The barbell row is a compound exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the upper back, including the lats, rhomboids, traps, and rear delts. It also engages the muscles of the lower back, biceps, and forearms. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform a barbell row.

1. Setup

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, with the barbell in front of you on the ground.
  • Bend at your hips and knees to lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Your back should be straight, and your chest should be up.
  • Grab the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing your body) that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

2. Starting Position

  • Your arms should be fully extended, and your back should be flat.
  • Ensure that your shoulders are directly above or slightly in front of the barbell.

3. Execution

  • Keeping your back straight and chest up, pull the barbell toward your lower chest or upper abdomen.
  • Focus on driving your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  • Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the lift.

4. Return

  • Lower the barbell back to the starting position with control, fully extending your arms.
  • Avoid rounding your back or using excessive body English to lift the weight.

5. Repeat

  • Perform the desired number of repetitions.


  • Use a controlled and deliberate motion to avoid using momentum.
  • Start with a lighter weight to ensure proper form before increasing the load.
  • Keep your core engaged to stabilize your spine throughout the movement.
  • Focus on a full range of motion, ensuring the barbell reaches the lower chest or upper abdomen during each repetition.

The barbell row is an effective exercise for building strength and muscle mass in the upper back. As with any weightlifting exercise, it’s important to use proper form to minimise the risk of injury. If you’re new to weightlifting or have any health concerns, consider seeking guidance from a fitness professional or healthcare provider before incorporating barbell rows into your workout routine.

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