Kroc Rows : How To Do Them & What You Need To Know



Want a truly hard exercise? In that case, you really need to try Kroc rows. Why? They work. Not sure how to do them? Don’t worry. We have all the details you need to get started today!

Kroc rows may not be for one and all, but if you’re looking to pack on some major muscle, then they might just be for you.

Sure, there are plenty of exercises you can do to stack up your back and get ripped, but why not try something new?

Adding new exercises to your routine is an excellent way of stimulating new muscle growth.


The reason is because your muscles get a whole new challenge and will respond in the most positive ways.

So, don’t let yourself get stuck in a lifting rut. Bust out some Kroc rows and watch how much it can change your physique. We’ll explain how.

What Is A Kroc Row And Where Did It Come From?

Sure it sounds a lot like what I’d be doing in my boat to avoid a crocodile swimming at me, but it’s not, thank goodness!

What is it?

A Kroc row is actually just a variation of your basic dumbbell row, except a lot heavier. Kroc rows have often been in conjunction with pendlay rows for the ultimate killer back workout.

Basically, it’s a bent over row where you would use a very heavy dumbbell and perform 20 reps on each arm. Because of the amount of weight on the dumbbell, people typically rest one arm on a stable object to keep from breaking form if doing them while standing.

A man named Matt Kroczaleski invented the Kroc row. Matt took notice that his bench press, grip and deadlift lockout wasn’t quite where he wanted it to be so he decided to add dumbbell rows back into his normal routine. At Matt’s local gym, the heaviest dumbbells available were 150 pounds. He would do between 20 to 30 reps in each set.

Later, he built his own home gym and decided he wanted a heavier dumbbell because he wasn’t feeling the challenge. As a result, he commissioned his brother to make him some heavy-duty handles that would hold a lot of weight. His brother made the handles from 36″ long threaded bolts that were used to anchor buildings. That’s definitely strong enough to ensure that they could hold over 300 pounds!

A side note: Matt’s personal record is doing 13 reps of 310 pounds.


What Are The Many Benefits Of Doing Kroc Rows?

Adding the Kroc row to your routine can be quite beneficial in many ways. Kroc rows are more of an advanced exercise.


The reason is because of the extreme amount of weight that goes on the dumbbell, so be sure you are ready for some burning and grunting!

Kroc Rows Will Improve Your Deadlift

Kroc rows take a lot of power and give you a lot of strength. If you are doing Kroc rows the way Matt started doing them (from standing), you’re going to build an amazing amount of strength in your back and grip, which will benefit your deadlift tremendously.

Kroc Rows Work A Lot Of Muscles

Though Kroc rows are mainly considered a back exercise, they will also work your rear deltoids (muscles of the shoulders), biceps and even the obliques. If you perform the Kroc rows without wrist straps, you will also get a good workout in your forearms as well. With so many muscles being engaged at the same time, you are sure to burn a load of fat and get ripped in no time at all.

Kroc Rows Build A Large Upper Back

There’s no doubt about it! Matt gives his Kroc rows all the credit for the significant size increase in his upper back while he was a bodybuilder. That’s because they build a tremendous amount of muscle and strength.

Kroc Rows Increase Your Grip Strength

Kroc rows are performed using the heaviest amount of weight you can lift. For that reason, you really have to hold on tight! You will notice a significant increase in your grip strength as you progress. This will benefit you in so many different lifting exercises too.

Good News For Your Back

By building and strengthening the muscles of the upper back, you can improve your posture and prevent many injuries that go along with a weak back. Matt had mentioned that with his training, he was able to move engine blocks, washers, large pieces of furniture and even a fully loaded refrigerator all by himself.

That’s great news because this type of exercise isn’t just beneficial for the eyes and in the gym. It’s also going to help you in your everyday life. Maybe the next time a pretty girl needs her tire changed and she doesn’t have a jack, you can be that jack, or not. It’s totally up to you.

How To Perform The Kroc Row

If anybody knows how to do a Kroc row, it would be the person who came up with the idea.


It’s not your typical dumbbell row done with perfect form, a flat back, and a lighter weight dumbbell. This is going to be an all-out killer with the heaviest weight you can stand, the most reps, a lot of sweat and maybe a few tears.

Are you ready to get started?

In that case, Matt suggests on T-Nation that the first thing you have to “concentrate on is getting a full range of motion.”


You have to fully extend your shoulder right at the bottom. From there, you have to pull it “up and back at the top.”


Matt suggests that doing this will basically ensure that you get a full stretch in your lats and that you are able to get a complete contraction.

