If we wanted to build an impressive physique, and we could only do just one exercise, it would be the barbell row. And by impressive we mean the kind of V-shaped Captain America torso that you can peg walking down the street a half-block away, not something that requires stripping down to one's jockey shorts to be appreciated. If you are looking for the kind of old-fashioned American physique that European designers love to create for, you need to start doing the barbell row.
The barbell row isolates your middle and lower trapezius muscles, your rhomboids and the stabilizer muscles in the back of your shoulders. These are the muscles that will pull your shoulders back and force you into a good posture whether you wanted to be there or not. Most of us have been conditioned to develop our chest muscles through bench presses and other such exercises – and that's fine – but without the proper back development that exercises like the barbell row provide, you will begin to hunch forward as your chest muscles overpower your back.
The barbell row will also help you with almost every other exercise you perform. It trains your rhomboids and trapezius muscles to keep your shoulders from moving as you bench press and decreases the risk of shoulder injury. And the stronger your back is overall, the less spinal rounding will occur during your deadlifts and squats – and that means you can lift heavier loads with less injury to your back.
Here's what to do:
- Start with the barbell on the floor in front of you.
- Walk your feet beneath the barbell so that it runs horizontally across the middle of your feet.
- Bend you knees slightly, push your hips back until your hands grab the bar. You should feel a nice burn in your hamstrings. Keep your chest lifted at a 45-degree angle.
- Flex your lats – the Latissimus Dorsi muscles that are the broades muscles in your back. This will keep your back from rounding.
- Begin the lift Pull the barbell about 1 to 2 inches off the floor. Let it hover there for a couple seconds.
- Now pull your elbows inward toward your hips while squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top and... pause.
- As you return to your starting position, allow your shoulder blades to move. You will feel them wrap around your rib cage as you ease the weight down. This places less stress on your biceps tendon.
Sources: Men's Health