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Can't barbell row [Article, free Download]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Apr 12, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Can't barbell row

Can't barbell row

Most likely the 20kg bar is too heavy for you. Start with dumbbells or kettlebells which are lighter to progress to the barbell

 Download the free Rogue barbell Overview

What is your why 


Before we go into the details of why you can’t barbell row let me ask you a couple of questions: 


  • Why do you want to barbell row 
  • Why do you want to get stronger 
  • Why do you want to build muscle 
  • What happens when you do 
  • What happens if you don’t 


These questions might seem not important to you. You might think that I am crazy and that I should get back to the point. What I am asking you is what is your point? Sitting down and thinking about your goals will make it more likely to achieve your goal. Most people do not go through this process. More often than not the pattern is this:


  • What do I want 
  • How do I get it 
  • Why do I want it 


This is a very good way to wreck your happiness and well being. What you want changes 100 of times a day based on who you are with, what you do and where you are. Chasing what you want is like chasing your own tail. Ultimately you will not be happy and fulfilled. Instead, flip these questions on their head: 


  • Why do you want something 
  • How do you get it 
  • What do you need to do to get it 


Flipping the sequence of these questions on their head will connect all of your actions and thoughts to one purpose. This will make you happier and feel more fulfilled. Being happy, friendly and driven will it more likely that others help you. And now, what happens, you just have created a snowball. This will fix that you can not lift a barbell at the moment in the long run. If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's thinking fast and slow. Still not convinced? Check out Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle. He makes a very compelling case telling the story of the Wright brothers. 


The barbell row 


The barbell row is a barbell movement which either starts from the ground or the hips. From the starting position, you will move the barbell to your chest and then back down. Sounds simple enough? Well, it might not be as easy as you think. 


The first thing is that you can start the movement from almost any position between the floor and the hips. I recommend lifting the barbell to the hips and from there lower it to the desired starting point. Interesting variations of the barbell row are the Yates row and pendulum row. Try them Out some day. 


Hand placement for the barbell row


The wider your grip is the harder the barbell row becomes. With a wider grip, you are not able to get your bicep and triceps into the movement to the same extent. To get the most leverage grip the bar about shoulder wide apart. If you want to focus on your lats go wider. 


You can also play around with the double overhand, the hook grip and the reversed grip for the barbell row. Check out Chris Duffin for some crazy rowing variations which will make you cry about your deadlift. 


Body English 


Body English is also a controversy about the barbell row. Body English means how much you are allowed to use your body to move the barbell in the row. One school says that there should be no movement of the upper body during the barbell row whatsoever. The other school says anything goes as long as the weight moves to your chest. 


Bodybuilders tend to favor less body English while powerlifters advise more movement. I agree. 


Alternatives to the barbell row 


As you are not able to do the barbell row here are some alternative ms for you:



Unless your movement range is impaired the most likely reason for your struggles is that you are not strong enough to row a barbell. A standard barbell weighs 20kg. For women the standard weight is 15kg, but most gyms do not stock the 15kg versions. There are also technique bars at 10kg and 5kg which are constructed the same way as a barbell but weigh less. Most people do not have access to these. The best alternative is to use dumbbells or kettlebells which are lighter than 20kg to start to progress. 


Can’t barbell row 


If you can not barbell row check your grip and get it a bit narrower. If that does not work either go for a lighter barbell or pick up dumbbells and kettlebells

Topics: Lift stronger, Fitness, Strength