How to do the Body Row

How to do the Body Row

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The body row is an excellent upper body exercise and beneficial for those wanting to progress into full body weight pull-ups.

Primary Muscles Used: Biceps

Secondary Muscle(s) Used: Triceps and Back

How to do Body Rows

Grip the rings that are at around waist height with your feet on the ground.

Squeeze the shoulder blades together and pull your chest up to the rings.

Some helpful hints and reminders…

  • Maintain a straight line with your body.
  • The closer your body is to being horizontal the more difficult the exercise becomes.
  • Beginners can bend the knees and use more of your heels to help push up to the top of the exercise.

The body row is a pull-up progression exercise appropriate for beginners. The body row is one of the final stage exercises before you attempt a full bodyweight pull-up.

It’s a similar movement to the pull-up requiring the same muscles but is easier to perform because you are not lifting all of your body weight and you have assistance with your feet on the ground.

As you gain strength with the body row, continue to lower the bar or rings to increase the difficulty of the exercise until you are able to perform full unassisted bodyweight pull-ups.

Barbell Rows work your upper back, lower back, hips and arms. They build a muscular back and bigger/stronger biceps. Barbell Rows are one of the most effective exercises you can do to increase your form and strength for squats, bench press and deadlift. Make sure to keep your lower back neutral in order to avoid back pain.

Don’t hold the bar in the air between reps or your back will tire very quickly so rest the bar on the floor between reps. Set your lower back neutral every time before you Barbell Row the next rep. Barbell Rows are easy to cheat and have improper form. You can lift heavier weights by using your hips, but your upper-back should be doing most of the work; which is why it is very important to keep your back neutral. A good thing to remember is if your torso rises too far, the weight is too heavy. Make sure you are not using your hips and you are lowering to work mostly your upper-back. Barbell rows are not deadlifts.

You pull from the floor so make sure to set your lower back to neutral. Proper form on Barbell Rows is similar to deadlifts in that each rep starts and ends on the floor. Here’s how to Barbell Row with a bar in proper form in 5 steps…

  1. Walk up to the bar with it starting on the ground. Stand with your feet under the bar. Make usre not to touch it with your shins. Go into a medium stance with your toes pointing out.
  2. Grab the bar using a medium grip width. You want to be narrower than doing a Bench Press and wider than doing Deadlifts. Hold the bar low in your hands.
  3. With your knees unlocked, keep your hips higher than when doing the Deadlift. Bend your knees but keep them back so the bar won’t hit them.
  4. Lift your chest up. Straighten your back keeping it neutral. Do not move the bar and don’t drop your hips. You don’t want to squeeze your shoulder-blades together.
  5. Take a big breath, hold it in and pull the bar against your lower chest. Lead with your elbows and pull them to the ceiling.

-Terry Asher


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  1. What would be an alternative until core is strong enough for the hips to come into line with heels and shoulders?

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