I am who I am today. I am more confident in myself, actually looking for the next challenge, and inspiring others.

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