Matt says that at the bottom, you should “really let your shoulder drop” adding that you should experience “the stretch in your lats and middle upper back.” At the top of the move you should attempt to focus on pulling back your scapula as much as you can “while pulling your elbow up and back, essentially trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together.”

Matt indicates that “Your shoulders should be kept higher than your hips and your upper back should be at approximately a 15-degree angle to the floor.” He suggests using the lowest possible setting on an adjustable incline bench.


Simple. It will ensure that you are focusing all your efforts on your upper back.

Pull the dumbbell in a straight line starting from right below chest level to the lower part of your ribcage. He says he always makes a point of lightly touching his ribcage with the dumbbell at the top of each of his reps.

Force the weight up by engaging your upper back muscles. With that said, you should avoid making a clean-type motion that relies on momentum.


Doing so will cut the amount of work that your muscles will be forced to do. Sure it will make things easier, but you really want to avoid doing that. Matt goes on to say that the Kroc row can be performed standing (his preference) or with one hand and a knee on a flat bench.


Should Kroc Rows Be Done With Or Without Straps?

This is something that’s going to be entirely up to you. If you are focused on increasing your grip strength, by all means, don’t use the straps. But if your main goal is building up your back like there’s no tomorrow, then throw one on and shift your focus to more weight on the bar.

If you want, you can even alternate with the use of straps so you can get the best of both worlds. Do a few reps with and then do a few without the use of the straps. It’s up to you and what your preferences are.

How Many Reps And Sets Should Be Done With Kroc Rows?

According to Matt, you should pile on as much weight as you can stand for a total of 20 reps per arm. The 20th rep should bring your muscles to complete and utter exhaustion. Do not increase the weight until you can get to 25 reps.

Don’t forget: This is a one set deal per arm. Matt said that he’s done as many as 40 reps per set and his back was pumped beyond anything.

This Is When To Add Kroc Rows To Your Routine

If you have been lifting heavy for a while and built a lot of strength, it might be time to add some Kroc rows to your routine. No matter if you are a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, Kroc rows will help. They are sure to get you to where you want to be, strength and size-wise.

Feel free to add them to your regular back routine. Just make sure you put them towards the beginning.


Kroc rows are extremely exhausting and may inhibit your other heavy lifts in your workout routine. Needless to say, if you are going to be lifting heavy during the course of your workout, you can’t do so in an exhausted state.

Try This Routine To Build A Mighty Back

If you are ready to get ripped and strong as an ox, then this routine is going to do just that.

Get ready, get set and let’s go!

Of course, before you get into the exercises, though, you need to be smart. Start with a few warm-up reps and down a protein shake.

After you are finished doing that, you should then complete the following:

Barbell Deadlift- 3 Sets X 12 Reps

Kroc Row- 1 Set (per arm) X 20 Reps

Pull-ups- 100 Reps (as many working sets as it takes to complete the given amount)

T-Bar Row- 2 Sets X 10 Reps

Barbell Shrug- 2 Sets X 10 Reps

Repeat this routine for two or three days per week. These should be done on non-consecutive days to give your muscles the proper time to recover and grow.


Build Your Own Kroc Dumbbell

If you do not have access to some super heavy dumbbells and want to be able to load up some weight, then you can always build your own!


You could follow the instructions detailed by Jim Wendler, a competitive lifter, coach, former football player for the University of Arizona and the creator of the 5/3/1 training program.

First, take a section of one-inch cold rolled steel and proceed to have it cut to 30 inches Of course, that’s if your goal is to reach the 300-pound mark. If your goal is to reach the 200-pound mark, then you should have it cut to 24 inches.

Using a bicycle grip, you should cut the end off and proceed to slide it to the middle of the bar. Keep in mind that this could take a little bit of manipulation. You will need to make use of some varying weight plates to ensure that you are able to get to your goal. Try making use of 2.5, 5 and 10-pound plates.

Get some standard barbell clamps. It might be a good idea to use two or three standard spring clips for each side as extra security. Load up your bar with plates. From there, do some warm-up reps so that you can get a feel for holding onto a bigger dumbbell.

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Kroc rows are definitely not for the faint of heart. They are tough, taxing and beyond a shadow of a doubt very, very effective. Try adding them to your routine and watch what a difference they will make in your overall back and grip strength. And, that’s not to mention the fact that in time they will benefit you when it comes to any other heavy lifting exercises.

By Heather Neff, CPT

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Gym Junkies Founder & Editor in Chief at Gym Junkies LLC
I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my extensive fitness blog, top fitness videos, leading workout supplements, and top selling eBooks, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.
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