A bent barbell row is a free weight training exercise that involves bending forward and then pulling a barbell toward the chest. This muscle-building exercise works the upper back muscles, the biceps muscles and the shoulder muscles. This exercise can put a lot of strain on the lower back because of the position of the athlete during the lift, so it is important that an athlete maintain proper form at all times in order to prevent injury.
The bent barbell row is very similar to standard barbell rows. In fact, many athletes and trainers use the terms interchangeably. Others distinguish the two back exercises by the amount that the athlete bends at the waist during the exercises and the resulting angle of the weights in relation to the chest during the lift. During a bent barbell row, an athlete generally will bend a bit further than during standard barbell rows. As a result, the weight will tend to approach the body in such a way that the weight will be slightly below the chest rather than right in line with the middle of the chest, as is the case with standard barbell rows.
In order to perform bent barbell rows, then, the first step is to grip a barbell with a pronated grip while standing with the feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Then, while maintaining a slight bend in the knee, the athlete bends at the waist in order to lower the upper body toward the floor. The bend in the knee is crucial when assuming this position, because this will allow the buttocks to counteract the weight of the barbell and upper body and thus helps the athlete maintain stability during the exercise. The athlete should bend until the upper body is close to parallel with the ground.
At this point, the arms will be hanging perpendicular to the floor while still gripping the weight. Depending on the height of the bar and the length of the athlete's arms, it sometimes is possible to leave the weight on the floor while getting into position and then simply grip it after the athlete has lowered his or her upper body toward the floor. Some athletes even allow the weight to rest briefly on the floor in between each repetition of the exercise.
In order to perform the bent barbell row, the athlete pulls the weight toward the upper body. Depending on the exact angle of the torso, the bar will move toward an area somewhere between the middle of the chest and the area just below the chest. After the arms have bent as far as possible, the athlete relaxes the muscles and lowers the weight back toward the floor. This constitutes one repetition of the bent barbell row.