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How to do the T Bar Row: Technique, Benefits & Variations

What is a T Bar Row?

A T Bar Row uses a barbell, or a T Bar machine, to exercise the back muscles. Weights are added to only one end of the barbell, and other weightless end is wedged into a corner (or landmine attachment). Straddling the bar, the weighted end is lifted in a rowing motion with an inward-facing grip.

Benefits of the T Bar Row

The T Bar Row is a great exercise for many reasons:

  • Easy to perform: It’s great for all levels of experience and strength as it’s relatively easy to perform. Fixing one end of the bar in place reduces the amount of movement dimensions through the range, making it an easy movement to perform.
  • Hits multiple muscles: The T Bar Row works a number of large muscles through the posterior chain, and covers the biceps too. A great exercise to cover lots of work if short on time.
  • Reduced chance of back injury: Some other rowing exercises, such as barbell rows, involve the weight being in front of your center of gravity, which can increase strain on your back. With T Bar Rows, the weight is directly under your center of gravity, which makes it much safer for your back.

Muscles Worked

Being a Compound Exercise, the T Bar Row targets a number of muscles at once:

  • Lats (Latissimus Dorsi)
  • Traps (Middle Trapezius)
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior Deltoids
  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Erector Spinae
  • Glutes, Quads and Hamstrings

Equipment Needed

How To Perform the T Bar Row

  1. Take an empty barbell and place one end in a landmine attachment (if available) or in the corner of the room.
  2. Add required weights to the other end of the barbell (the end not in the landmine attachment or corner).
  3. Attach a V-grip handle to barbell near the weights. If not available, you can simply grip the barbell with both hands, palms facing inwards.
  4. Straddle the barbell with one leg one each side, and bends your knees slightly.
  5. Keeping your back straight whilst slightly bent over, pull the barbell up towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  6. Lower the barbell back to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps and sets.
  7. Breath in when pulling the bar up towards you, breath out when lowering the bar to the ground.

Common Mistakes

  • Rounding the lower back: Rounding your back whilst performing the T Bar Row will put additional strain on your back and increase the risk of injury. Keep your back straight at all times.
  • Standing too upright or too bent: Bending your torso too much or too little will shift the emphasis of the lifting effort to the wrong
  • Assisting with your back: Try to maintain good form throughout, without using your back to assist your lifts. If you really do want to add some assistance to push the weight or reps to the maximum, use your legs instead of your back.
  • Going too heavy: Good form will get you the best results, so avoid the temptation to break form by putting too much weight on the T Bar.

Variations and Alternatives

Machine vs Free Weight

We have described above how to do the T Bar Row with a barbell, but many gyms will have a T Bar Row machine that you can use.

The machine offers support for your back by providing a bench for you to place your chest against. This reduces the strain on your lower back during the row, allowing you to focus on your upper back muscles.

Landmine Attachment

A landmine attachment is simply a tailor-made piece of equipment that is fixed to the floor, or a rack, that can hold one end of a barbell. This can help with your T Bar Row as it prevents the barbell from moving and does not damage any walls or flooring.

V-Grip (or other) Attachment

It is possible to perform the T Bar Row without any grip attachment, just by gripping the barbell directly. However, using a grip attachment will offer a variety of options that can subtly shift focus between muscle groups.

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