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Rowing barre: back-building exercises

Rowing barre: back-building exercises


Exercise for building a thick back

Pull-ups are considered an essential basic movement for building a broad back. They have an ideal complement which is also considered a basic movement. This complementary movement helps to achieve a thicker back overall, and the stretching it provides also affects width. This movement is called Rowing.

When I talk about Rowing, I'm not referring to the low pulley pull-up, the dumbbells on a bench or the various machines that allow you to work in complete safety. I'm talking about Rowing with your torso bent over the free bar!

But let's take a look at the alternatives to this highly effective, yet technically demanding movement.

rowing à la barre

Bent over bar rowing

As its name suggests, rowing means "to row". This movement is therefore a "reproduction" of the pulling movement that the rower exerts on his oars when he brings them towards him. In other words, the outstretched arms bend to bring the bar towards the lower abdomen, keeping the back as flat as possible.

Movement description

Stand facing the squat rack, with the bar at thigh level. Grasp the bar with your hands pronated (overhand grip) at hip width. Once the bar is off the rack, take two or three steps backwards away from it, then, keeping your back as flat as possible, bend forward so that your torso is at an angle of between 45° and 90° to the ground.

I'd like to stress that, to avoid injury, it's important to keep your abdominal and lumbar muscles well supported, and your back as flat as possible.

In this position, the arms are stretched downwards, and the aim is to bring the bar towards the lower abdomen by flexing the arms. The elbows extend as far back as possible, while remaining close to the body. The shoulder blades tighten and the shoulders are pulled back.

It's these last points that make the rowing movement effective or ineffective.

If these points are not respected, the contraction of the back muscles cannot be effective, and the movement loses all its interest.

It's just as important for the efficiency of the movement to relax the arms as much as possible in order to stretch the back muscles.

Alternatives to barbell rowing

Although barbell rowing remains the king of back-building movements, there are other less risky but equally effective movements.

Dumbbell rowing arm by arm, low pulley rowing or machine rowing are all movements with proven effectiveness and far less risk to the lumbar muscles.

The most important thing to remember with these movements is to keep your abdominal and lumbar muscles well supported,

It's necessary to keep the torso arched, and to put the shoulders in a backward position, which will improve and accentuate the contraction of the dorsal muscles. It is anatomically impossible to fully contract the dorsal muscles if the back is rounded.

What's more, the back muscles must be stretched as far as possible to obtain the greatest possible amplitude.

Whether you choose the rowing barre or its alternatives, this is a movement that should be part of your arsenal for back work. Nothing is more effective for the thickness of the back than this movement. Don't forget that, for real effectiveness, it's imperative to sheathe the abs and lumbar vertebrae, to avoid injury to the lower back, and to accentuate the contraction, don't forget to inflate the torso while pulling the shoulders back.

So get to work, and don't forget that, as with any basic movement, the important thing is not the load moved, but the correct execution of the movement.

Author Alexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers