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Barbell vs dumbbell rows


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Is there much difference between doing bent-over rows from free standing with a barbell, to resting one knee on a bench and using a dumbbell?

I used to do these with a dumbbell, one side at a time, keeping my back flat and parallel to the floor and my knee resting on a bench. Since starting stronglifts I've been doing rows standing freely with a barbell and it feels odd, like a lot of the strain is in my glutes, plus it is more difficult to lift in a straight line to my chest. Are there advantages to one or the other?

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When starting barbell rows you may notice a bit of stress on your lower back/abs/glutes/hamstrings or quads as a lot of stabilization is required to hold yourself in that position. You'll find this will probably go away within a few weeks.

 

There are many different ways to do barbell rows (the type/width of grip you take, hip/knee angles, bar path) and each will shift the emphasis on target muscles.

 

I do them the way they tell on the stronglifts site. The rep starts/ends with the bar on the floor, and you pull to the chest. Overhand grip, bench press width.

 

But of course, that is just preference. The advantages I'd say is it's the complete opposite of the bench press and will work the opposing muscles. You're using a barbell so avoids a strength imbalance side to side. Using more weight at once and using the full body (whether directly or not).

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Is there much difference between doing bent-over rows from free standing with a barbell, to resting one knee on a bench and using a dumbbell?

I used to do these with a dumbbell, one side at a time, keeping my back flat and parallel to the floor and my knee resting on a bench. Since starting stronglifts I've been doing rows standing freely with a barbell and it feels odd, like a lot of the strain is in my glutes, plus it is more difficult to lift in a straight line to my chest. Are there advantages to one or the other?

Using dumbbells allow more flexibility on the grip. Also, doing one-arm db rows on the bench eliminates the strain on the lower back.

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Thanks for clarifying. I do feel a bit of lower back strain after doing barbell rows, so what about those barbell rows you do lying on your chest on a bench? Much different from standing free?

 

If you take the lower back/core supporting factor out, you'll definitely find that it's easier on the lower back for strain. T-Bar supported rows are good for that, they never really feel "right" to me when I do them, but they don't tax my lower back at all, which is a nice change.

 

Also, with barbel rows, you'll find less strain if you do them with the torso at about 45 degrees vs. parallel to the floor and by keeping the bar as close to the body as possible. It will activate the upper back muscles slightly differently than a wider grip pulling to the middle chest (more latissimus activation vs. other middle back/rear deltoid work), but is still a useful way to row and tends to be less stressful on the lower back.

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