T Bar Rows: Form, benefits, instructions, Variations and Common Mistakes

Table of Contents

Outlines to be discussed

  • What is T Bar Rows
  • T  Bar Rows Benefits
  • How to perform T Bar Rows
  • Common mistakes beginners should avoid
  • T Bar Rows Variations and alternatives

“If you keep your lower back arched you’ll contract upper-back muscles, but you won’t target your lower central lats. You have to stretch the lats to ensure full development.” (Frank Zane)

Training your back does more than just contribute to a balanced physique. This helps to protect against the injury in long run and boosts sports performance. It also fires up your metabolism by engaging or recruiting large muscle groups. Chin-ups, negative pull-ups, and pull-downs usually add size to your lats but if you are interested to get a thick back then T-bar rows are best for this.

This classical exercise helps to load more weight which leads to massive gains. If you are not interested to perform this exercise then you may use T bar rows alternatives like Bent Over Dumbbell Row, Resistance Band Bent Over Row and Bent Over Close Grip Cable Row etc. At the end of this article, you will be able to know about the T bar rows, their benefits, step by step instructions, variations and Common Mistakes.

What is T Bar Rows?

T bar rows are usually called Leverage rows. It is a classical bodybuilding exercise often performed with the help of plate loaded machine. Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, and other legends of the Golden Era performed this compound movement regularly as part of their back workouts.

If you are trying to target your upper back then this exercise is excellent for this purpose. As we know, lats pulldown and chin-ups will make your lats wider but if you want a thick, densely muscled back then you need to do rows. This allows the people to use neutral grip in which palm faces each other, and this is the biomechanically strongest position to pull from.

T Bar Rows Benefits

There are lots of benefits due to which we Love the T bar rows exercise. Here’s a list of the main ones:

  • Versatility

T bar row machine helps to use the different positions of hands to work your back from a variety of angles. Below are the few most common grips available for this exercise:

  • Close-neutral
  • Shoulder width-neutral
  • Wide-overhand
  • Narrow-underhand

Among these four hand positions to choose from, you can add plenty of variety to your T Bar rows workout.

  • Adaptability and loading

Either you are strong as an or weak as a kitten, T bar rows is good exercise for you. You can use little or much weight you can safely handle. Removing or adding weight takes only a few seconds so, you can adjust the weight without any delay in your workout. As we know most T bar rows are plate-loading machines, you can also use low different weights to increase your workload in small addition, e.g., 2.5 pounds.

  • It’s a total back exercise

If you only have time for one back exercise then T bar rows is a better choice as it is a totally back muscles exercise and this makes it a very efficient exercise. This may also help your biceps have a good workout too.

  • Safety

With this exercise, weight is directly under your center of gravity which means it puts less stress on your lower back. Pendlay rows and Bent over barbell rows put weight out in front of your center of gravity that pulls you forward and increases the lower back strain.

How to Perform T-Bar Rows Exercise

T Bar rows

If you are a beginner and your gym have a T-bar rows machine then go for it. Doing T-bar rows on a machine is better than using a barbell as it is safe to use in case you are a beginner. This exercise may be performed either by Close-grip or with a wider grip.

Close-grip or narrower grip forces you to keep your elbows close to your body and squeeze your lats while lifting the machine. A wider grip may provide more comfort but you are unable to achieve the same range of motion. Here, I will tell the beginners how they can perform t- bar rows exercise.

  • First of all, load the T-bar machine with weight plates.
  • Lie prone on the pad of a T-Bar machine and grasp the handle with a neutral or pronated grip depending upon preference.
  • Now brace your core and pull the T-bar towards your chest. Always remember your upper body must be stable during the movement.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and your elbows must be closer to your sides. At the top of the movement, your shoulder blades and upper back muscles should be fully contracted.
  • Hold for a second and then slowly lower the weight back.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Common mistakes beginners should avoid

T-bar row needs core stability and balance. If you swing your hips or arch your back, you will get an injury. Plus, you may not be able to fully activate your lats. Here is the list of common rowing mistakes that you need to avoid.

  • Using too much weight

T-bar row is a compound exercise that is done with substantial weights but lifting too much weight make this exercise less effective. If you have to cheat to complete all the reps, round your back to use the full range of motion then you are probably going too heavy. To come up with this issue you should reduce the weight and focus on your technique. Whenever you get strong enough then increase the weight.

  • Standing too upright

To make the T-bar row machine exercise effective you must lean forward to hit your lats and mid traps. As we know bending over increases the stress on your lower back. Some exercisers don’t bend over far enough doing T-bar rows, turning it into more of an upright row.

We know that upright tows will work on your upper traps and not your lats so, if you cannot lean forward and maintain the exact position then you may be using too much weight.  Reduce the weight to come over this mistake or on the other hand, use the chest-supported T-bar row machine.

  • Don’t round your lower back

Do not try to round your back as rounding the lower back puts extra stress on your spine and cause serious and even permanent injury. If you aren’t sure about the position of your back, take help from the trainers.

T-Bar Row Variations and Alternatives

If you are a beginner and your gym have no T-bar row machine or you are in search of a similar exercise in place of T-bar rows? Don’t worry I will provide you with better options here. Below are a few variations and alternatives.

  • Meadows Row

The name Meadows row was given to this exercise after the famous bodybuilder John Meadows. It is a one-armed version of the T-bar row. This exercise can be performed with the landmine device, T-bar row machine or with help of a barbell placed in the gym corner. This is a unique exercise as it provides a better way to build your lats.

  • Barbell T-Bar Rows

If your gym has no T-bar row machine then you can replicate this with barbell T-bar rows. This exercise needs the stabilization of the whole body when you are in a bent-over position with a free moving loaded barbell.

This exercise also promotes the width of back muscles, this occurs because a non-fixed bar allows for a greater range of motion. This will allow for a greater variety of back muscles to be targeted throughout the movement.

  • Pendlay Rows

As we know, the T-bar row is one of the best exercises for back muscles and Pendlay rows come after this. The name was given to this exercise after the power or weightlifter Glen Pendlay. This exercise is an excellent alternative to T-bar rows which provides your lower back with brief rest between the reps.

  • Single Arm Dumbbell Rows

Like T-bar rows, this exercise allows you to work your lats with a neutral grip. In this, you need to rotate your wrist. This exercise may help you to recognize and fix the left to right strength imbalance. Here, your arm will give you some support and remove the stress from your lower back.

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