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October 08, 2021 8 min read


If you're looking to build up those pull muscles without the need to do a bunch of pull-ups than horizontal rows may just be the workout for you. Like pull-ups horizontal rows activate the pull muscles which in this case include your back muscles as well as your biceps and forearms without requiring you to lift your entire body off the ground in the process.

What Are Horizontal Rows?

Horizontal rows are a calisthenic exercise that primarily target your latissimus dorsi, considered one of the largest muscles found in our body. Your lats are located on the upper lower back and even extend near the side of your waist area.

Many people refer to wings since they help a lot with movements, from pushing activities such as  push-ups to pulling actions such as pull-ups.

In horizontal rows, you use resistance bands or weight machines for better support to give you a more challenging workout session. In this particular exercise, it's where you lie face down on a bench while holding onto both ends of a barbell then using your arms to pull yourself up.

Why Should You Do Horizontal Rows?

Pull workouts that can help you build stronger arms and soldiers are always great for anyone looking so build muscle endurance and be more attractively physically. Doing horizontal rows will help you build up your arms so that you'll be able to do more pull-ups, curls, and other workouts that require a good but of muscle endurance in the upper-body.

Here are some reasons why you should do horizontal rows:

  • They target the main muscles of your upper body, such as your back, shoulders, arms, and chest.
  • They tones your muscle groups effectively 
  • They are highly adaptable
  • It can help improve posture by strengthening muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
  • They help develop a stronger core.

How To Perform Horizontal Rows

  1. First, lie down face up on a bench or squat rack with both feet planted firmly on the ground, then position your shoulder blades just below the top edge.
  2. Extend your arms fully above you so they're close to touching the floor, and grip a barbell with both hands. 
  3. With your arms fully extended and your upper body held in place, pull yourself up towards the bar as you exhale and contract your back muscles. 
  4. Hold the contraction for a second, then slowly lower down to the initial position as you inhale.

Tips To Remember:

  • Keep your head, neck, and spine neutral as you do this exercise 
  • Avoid jerking or swinging motions as it can cause injury instead of benefiting your workout routine 
  • Always keep safety first by using proper form and technique during all exercises 
  • This is a compound exercise so make sure that you have enough rest between sets if doing this regularly

Beginners could quickly start with an 'under hand' grip, which means holding onto the bar with their palms facing them. Then step up to an 'overhand' grip with their palms facing away from them for greater strength.

The primary horizontal rows are where you hold on to a barbell or dumbbells, which can be adjusted depending on your workout routine. Other variations of this exercise could lessen the amount of effort needed by having handles attached to resistance bands instead of doing it directly with weights.

Horizontal Row Forms

  • Back Bow - known as one of the best forms because it targets the lats and other areas such as your shoulders, arms, and even chest.
  • Front Bow - adds a stronger challenge to your back muscles like the regular back bow but also strengthens your legs simultaneously, which makes this a calisthenics compound exercise.
  • Bent Arm - can elevate both feet on a bench or platform for giving you more leverage and momentum by using bent arm movements.
  • Straight Arm - For doing this form, you should put both feet firmly onto the ground so you can stabilize yourself better, then position your shoulder blades just below the top edge of a bench while holding onto either bell or dumbbells.

Horizontal Rows For Back Workouts

This workout is best for those who want to strengthen and tone their back, such as the lats, rhomboids, and other parts like the shoulders, arms, and even chest.

This exercise can also be used as a form of  rehabilitation because it targets muscles that should be toned up after an injury or accident.

Rowing Horizontal Form Instructions:

  1. Using your legs (bending them at first) to boost yourself up with overhead movements.
  2. Arching your back helps you contract your lats more than taking this support away from just using your knees to lift yourself up.
  3. Pulling your elbows close to your body while doing horizontal rows gives you a good back workout routine.
  4. Make sure not to jerk or swing your body while doing this form.
  5. Contract your back muscles once you're up in the final position.
  6. There should always be a slight bend on your elbow when doing this exercise for beginners and advanced trainees to prevent injuries while working out.
  7. Exhale while going down into an 'underhand' back bow or front bow movement so you can contract your lats more than slowly inhaling as you go back up to the starting position.

Horizontal Rows Routine:

  • Bent Arm - Underhand Grip : 4 sets / 10 reps
  • Straight Arm - Overhand Grip : 3 sets / 12 reps 
  • Front Bow - Alternating Arms : 3 sets / 12 reps 
  • Back Bow - Underhand Grip : 4 sets / 12 reps 
  • One Arm - Underhand Grip : 3 sets / 10 reps 
  • Straight Arm - Overhand Grip: 4 sets / 10 reps

History of Horizontal Rows

This exercise has been around ever since the ancient Greeks and Romans as a strength training exercise which can be seen from amphora pottery drawings from 2500 years ago. According to research, this particular workout has also been used throughout the middle ages than by army camps during WWII to boost their recruits' physical fitness.

