Do Different Row Grips Matter?

Clang. Your barbell makes music as you set it again within the rack after your second set of rows. Breathless, you look over your shoulder. A close-by gymgoer unracks one other bar — loaded only a bit heavier than yours — for their very own set of bent-over rows. Their lats are a bit larger than yours, and, extra importantly, they’re utilizing a unique grip. Have you ever been doing it improper this entire time?

Again coaching is a should. It’s bodybuilding regulation that exhibits are received from the again; strength athletes depend on their backs to help them of their sports activities. Furthermore, many back-day staples (such because the bent-over row) are usually a bit extra bespoke than different mainstay actions. You’ll be able to customise all the things from gear to your personal posture to your grip. And it’s your grip that may matter greater than the remaining.

Man in red tank top focuses while performing bent-over row
Credit score: Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock

The appropriate row grip could make or break your back workout (sure, it issues). It may imply the distinction between a lat pump that leaves you feeling like you would fly out of the gymnasium or a pair of sore biceps and little else.

Right here’s what you should learn about row grips and tips on how to know which one is best for you.

The Greatest Row Grips

In terms of optimal back training, your grip of selection is floor zero. The way you maintain the load you’re working with throughout pulling workouts — notably rows — will affect which muscle groups work the toughest, the character of the train’s resistance curve, and rather more. 

Sorts of Row Grips

There’s a couple of approach to pores and skin a cat, and there’s positively a couple of approach to situate your grip once you row. To search out the fitting rowing grip, you should know what your choices are within the first place:

Select Your Hand Place

  • Pronated: A pronated, or overhand grip, is the usual grip most folk use once they row. The backs of your palms are seen whereas your palms face the ground.
  • Supinated: The supinated, or underhand, place is the other of the pronated place; flip your wrists round so your palms face upward.
  • Impartial: A impartial grip entails sustaining alignment between your hand and forearm; your palms face each other.
  • Thumbless: Generally referred to as a suicide grip, you could unwrap your thumbs from no matter you’re holding and squeeze the deal with with simply your forefingers. 

Select Your Grip Width

  • Slim: A slim grip width usually falls at shoulder width or nearer.
  • Medium: A medium or average grip width usually falls round 1.5 occasions shoulder width.
  • Large: A large grip usually falls wherever between 1.5 and over 2 occasions shoulder width.

You may as well combine and match your hand place and grip width. It’s actually doable to carry out a narrow-grip underhand row, wide-grip pronated row, or something in between (relying on your equipment of selection; there’s no approach to maintain a barbell with a impartial grip).

The Greatest Row Grip for Lats

Your lats are the largest muscle groups in your higher physique and are answerable for the lion’s share of your pulling energy. Effectively-developed lats additionally contribute to the enduring V-taper aesthetic. Some knowledge has proven that the next grip orientation leads to substantial lat activation: (1)

  • Hand Place: Overhand or impartial
  • Grip Width: Medium to vast 

The Greatest Row Grip for Higher Again

The trapezius, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids are however just a few of the various small muscle groups that make up the panorama of your upper back. These tissues help and create motion at your shoulder joint; coaching them is simply as essential for wholesome posture and good mechanics as it’s for beefing up your yoke.

If you wish to emphasize your higher again a bit greater than your lats, you may strive:

  • Hand Place: Overhand
  • Grip Width: Medium to vast

The Greatest Row Grip for Energy

Strength is all about maximizing your leverage and calling as many muscle groups into motion as you’ll be able to to maneuver a heavy weight. In some methods, this concept is antithetical to rowing for muscle progress, whereby you may alter your grip to restrict the exercise of sure muscle groups and prioritize others. 

Sure research have proven that most individuals will usually produce the very best quantity of pressure with the next grips: (2)

  • Hand Place: Overhand or underhand
  • Grip Width: Medium to slim

A lot of this knowledge was gathered from topics performing upper-body pulling actions just like the lat pulldown. There’s little analysis on how grip width influences muscle activation and mechanics in free-weight rows. Nevertheless, rows and pulldowns are technically comparable and work lots of the similar muscle groups, so you’ll be able to count on the rules to hold over (at the least partly). 

Do Completely different Row Grips Matter?

If you happen to’ve ever watched somebody crank out a set of eight pristine barbell row repetitions with a number of 45-pound weight plates on both facet, it’s completely regular to investigate their selections. Does an enormous row (and, consequently, an enormous again) come from regular progressive overload alone, or does your grip of selection truly matter that a lot? The brief reply is, nicely, form of. However the “lengthy” reply is way extra fascinating.

