The underhand row is a primary row variation performed using a barbell. This exercise mainly targets the lats and biceps.
You will be using an underhand grip, which will force you to tuck your elbows to your sides, therefore you will not flare out your elbows.
The lat muscles are the most responsible for this plane. The lower back plays an essential role in the row as well-it aids the isometric contraction throughout the motion.
The underhand barbell row also works the rhomboids, quads, and gluteal muscles. This workout guarantees excellent hypertrophy and muscle-focused torso workout.
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Also known as Barbell Underhand Bent Over Row
Targeted Muscle Group: Lats, Upper Back, Shoulders, Biceps
Required Equipment: Barbell/Dumbbell
Exercise Type: Strength
Exercise Mechanics: Compound
Force Type: Pull
- Stand in an erect position with your feet hip-width apart and grip a barbell with an underhand grip. (Supinated grip)
- Slightly bend your knees and move your torso frontwards by bending at your waist.
- Maintain a straight back as you move until it is almost aligned with the floor.
- Ensure your head is raised. The barbell should be hanging in front of you and your hands should be hanging vertical to the floor and your upper body. This is the starting position.
- While maintaining your torso at a fixed position, raise the barbell and exhale.
- Keep your elbows tucked to your sides and ensure you hold the weight without any force except the forearm.
- In the contracted position, contract your back muscles. Pause and hold at that position for a few seconds.
- Lower the weight slowly to resume the initial position.
- Repeat the movement until you achieve the recommended sets of reps.
- For better stability, you can perform this exercise on a Smith machine.
- Avoid injuries and keep your biceps and elbows safe by keeping the elbow joint slightly bent.
- Begin with a lighter weight and concentrate on perfecting your form before increasing the resistance.
- Brace your core for better stability.
- Perform a variation that targets the muscles you’re looking to prioritize more.
- Avoid using a narrow grip since this will interfere with the correct arm alignment and can strain the wrist and elbow more.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE UNDERHAND ROW
The underhand row works the entire back. The most activated muscles are the latissimus dorsi, mid and lower traps, and the rear delts.
When you perform this exercise using the correct technique, you should feel these areas work as you pull the barbell. You can target particular muscles of the back more than others if you make some adjustments to your technique.
This entirely depends on the back muscles you would like to focus on more, both functionally and aesthetically. The lower back facilitates the isometric contraction throughout the motion.
BENEFITS OF THE UNDERHAND ROW
Since the underhand row involves midline stabilization through the motion, it does not put too much strain on the delts. This exercise trains the lats, shoulders, hamstrings, and glutes, making it ideal for stabilizing and strengthening the shoulder joints. Likewise, this workout strengthens the core and builds the mind-muscle connection.
This exercise recruits more muscle fibers in the back and lats than other pulling workouts like lat pull up and lat pulldown, and is essential for preventing workout injuries. Likewise, this exercise improves shoulder stability for carrying out daily activities.
IMPROVES UPPER BODY AND CORE STRENGTH
The underhand row is a multi-joint workout that trains several muscle groups simultaneously. This makes it an ideal workout for targeting muscles and phases of the lift that help break through advanced stages to improve overall strength for pull-ups and compound lifts.
REDUCE RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASE AND BURN FAT
As you advance your upper body strength, you will also be building lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass increases the resting metabolic rate, consequently burning fat and improving the lean body composition.
Lean body composition translates to a reduced resting heart rate and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
ALTERNATIVES TO UNDERHAND ROW
LYING DUMBBELL ROW
Depending on your convenience, you can try out this alternative workout that targets the same musculature and offers the same benefits as those of the underhand barbell row.
Required Equipment: Dumbbells
- Incline a bench to a position you feel comfortable with-ideally at a 45-degree angle.
- Lie on the bench facing down, and grab the dumbbells with both hands.
- Ensure you plant your feet firmly on the ground for a solid base for executing the workout.
- While relaxing and hanging the arms, lift the dumbbells towards you and keep your elbows to your sides at the top of the rep.
- Resume the initial posture and repeat.
Tip: This movement can be challenging, therefore, begin with a weight you can control and focus on executing the workout with the correct technique.
Aim for 3 sets of 12 reps.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE UNDERHAND ROW
NOT ENGAGING YOUR CORE
How you control your core can define whether you will gain or damage your lower back. Before starting each rep, inhale and brace your core. This will help you keep your torso as solid as possible while you perform. If you exhale halfway through the rep, will instantly flex your spine and the tension will shift to your lower back.
STRAINING THE NECK AND SPINE
Straining your neck, spine, or both is one of the worst things you can do while performing this workout. When performing any workout always ensure your neck and spine are neutral to avoid putting unnecessary pressure that can cause strain on the surrounding muscles. If your torso is parallel to the floor, ensure your face is as well.
NOT BENDING OVER ENOUGH
Bending over properly provides a better range of motion when executing the underhand row. Bending over halfway reduces the time under tension for your lats. For you to build muscle, you have to break it down first. Having your body parallel makes a major difference compared to barely bending over.
When your torso is parallel, the barbell has to move further to reach your upper body rep-meaning you have to work more to move the weight.
Any row variation can train your torso, but this variation focuses on the lats and biceps and strengthens them more than an overhand or a neutral grip would. You will feel your delts sculpt more with each rep.
This workout provides you with great hypertrophy and a result-oriented upper body drill. You can widen your grip to focus better on the back muscles. For ultimate results, be sure to:
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Let your shoulders retract at the bottom of the rep.
- Use a supinated grip at shoulder width.
- Be consistent with this workout to achieve its optimum results.
Try it out.