T-Bar Row Exercise – Avoid This Common Mistake


Do you want to strengthen your back? Or do you want to put yourself at risk of back injury?

Of course, you want to build your best back and avoid injury!

Rows are a great back-building exercise. As always in Strength Training, it is crucial to execute the workout with proper form in order to optimize your training session and minimize the risk of injury. Especially when performing exercises with an increased load, the potential for both strengthening and injury become increased.


Rows are a strength training exercise that mimics the movement of rowing a boat. The goal is to strengthen the muscles that bring the arms toward the body, as well as those that move the shoulder blades toward the spine.

There are many variations of the Row exercise. There is the traditional seated row, the upright row, and the bent-over row.  One variation of a “Bent-over row” is the T-Bar Row.


Which Muscles are worked in the T-Bar Row exercise?

The target muscle is the latissimus dorsi.

Additionally, this exercise works all the major back muscles – teres major, trapezius, and erector spinae.

The movement also works the shoulders and the pulling muscles in your arms — biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis.

The stabilizers include the abdominals, hamstrings, and glutes.

When executing the T-Bar Row, it is important to establish the correct form in order to avoid the risk of a back injury.


Lifting Injury Risk

When doing this exercise, it is essential to maintain a neutral spine. However, many trainers will flex the spine when executing the T-Bar Row.

Why do we flex the spine?

We do it because it’s comfortable; it’s easy and saves energy.

We rely on our ligaments!

As the spine begins to flex, it is supported by the muscles. However, as the spine approaches a state of full flexion, the support stops coming from the muscles and it comes from the intervertebral discs and ligaments.


So why shouldn’t we rely on our ligaments?!

A fully flexed spine is associated with high anterior shearing forces.

These ligaments cannot withstand an anterior shear force.

Neither can the muscles of a flexed spine.


Putting this kind of pressure onto the spine, either-

many times (when doing reps) or for long lengths of time or with an increased load, can increase the risk of a back injury.

In addition, repeated spinal flexion is a high-risk factor for herniated discs.


What is the proper position for the T-Bar Row?

Feet at shoulder width, hips set back, and knees bent.

A neutral spine/ back parallel to the floor.

Keep the elbows close to the body when lifting.


When the spine is neutral, the lumbar erectors have the ability to produce posterior shear force.

That is, it can reduce the anterior shear forces.

Keep your back straight, protect your back!


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Target Muscles

+Latissimus dorsi


+Teres Major

+Deltoid, Posterior deltoid


+Trapezius, Medial fibers

+Levator Scapulae

+ Biceps Brachii

+ Brachioradialis

+ Brachialis


+Erector spinae

+Gluteus Maximus

+Quadratos femoris

+ Wrist flexors

+ Subscapularis

+ Infraspinatus

+ Teres Minor

+ Supraspinatus

+ Abdominal muscles

+ Pelvic Diaphragm (male)

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