Horizontal Rows Alternatives

One of the best ways to build up your back muscles is through pull-ups. This exercise is essential for developing a strong and  powerful upper body.

One of the most common workouts is using a pull-up bar or resistance bands to do chin-ups or muscle-ups, which targets the same areas for people looking for an alternative.

People who are into bodybuilding may use horizontal rows as one of their main workout routines. Other people may want to do the exercise so they can fit into their clothes better. 

It is easy to do at home - there is no heavy lifting involved, so people can focus on working out instead of worrying about buying equipment.Some people like to do horizontal rows as one of their workouts. But it depends on what kind of workout they are doing. 

If someone wants to be fit, they can do this exercise at home without any heavy lifting equipment. There are no variations for this particular exercise, but you can change your grip on the handles to target different muscles in your back. 

  • Choose an underhand grip or overhand grip. 
  • Grip the handles near your hips, waist or close to your chest.

Some people who are into bodybuilding might use horizontal rows as one of their main workouts. They might be part of the overall training plan that they have created for themselves but other people want to get better at their jobs or just feel more confident in what they wear, so they can perform this exercise without heavy lifting at home.

Combining Horizontal Rows With Other Exercises

You can also combine this particular workout with compound workouts like push-ups or  chest presses and inverted rows or chin-ups to tone up the muscles in your back faster.

inverted row

People who are into sports can also use this workout together with other  ab strap workouts like knee raises, hip thrusts, hanging leg raises, or bent knee hangs. People who want to isolate their  upper back muscles should do horizontal rows at the end of their workout since it's considered an isolation type of exercise.

You're targeting one particular muscle group only instead of hitting multiple muscle groups at once for maximum toning benefits.

Horizontal Row Variations

There are no variations for this exercise, but you may change certain parts of your body where you will be performing the routine to target other muscles in your back. 

You can choose to do it with an underhand grip or overhand grip, which is done by gripping the handles either near your hips, waist or even closer to your chest. To strengthen your back, you should use a wider range of motion. You can also make this exercise harder by using more resistance. 

The other option is to lessen the weight if it is too hard for you to lift while performing rows at home. Don't worry if this feels too hard - start with 5lb weights and slowly work your way up every week until you are comfortable handling heavier weights during this workout routine.

How To Do Better Horizontal Rows

This exercise only has one form, but you can change different parts of your body to target other muscles in your back. You can choose an overhand or underhand grip, which is done by holding the handles at different places on your body.

People who are into fitness and healthy living may want to use heavy weights to tone their muscles faster. But they shouldn't do this too much because it will be hard for them if they are not training for bodybuilding purposes.

To avoid injuries, make sure to have enough space from the wall when grabbing handles. This will make you safe. When doing this workout at home, make sure there are no sharp objects nearby to avoid accidentally bumping into them while lifting weights or performing back exercises.

It is extremely important to have good posture when you're doing this specific workout. Why? Because the results will be much better and more effective if your body's in a stable position while you're exercising.

If you do this, you will avoid injuries common among people who are new to exercising. You will be able to focus on the parts of your body that need help, like your back muscles.

Horizontal Rows Safety Precautions

Horizontal rows are a great way to exercise your upper body but to ensure you're doing them correctly, always follow the safety precautions. Be careful when doing horizontal rows because it could lead to injuries if not done correctly, especially for beginners who are still adjusting to this intense workout routine.

Here are some safety precautions when doing this workout:

  1. Always make sure that your body is aligned in a proper straight line with both feet planted firmly on the ground.
  2. Keep your head, neck, and spine neutral as you do this exercise.
  3. Avoid jerking or swinging motions to avoid injuries.
  4. Make sure that your back is flat throughout the entire movement to avoid injury, especially for beginners who are still adjusting.
  5. Proper form and technique should always be kept in mind during all exercises. 
  6. This is a compound exercise so make sure that you have enough rest between sets if doing this regularly

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned how to do horizontal rows properly and know what makes the some beneficial in building strong arms, shoulders, and a healthy back you can enhance your workout with some solid supplements to help you build strength over time. With that being said, we suggest checking out our Elite Pre-Workout Stack which can fuel the body and increase muscle tone and hardness.