The Deciding Issue

Your physique is an intricate internet of levers; your hand is linked to your forearm, which is linked to…you get the concept. Due to this fact, adjusting your grip on a barbell or cable attachment will often change the place of your arm relative to your torso.

As you widen your grip, your elbows are likely to flare out extra to stay aligned along with your wrists. Flipping your palms to a supinated place will naturally encourage you to tuck your arms to your sides for a similar purpose.

A person working out with one arm dumbbell row.
Credit score: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

Grip model influences which components of your again work tougher than others, however that’s a technicality; the angle and place of your higher arm relative to your torso is what actually issues. (1)

This additionally aligns with how your again is constructed. A lot of your higher again muscle groups have horizontal fiber orientations that run left to proper. Flaring your arm locations the lever in alignment with these fibers. Conversely, the fibers of your lats run vertically. Tuck your arms in and you could give the lats higher leverage to contract. 

Contemplate these factors extra of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast rule, nevertheless it’s an ideal place to start out if you wish to optimize your grip on again day. 

For Muscle Progress

Understanding how your anatomy influences your efficiency is essential when you’re available in the market for muscle progress (aka hypertrophy). Nevertheless, it’s not the one issue influencing how briskly you’ll be able to develop.

mind-muscle connection begins along with your setup. An overhand, medium-grip barbell row could also be perfect for lat engagement on paper, however the juice isn’t well worth the squeeze if it causes elbow or shoulder discomfort.

Fiddle along with your grip to give attention to particular areas in your again, however provided that doing so doesn’t tarnish your enjoyment or make the motion uncomfortable

Shirtless man removes dumbbells from rack
Credit score: Peera_stockfoto / Shutterstock

One essential consideration: Many individuals discover underhanded rows and pulldowns helpful for partaking their lats as that grip place forces the higher arm to stay tucked towards the torso. Nevertheless, when you row or pull with a supinated grip, count on your ranges of again activation to drop off a bit. 

An underhanded grip provides your biceps higher leverage, so count on them to choose up among the load on the expense of your again. (3)

For Energy

Strength training is much less about muscular mastery and extra about perfecting a selected motion. Workout routines like rows and pulldowns will not be as intricate as a sumo deadlift or snatch, however it’s best to nonetheless prioritize good type to constantly achieve energy.

Concerning your grip of selection, widening your hand place will trigger your higher arm to flare out. This shifts some pressure away out of your lats and onto the smaller muscle groups in your higher again, limiting how a lot weight you’ll be able to transfer.

[Related: The Best Protein Powders On the Market for Muscle Gain]

If you happen to’re involved with rowing as closely as doable, preserve your grip comparatively slim and use an overhand (or impartial, if working with dumbbells or on a machine) hand place

What Muscle tissue Make Up Your Again?

You in all probability awoke the day after your first again exercise sore in locations you by no means knew you had. Your again performs host to essentially the most various muscular ecosystem in your total physique. That variety is generally right down to the free-moving nature of your shoulder joint. Listed here are the most important muscle groups you’ll end up engaged on again day:

Latissimus Dorsi

Your lats are the biggest muscle groups on the bottom of your torso. These fan-shaped tissues originate approach down in your lumbar backbone and stretch upward, attaching to your shoulder blade and the bone in your higher arm.

Man flexing back muscles
Credit score: Monkey Enterprise Pictures / Shutterstock

The first perform of your lats is to increase your shoulder. That’s, to convey your arm again into alignment along with your torso. You’ll end up working your lats once you carry out a row, pull-up, pulldown, pullover, or another motion that entails getting your arm again towards your physique. 

Higher Again

Your higher again isn’t a selected muscle; it’s a collection of small tissues that weave throughout your ribcage and combine along with your scapula. The foremost gamers in your higher again, although, and the muscle groups you’ll be able to feasibly practice within the gymnasium, are:

  • Trapezius (higher, center, and decrease)
  • Rhomboids
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus

And extra. Your shoulder blade is exclusive in that it “floats” freely in your ribcage and isn’t fastened bone-to-bone like your shin is to your thigh. 

As such, you make the most of all of those muscle groups in tandem to elevate, drop, retract, protract, and rotate your shoulder blades once you carry out again workouts. They will not be the prime muscle groups producing pressure in all instances, however they’re integral for general joint stability

What You Have to Know

You don’t must develop into an anatomy expert to get a very good again exercise. Understanding the character of your muscular system will help you choose and modify exercises, however you continue to must construct sweat fairness.

