While barbell rows are obviously a staple in most bodybuilders’ back workouts, reverse grip bent over rows aren’t seen nearly as often. However, just because they’re not that popular, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing them. Below are some advantages of reverse grip bent over rows, and why they belong in your routine.
Six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates was known for his extreme back development, and reverse grip bent over rows are one major reason why. Because you’re using a supinated grip, you’re able to rotate your upper arm around the shoulder socket. The is important because it’s the lower lats that does the bulk of the work.
As such, you can build much wider and thicker lower lats than you can with almost any other exercise. Dorian was known for his lower lat thickness – especially when he did his front lat spread pose. It was no secret that he credited reverse grip bent over rows for this. In fact, he was such a fan and caused such a bump in popularity for this exercise in the 1990s that they’re now often associated with the nickname “Yates Rows”.
One issue some lifters have with standard barbell rows is making sure they’re stable. This is often because you have to strike a balance between keeping your feet just the right width, getting your knees out of the way (as your legs will be slightly bent) so you don’t hit them with the bar, and keeping enough of your body weight back to stay balanced as you’re pulling the barbell up higher on your torso.
However, reverse grip bent over rows solve most of these issues. Your stance is inherently more stable, and because you are using the aforementioned supinated grip, the barbell is kept nearer to your center line. This means improved leverage and an increased ability to keep yourself planted. Because you’re so much more stable, most of the pressure is taken off your lower back, making injury less likely.
Older trainees with a lot of heavy lifting under their belt sometimes suffer from inflammation of the elbows and / or wrist. As such, any exercise that uses a straight barbell (be it with a supinated or pronated grip) can sometimes cause this to flare up. However, because of the movement pattern of reverse grip bent over rows, you could easily use a curl bar.
Grabbing it so that your hands are at a roughly 45-degree angle will put both your wrists and elbows in a much more ergonomic position, which will alleviate tension. Not only is this easier on your joints, but curl bars still give you enough room that you can load it up heavy enough to suit even the strongest of lifters.
Reverse grip bent over rows might not be as common as their barbell or dumbbell counterparts, but give them a shot. You’ll be able to use significantly more weight, get a greater stretch, and take the width of your lower lats to all new levels.