T-Bar Row - The ULTIMATE Back Exercise?

What’s up Gronk Fitness!

It goes without saying that training any muscle group requires more than one exercise. But if you only had time for ONE, which one should it be and why? And even if you have the time to perform two or three different exercises, which one should you prioritize in your training?

Although pull-ups are a close second, the single best back exercise you can possibly perform would be the T-Bar Row. Plus, it only requires a T-Bar Row Handle Bar to perform. But WHY is it superior?

1. Adaptability

Simply put, anyone can do it! Contrary to pull-ups, where you need to possess a certain amount of strength to pull yourself up multiple times for multiple sets, the T-Bar Row can be adjusted to meet anyone’s needs from beginner lifters to advanced athletes.

2. Overload Potential

Pull-ups are definitely a MUST when it comes to training your back but you are fairly limited to your pulling strength, meaning that it’s not easy to cheat with pull-ups without risking a potential injury.

Why would you WANT to cheat with any exercise? Well, strict form is great but it’s not always the best bang for your buck. Sometimes, you just need to use a bit of momentum to “skip” the concentric of the movement and focus solely on the eccentric, or negative. That’s because you are stronger in the negative part of any exercise and it’s actually responsible for the majority of your strength and muscle gains.

So, with that said, pull-ups do not offer that benefit. The T-Bar Row on the other hand, allows you to jerk the weight a bit, pull it close to your body and then slowly control the negative. Not to mention, it’s perfect for building explosive strength and power, since you can explosively pull the weight for the concentric and then slowly control the negative for a nice, deep stretch.

“I always try to load as many plates as possible on the T-Bar Row. I get my mind right and then I explosively lift the weight as many times as I can, not necessarily focusing too much on form or keeping my torso parallel to the floor. As an athlete, I can easily say that the majority of my pulling strength comes from heavy rows” – Rob Gronkowski

3. Versatility

Although the T-Bar Row is traditionally performed with a V-Handle, we recommend using the Xtreme Monkey Multi Grip T-Handle. That’s because doing the same kind of T-Bar Row for months on end, simply isn’t the best strategy to build up your pulling strength and back size.

Instead, attacking your back from different angles is the best thing you can do to keep your back constantly guessing and growing.

With the T-Bar Row Multi Handle in particular, you can perform T-Rows in 4 different ways.

  • Shoulder-Width Neutral Grip
  • Close Neutral Grip
  • Wide Overhand Grip
  • Neutral Underhand Grip

For maximum results, we recommend performing SIX sets of the T-Bar Row, switching your grip for the first four sets and then doing something extra to spark some additional growth. Let go of the multi-grip attachment altogether and simply grab the barbell with your hands. This will unevenly engage your back and challenge your grip at the same time. For the final set, remember to switch your grip to make sure you train both sides of your body equally.

4. Safety

Compared to any similar rowing movement, such as the Bent-Over Row, Pendlay Row or even the One-Arm Dumbbell Row, the T-Bar Row is far safer.

That’s because the weight is directly beneath your center of gravity as opposed to slightly in front of it. With the Bent-Over Row for example (or the deadlift) the bar is in front of your body which puts a strain on your lower back. As for the One-Arm Row, it puts too much of a torque on your lower and middle spine, which is not always the greatest thing when you’re lifting upwards of the 120lbs in each hand.

With the T-Bar Row though, you can simply use a wide stance with your feet, lower your hips and put ZERO strain on your lower back, even when lifting insane amounts of weight.

So if the T-Bar Row is not a STAPLE in your workout routines, MAKE IT a staple and as always…get your mind right.


  • Jeff Hathcock

    I’ve done just agbout every exercise known for building back muscles, from chinups to seated cable rows, you name it. However, the most effective exercises I’ve found to build my back are T-bar rows. So far, it’s the one exercise that I really feel targets the back like no other. I used to do set after set of chinups and they were terrific but I sustained a shoulder injury doing upright rows and no longer do chinups due to the pain. But, T-bar rows are no problem and I love the exercise.

  • Jeff Hathcock

    Since I’ve gone back to T-bar rowing I’ve noticed my back broadening and so I know I’m getting results. I simply wrap my hands around the bar, position my body and lift. I love this exercise and used to do it years ago. I’ve done as many as 140 chin-ups in a day and find T-bar rowing as good or better than chin-ups for me, anyway.

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