Crucial takeaway right here is that the muscle groups in your again work synergistically to maneuver your arm and shoulder; altering your grip width or hand place will alter the emphasis of sure muscle groups, however you’ll be able to’t sideline any one in all your again muscle groups altogether.

Carry out a Row, Correctly

The row is a bit like chess; straightforward to study, however troublesome to grasp. Chances are you’ll know what a very good row appears to be like like, however cranking out set after set of pristine repetitions is one other matter solely. To actually grasp (or, maybe, study for the primary time) the barbell bent-over row, it helps to take issues again to sq. one:

  1. Stand upright along with your ft underneath your hips and your shoulders drawn again. Maintain your arms loosely however keep a cosy, just-outside-shoulder-width grip on the barbell.
  2. Carry out a hip hinge. Brace your core, unlock your knees, and tip over on the waist. Descend till your torso is roughly parallel to the ground and permit the bar to naturally slide down your thighs. It’s best to really feel an enormous stretch in your hamstrings.
  3. The barbell must be round knee-level. From right here, pull your shoulders again to provoke the row and observe by way of along with your elbows.
  4. Row the bar into your decrease stomach. Pull as excessive as you comfortably can with good type, then reverse the movement.

Coach’s Tip: As you tire out, you’ll end up tempted to elevate your torso upright. Struggle that urge and keep in a stable hinged place all through.

Many of those technical components apply simply as nicely to a dumbbell, kettlebell, or cable. The hallmarks of a very good row are a locked-in torso and main with shoulder motion quite than pulling solely along with your arms. 

Your Takeaways

It’s completely regular to wish to perfect every facet of your workouts, particularly when you’re on the prowl for extra muscle or a brand new private document. Adjusting your grip throughout rowing workouts could make some degree of distinction within the high quality (and amount) of your outcomes.

  • Analysis carried out on upper-body pulling workouts exhibits that totally different hand positions or grip widths affect regional muscle activation.
  • You’ll be able to bias your lats greater than your higher again by rowing with a medium-width, overhand grip.
  • Conversely, widening your grip or utilizing a supine palm place will shift emphasis towards your higher again or biceps. 
  • The information present that whereas there’s a degree of change in again activation relying on grip model, the real-world variations are considerably minimal. (2)
  • You’ll be able to’t flip a barbell row right into a lat-only train by narrowing your grip, nor take away your lats from a set of pulldowns by flipping your palms round.
  • Your again works synergistically. Consider totally different row grips as seasoning, quite than the meat and potatoes.

Extra Coaching Content material


  1. Signorile, J. F., Zink, A. J., & Szwed, S. P. (2002). A comparative electromyographical investigation of muscle utilization patterns utilizing varied hand positions in the course of the lat pull-down. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 16(4), 539–546.
  2. Andersen, V., Fimland, M. S., Wiik, E., Skoglund, A., & Saeterbakken, A. H. (2014). Results of grip width on muscle energy and activation within the lat pull-down. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 28(4), 1135–1142. 
  3. Lusk, S. J., Hale, B. D., & Russell, D. M. (2010). Grip width and forearm orientation results on muscle exercise in the course of the lat pull-down. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 24(7), 1895–1900.

Featured Picture: Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock 

Trending Merchandise

Add to compare
IRON °FLASK Sports Water Bottle – 32 Oz, 3 Lids (Straw Lid), Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel, Double Walled…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Water Bottle Insulated 32oz 40oz 64oz 128oz Straw Lid Spout Lid & 3 Lids, Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated,Stainless Steel…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Venture Pal Large 64 oz/Half Gallon Motivational Water Bottle with 2 Lids (Chug and Straw), Leakproof BPA Free Sports…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Coldest Sports Water Bottle with Straw Lid Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Metal Thermos Bottles Reusable Leak Proof…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 HYDROLOGY Adventure Water Bottle with 3 LIDS | Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth | Sports Hot…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 Hydrology Water Bottle – 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, or 64 oz with 3 LIDS Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless…
Add to compare
Add to compare
COKTIK 32 oz Sports Water Bottle With Straw,3 Lids, Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottles,Leakproof Lightweight…
Add to compare
Add to compare
HYDRARANK Half Gallon Water Bottle with Straw and Chug Lid – 2.2L Gym Water Jug with Storage Sleeve and Handle – BPA…
Add to compare
Add to compare
JoyJolt Borosilicate Glass Water Bottle with Strap, Silicone Sleeve and Lid (Grey). 20oz Water Bottles. Reusable Water…
Add to compare

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart