How to Do Overhand Barbell Row Properly 

The overhand barbell row is a primary row workout done with a barbell. The technique of executing this workout is designed to target the back muscles. Depending on your technique, additional focus can be put on some regions more than others.

This workout will require you to grab a bar with a wide grip and bend forward until your torso is parallel to the floor. Let your shoulders bend and ensure you don’t round your back excessively.

You may be tempted to pause at the top as a technique to know what the top position feels like. Pausing after the beginning stage is not necessary since it quickly fatigues the bicep and forearm muscles.

Targeted Muscles: Mid and upper back, lats, rhomboids

Requirements: Barbell

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Exercise Mechanics: strength, bodybuilding

Exercise type: Isolation


  • Put a barbell on the ground. Load it with light to medium weight.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and step forth such that the barbell is over the middle part of your feet.
  • Hold the bar with an overhand grip such that your hands are slightly outside your knees.
  • Engage your abs and back as you lift the barbell off the ground until you can stand straight. Ensure your back is straight.
  • Keep the tension in your back and abs. Move your hips backward until your back is almost parallel to the ground. Straighten your arms down and keep your head straight.
  • At this point, your elbows should be tucked. Move your elbows up to move the barbell up towards your belly.
  • Contract your lats, pause for a few seconds and gently resume the starting position.
  • Keep the tension in your core and back.
  • Repeat for the desired set of reps. Aim for3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

Your lower back will be under constant tension since it is responsible for keeping you stable as you perform the barbell rows. This can limit you as you strive to complete the set.

Due to this tension, all barbell rows should be limited between 10-12 reps. If the weight is too heavy, you may be tempted to cheat.


  • Grip the bar slightly wider than your shoulder width.
  • Ensure you bend until your hips are parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your elbows tight in your body as you pull the bar towards your belly.
  • Let your shoulder blades bend. This will stretch the targeted muscles to the utmost capacity and engage the muscles as they should.


The overhand barbell row primarily targets your mid and upper back-the lats and rhomboids. The lats form the largest muscle mass at the back. The lats are responsible for many pulling drills like the lat pull-ups and other rowing exercises.

When you squeeze the rhomboids at the top of each rep, they move your shoulder blades close together.

The overhead barbell row also works the forearms, abs, rear deltoids, traps, and other back muscles. Your biceps and forearms squeeze to push the weight up as you work out. The barbell row generally works your whole upper body.



When performing various back workouts like lat pulldowns, you usually have equipment that helps to keep you steady. With overhead barbell rows, your body depends on itself for stability. The instability involved as you work out will push you to work even harder to maintain the right process throughout the session. The overhead barbell row is a back exercise, but it engages many muscles all over your body for stability.


Most current jobs in the industry today are pulled using computers. These jobs will have you reclining your back behind a desk all day. With regular overhead barbell rows, you can ease this slouching posture by exercising the muscles that keep your shoulders in the right position. This exercise will activate the less engaged muscles to minimize discomfort or backpains.


The overhead barbell row puts intense tension on your back muscles as a back exercise. Your back muscle cells consequently respond through a process known as hypertrophy to increase in size. You will build a stronger, bigger back in no time!

As we all know, a sturdy back is visually pleasing. You want to walk around all confident and poised. The sturdy back will make you look attractive and improve your athletic performance and many other compound lifts.



The neutral grip lat pulldown is a back exercise that engages the lats and rhomboids and has similar benefits to an overhand barbell row.

Requirements: Cable machine,


  • Begin with a standard position. Hold the bar with a wide grasp.
  • Exhale and lower the bar until it is approximately leveled with your chin. Even though twisting a little backward is okay, ensure your upper torso isn’t moving. Keep your feet on the floor, and remember to engage your abs as you pull. Be sure to halt the motion when you can’t move your elbows down without tilting backward.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades to maintain square shoulders.
  • With the bar parallel to your chin, return the bar gently to the starting point and control its gradual climb. Ensure the bar doesn’t crash on the weight plates.
  • Repeat until you complete the desired set of reps. Have short intervals of rest, then complete the sets.


Below are some common mistakes people often make when performing overhand barbell rows.


Many lifters often bend their wrists and use their arms to push the weight up. If you lift too much weight, you realize you generate momentum to begin the motion. This will reduce the engagement of the targeted muscles, cause you to bounce at the top of each rep, and defy the drill’s goal in the first place. Load lighter weights instead and focus on the proper technique to execute the drill properly.


This is another common overhead barbell mistake. This mistake is usually traced to a faulty beginning posture or relaxing your back posture between reps. Rounding your back puts you in a position that can easily cause you accidents and injury as you work out. Be sure to keep your chest up and engage your back neutrally to maximize the safety and effectiveness of this barbell workout.


Lifters often flare their elbows out as they work out. Doing this shifts unnecessary pressure into your lower back and shoulders. Doing this risks your shoulders and back and reduces your potential gains by shifting the tension from your mid-back.

Correct it by keeping your elbows tucked 45 degrees from your body.


Whether you are a weight lifter, bodybuilder, or just a general exerciser, you should incorporate overhead barbell rows in your workout routine. This exercise will build and strengthen your back and forearms. Remember to follow a healthy diet plan, rest well, and get a healthier, fitter body. Consistency is key to this workout drill; make it regular and see for yourself just how beneficial this drill can be.

Give it a try!