A mile-wide back now! Part 3

I the first part of this article I discussed the most common problems connected with pull-ups; in the second - with the deadlift. Now is the time for the best back exercise. If you have already done pull-ups and deadlift, your training can be consider satisfactory. In addition, the deadlift engages a number of muscles, aside from your back also back of your thighs, buttocks, arms. And pull-ups engage forearms and shoulders as well. The next exercise is no exception in this matter, and this multi-joint exercise is: barbell row.

You should definitely read:

A mile-wide back now! Part 1

Barbell row

It is one of indispensible exercises for your back. Contrary to popular beliefs it is not a chief latissimus dorsi muscle exercise. If this muscle is your target, you should actually choose pull-ups with elbows close to your body and straight posture. If you analyse which muscles work during the barbell row (according to the exrx portal), the order is not accidental, and for some may turn out to be quite surprise. Similarly to pull-ups, in this exercise the trapezius muscle is less involved, and what plays the most crucial role is the latissimus dorsi muscle. While in barbell rowing the role of "wings" (that is of latissimus dorsi) is less important, they still do some work. The most important here are trapezius and rhomboid muscles, particularly when you cheat in this exercise (which will be explained later in the text).

Muscle groups:

Major working:

  • trapezius muscle (especially its middle and lower parts),
  • rhomboid muscle,
  • latissimus dorsi muscle,
  • teres major muscle,
  • back of the deltoid muscle,
  • infraspinatus muscle,
  • teres minor,
  • deltoid  muscle,
  • brachioradialis muscle,
  • greater pectoral,

Dynamic stabilisation:

  • biceps,
  • triceps,

Body stabilisation:

  • back exensors,
  • back of thigh (biceps of thigh, semitendinosus, semimembranosus),
  • gluetus maximus muscle,
  • great adductor muscle,

Stabilisation, antagonists:

  • abdominal rectus and oblique muscles [1]

Most common errors: too little weight

Most of the gym-goers use too little weight for barbell rowing or dumbbels rowing. And rowing is one of the most powerful exercises that makes huge part of muscles work. How do you want to make your back work if you apply half the weight you normally press on the bench? Compare the size of your chest, shoulders and triceps to the muscles enumerated above: within this context bench press looks rather poorly.

For advanced sportsmen: strong bodybuilders, powerlifters, weightlifters, the conversion is simple: you should be able to row one-hand a half of that you can deadlift, regardless of whether you row with a barbell or a dumbbell. It refers to strong, heavy, slender athletes with a couple of years of experience and who deadlift and row regularly.

This means: you deadlift 250 kgs? Row one-hand with 125 kgs.

For the intermediate: the good weight would be 35-45% of your maximum weight you deadlift. For example: if you can lift 220 kgs in a both-hand deadlift, you should take 75-100 kgs for one-hand rowing.

Beginners: the weight below 35% of the deadlift maximum.

When it comes to both-hand rowing, realisable weight you can work with vary from 65 to 70% of the deadlift's (if you lift 270 kilos, you can row with 168-196). I did see an 130-kilo weightlifter who easily rowed 210 kgs, but you should remember that along with higher weight, your technique gets much worse, and rowing is not about jerking as much as you can lift but actually a slow and controlled motion with long eccentric phase (2-4 seconds), body in position and shoulders squeezed.