What is T bar row?

Wondering how to do T bar row? Before we get down to doing this immensely powerful exercise, it is essential to know what is T bar row is and its basics.

Strengthening your back muscles requires a variety of exercises that activate different muscles in this area. One exercise that checks all the boxes and works multiple upper back muscle groups is T bar row.

Considered to be amongst the best back mass muscle building exercises, the T bar exercise has a clear advantage over other exercises such as pull-ups, dumbbell rows, and bent-over rows. Since in the T bar workout you can use both hands, you can use heavier weights and hence gain more strength.

When done correctly, the T bar row exercise works on these muscles:

How to do T bar row?

Just like any other weighted exercise, doing the T bar workout also needs precision. Here is how you can perfect the T bar row workout and its form. This is the standard standing T bar row exercise:

  1. To begin, load the T bar row handle with appropriate weights. In case your gym doesn’t have a designated T bar row workout machine, you can create your equipment with a barbell and handle.
  2. Now straddle the T bar row handle by facing it. 
  3. Bend forward on the T bar row stand from the hips. Your knees must also have a slight bend in them.
  4. Grab the T bar row stand with an overhand grip. Your hands must be shoulder-width apart. If you are using a designated barbell machine, you will need to grab its handle with a neutral grip. Here, the palms of your hands face each other.
  5. Pull forward your torso slowly. 
  6. Pause for a couple of seconds.
  7. Return to the starting position by completely extending your arms.
  8. This is one repetition.

Sets and reps of barbell T bar row: You can start with 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps. Gradually build upon your practice. 

What are the different variations of T bar row?

Once you have perfected the T bar exercise, it only makes sense to move on to its variations. These T bar row exercise variations help you gain more strength and add a much-needed variety to your workouts.

Here are some of the most effective T bar workout variations:

  1. T bar row with dumbbells: Also known as dumbbell rows, this exercise allows you to work on the same muscle groups as in the traditional barbell T bar row exercise. 
  • To do the T bar row with dumbbells, bend one knee on the bench while positioning the other leg firmly on the ground. 
  • Grab the dumbbell and drive it up through your elbow behind you. You need to pull the handle aside your hip by following the correct T bar row grip.
  • Your elbow must be bent at an angle of 90-degrees.
  • Fully extend your elbow to bring the dumbbell back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  1. Seated T bar row: As the name suggests, this variation of the T barbell row is done while sitting on a seated cable row machine. The seated T bar row is a great exercise to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders, middle & upper back, neck, and the front of upper arms. 
  • To do the seated T barbell row, sit straight on a bench and plant your feet firmly on the floor. 
  • Extend your arms to hold the cable or the handle.
  • Engage your core and move your shoulders back.
  • Exhale deeply and pull the cable while bending your elbows. 
  • Make sure that your elbows are tucked in and your back is neutral. Pause for a second.
  • This is one repetition. 
  1. Chest supported T bar row/ lying T bar row: As the name suggests, the chest supported T bar row exercise is done by positioning yourself on the chest pad of the T bar gym machine. The remaining movements of the lying T bar row are the same as in the traditional form of the exercise.

What are the benefits of T bar row?

The back T bar row is a phenomenal exercise that works by isolating the muscles in your back. Here are some of the most important benefits of the bent over T bar row exercise:

  1. One of the most important T bar row benefits is that it is a compound exercise that recruits and strengthens multiple muscle groups at the same time efficiently. 
  2. The back T bar row exercise doesn’t stress your lower back and is beneficial for people who suffer from weak back muscles. 
  3. Since this exercise involves resistance and high-intensity movements, this works as a great weight loss exercise. 
  4.  One of the most important T bar row benefits is that it has loads of variations that you can do depending on your flexibility levels and fitness goals. That’s not all, there are also loads of T bar row alternative exercises that you can try.
  5. Due to its minimal set-up, it is a great exercise to include in your workouts at home.

How to do the T bar row safely?

Whether you are doing the T bar row at home or using the T bar gym, here are some safety tips:

  1. For proper T bar row grip and form, learn the exercise from an experienced trainer. 
  2. Don’t stand too tall during the bent over T bar row. Bend your torso at an angle of 45-degrees.
  3. Don’t start with heavyweights at the outset, especially during exercise for beginners. Start with light weights and gradually progress, especially while doing T bar row at home. 


Whether you do the seated or the standing T bar row, the benefits are immense. However, the key to gaining these benefits is to keep yourself engaged by doing T bar row alternatives and variations. 

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May 19, 2022

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