Cast the Engorgio Charm and Grow Your Back with These Row Variations
When it comes to building an impressive, head-turning physique, training your back is crucial.
A big back not only makes you look larger, but it will skyrocket your strength gains on big lifts like front squats and deadlifts.
When you’re at the gym, however, you’ll notice most people performing the same back exercises each session.
- Bent-over barbell rows
- One arm dumbbell rows
- Seated cable rows
- Weighted Chin-ups
This week, I want to cover a few lesser known back exercises that will help you build incredible strength and put you on the Hogwarts Express of impressive muscle gains.
One-Arm Landmine Rows
This row variation hits your lats, upper back, and your biceps better than most back exercises.
One-arm landmine rows go a step further because they also ignite your core.
To maintain a neutral spine in this position, your core has to engage to fight rotation.
Who doesn’t want to build a stronger core without boring ass sit-ups, which by the way are about as useful as sensitivity training course with Professor Umbridge.
If you’ve mastered the one arm dumbbell row, or if your gym doesn’t stock dumbbells above 80 pounds, this variation will take your back training to the next level.
Yes, I’m aware that not all gyms will have a landmine, in that case, wedge one end of a barbell into a corner of the wall, like in the video below.
Larger plates prevent full range of motion with this exercise. To prevent this, use 10-pound plates instead of the 45’s.
Maintain soft knees, hinge at your hips, keeping a straight spine from the top of your head to your ass.
Grab the bar and start the movement by pulling through your elbow—driving your elbow towards your hip.
Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps of this on each side.
This row variation is one of the best for strengthening your mid back.
Not every gym will have a T-Bar machine, though.
If it doesn’t, like the landmine row above, shove one end of the barbell in the corner of a wall.
Place 25 or 35 pound plates on the front end of the bar.
Then grab the V-Bar attachment usually used on the seated cable row. This will be your handle.
Stand over the bar and wedge the V-Bar underneath the barbell, creating a handle.
Hinge with your hips to grab both sides of the V-bar attachment, then row the bar to your chest.
Release back to the starting position.
Perform 4 sets of 10-12 reps of this movement at the beginning or end of your workout.
The 3-Point Dumbbell is my go-to row variation with clients.
Not only does it build strength and size in your back and arms, but it also hits your core.
If you find that you struggle to keep a neutral spine while rowing, give this variation a try.
When you start the row motion, make sure to bring the dumbbell in towards your hip You should feel your lats squeeze with each rep.
Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps per side with a 4th set of as many reps as possible.
If you’re struggling to build a stronger back, you may be lacking strength in a key area, your grip.
A recent study was published that claimed that millennials have far weaker grips than their parents before them.
My dad was a pretty strong guy when I was a kid and even he admits that his father had more grip strength than him.
But hey, when you build barns and houses with your bare hands, you’re gonna have more grip strength than your grandson who makes his living online.
When it comes to strength in the gym, a weaker grip is one reason why many fail to get stronger.
Kroc Rows will not only cause your back to get jacked, but it will also help you level up your forearm and grip strength.
These are high-rep, heavy one arm dumbbell rows.
You should be repping the heaviest weight you can lift for at least 20 reps, if not more.
Here are a couple key technique points that will get you jacked beyond belief with Kroc Rows.
- When you hit the bottom of the row, let your shoulder drop and feel the stretch in your lats, middle, and upper back.
- As you hit the top of the row, retract your scapula as far back as possible. While pulling your elbow up and back–squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Matt Kroc believed the best way to perform these was with a slight inward 45-degree angle rather than holding the dumbbell parallel.
Make Gargantuan Back Gains
Bloggers and fit pros on the internet will often say, “if you want to grow, you’ve got to row.”
Since I’m a Squibb, I can’t scream “engorgio” to get my back to grow.
But these row variations help me make substantial gains all year round.
Leave the bent over rows and the weighted chin ups on the sideline for a bit and give these row variations a try.