What is the T Bar Row? (T Bar Rows for a bigger back)

What is the t bar row?

What is the T Bar Row?

The T Bar row is a resistance exercise that targets the major muscles in your back. Before the days of cable and row machines, it was a staple for all bodybuilders and essential for a thick, wide back. You will still see it being performed regularly in gyms all over the world as it allows you to train your back with heavy resistance and a low risk of injury.

Which muscles are targeted by T Bar Rows?

T Bar rows are a compound exercise that targets the major muscles in your back. The Latissimus Dorsi is the main muscle in the back for adding width and thickness. This comes under heavy tension during T Bar rows as do the Rhomboids and Trapezius muscles. 

Your lower back is engaged to support your core in the bent-over position whilst your posterior deltoid and bicep muscles are activated as stabilisers and assisters. The number of muscles activated during this movement makes it a great compound exercise for packing on mass and increasing overall strength, 

Muscles Worked with T-Bar Rows

The bent-over stance adopted for the T Bar row will also bring your leg muscles into play to a lesser extent. Your quads and hamstrings assist in giving you a steady stance and hinging the hip joint. 

What are the benefits of T Bar Rows?

T Bar rows are beneficial for both strength trainers and bodybuilders. Strength trainers will find that any rowing exercise that strengthens the back will assist in pulling exercises such as deadlifts. A strong back is also essential for big bench press numbers.

Bodybuilders will dedicate a lot of time to growing their back. A common saying in bodybuilding is 'If you wanna grow you have to row!'A well developed back will add thickness to your upper body, and width to the top of your frame and promote good posture.

Whether you are a beginner looking to pack on some mass or an experienced lifter, T Bar rows are an exercise that should be a priority in your routine. 

How do I perform a T Bar Row?

T bar rows are one of the easier exercises to learn. They are not as complex as a deadlift or squat and, as a beginner movement, are far easier than a bent-over barbell row. They are also a 'total' back exercise as pretty much all of the muscles in your back are activated. 

If you do not have a dedicated T bar station at your gym, simply grab an Olympic bar, slot one end into a landmine post or support it on a couple of weight plates. Load the other end with your desired weight plates and hook on a T Bar attachment. 

t bar rows with landmine

This is what your set-up should look like if you do not have a dedicated T Bar row station or machine. The exercise, movement and muscles targeted are exactly the same as if using a purpose-built station you just do not get the convenience of an elevated bar for loading or the support of a chest pad.

Once you are set up with the bar attachment and desired weight, straddle the bar with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slightly bend your knees, hinge at the hip and bend over the weight plates with a straight spine. Grab the handles with an overhand grip and take a deep breath. 

Upon exhale, row the bar towards your lower chest keeping your knees bent, back straight and elbows tucked in. Lower the bar to within an inch or two from the ground before repeating the movement for the desired number of reps and sets. 

How to use a T Bar row machine.

If you are lucky enough to have access to a T bar row machine, performing this exercise will be a lot easier. You have the benefit of being able to load a bar that is already supported off the ground, the support of a chest pad and the stability of a dedicated footplate. 

How do I use a t bar row machine

T Bar machine rows are performed in exactly the same way as a standard T Bar row with a barbell bar. Having the support of a chest pad means that you do not have tension on your lower back or upper legs. 

It is also harder to cheat the movement as you can not jerk at the knees or swing from your back. 

T bar Rows vs. Bent Over Rows

There are a few key differences between t bar rows and regular, bent over rows. 

First, with T bar rows, you have the advantage of being able to lift more weight. 

Second, T bar rows allow you to get a greater range of motion and squeeze the lats.

Third, because of the way they are performed, T bar rows also work your core muscles more than regular rows do.

So, which is better? Ultimately, it depends on your goals. If you're looking to add mass or build strength, then T bar rows are probably the better option. 

However, if you're trying to tone your body or improve your endurance, then regular rows might be a better choice.

Ideally, both should be a part of your training routine along with cable rows, pullovers and lat pulldowns.


In conclusion, the T bar row is a great exercise for building back strength, mass and definition. If you are lucky enough to have a T bar row machine or a landmine bar with a row attachment in your gym, take full advantage of it and enjoy the gains. 

By mixing T bar rows with other rowing and pulling exercises, you will get the maximum from your hypertrophy or strength training program. 

We hope that you have found this article useful and that you now know the answer to the original question - what is the t bar row?

If you are looking for a great hypertrophy program, check out our FREE bodybuilding program, HyperGrowth by clicking on this link.

Alternatives to T bar Rows.

Barbell Row

Dumbbell Row

Lat Pulldown

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