Barbell Rowing Machine | Coivolti Muscles and Execution

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Barbell rowing machine

The barbell rowing is a fundamental exercise for building backs worthy of a body builder. However, this exercise is not easy to perform, as many tend to pull more on their arms than on their backs, and this can be dangerous for the back itself.

You have to learn the correct execution with light weights, once you have learned the right execution you can gradually increase the load.

The barbell rowing can be performed both with a prone grip (i.e. palms facing upwards) and with a supine grip (i.e. palms facing downwards)

The muscles solicited by the barbell rowers are mainly the great dorsal, while in a secondary way: the great rotunda, the posterior part of the deltoid, the biceps, the trapezius and spinal erectors as can be seen in the figure below. Primarily activated muscles can be seen in red, while secondary activated muscles are marked in yellow.

Muscles involved

Training of the back muscles is generally less sought after by gym goers when compared with chest training, but it is considered indispensable by those who dedicate themselves to body building (it is in the back muscles that the legendary "V" for the which many body builders train).

When we talk about back muscles we generally refer to the great dorsals, trapezoidal-shaped muscles that join the arms to the trunk connecting the humerus to the sacral vertebrae. Back workouts also engage the biceps muscles.

Due to its extension, the great dorsal is one of the largest flat muscles in man as it covers the entire back up to the axillary arch. Its function is to rotate the arm inside and move it backwards; if the fixed point is the humerus, it will be the trunk that will approach (the typical example is the suspension from the bar). The antagonist muscles are the deltoid and the trapezius.

The distribution of the muscle fibers of the dorsal major is equally divided into resistant fibers (red or type I) and fast fibers (white or type IIb).

If you take a look at the training tables of the old athletes, you will realize how the bent over row was almost never missing, that is the barbell rowing performed standing with the back parallel or semi-parallel to the ground.


Grasp a barbell with a handle of width equal to that of the shoulders Incline the torso by about 45 ° The legs must be spread apart to the width of your pelvis, the knees slightly bent, the arms must be extended towards the ground, the grip of the barbell must match your shoulder width.

Keeping the knees slightly flexed and the back slightly extended, bring the bar until it touches the lower part of the chest (roughly the navel) in a straight upward trajectory.

After a moment of contraction, stop before the tension in the lats relaxes and the shoulders move, then return to the starting position. This exercise is excellent for the development of your back, it is recommended for advanced athletes with already developed muscles due to the intense neuromuscular effort.

The rowing is one of the most complete exercises for training the dorsal, it stimulates the "thickness of the back" more by working mainly on the great dorsal but involving the teres major, the posterior deltoid and the central part of the trapezius as secondary muscles. The biceps are also recruited as collateral muscles.

Breathe out (empty your lungs) as you bring the bar to your chest inhale (inflate your lungs) when you bring the bar down to the ground.

The recommended hand grip is that in supination (palms forward), where the involvement of the biceps is certainly greater but which allows the use of higher loads, essential for the effectiveness of the exercise. The trajectory of the barbell is normally such as to arrive in the lower part of the abdominal wall, but as a variant, bringing the bar higher upwards the upper back is more involved.

The barbell row is an exercise that needs perfect execution to avoid dangerous back injuries. If an exercise is too difficult, opt for the rowing machine with the head resting on a high bench in order to unload part of the weight on it.

Check the descent phase which must be slow and controlled, the back must not be dangerously curved but must remain flat and bent at 45 ° throughout the exercise.

Put aside the ego then avoid using excessive weights that can lead to unbalance forward forcing dangerous compensation with the back or arms.

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