Freestanding T-Bar Row Exercise Guide
Your gym may have a T-bar machine in which you rest on a pad, leaning forward, and grab hold of a cross bar, or it may have a bar with one end bolted to the floor. Either way, T-bars provide an effective alternative to barbell rows. Freestanding T-bar row is similar to barbell rows and allows you to concentrate on working your back because you do not have to focus too much effort on positioning.
Freestanding T-Bar Row Exercise Instructions
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Stand on the platform with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Lean forward and take a wide, overhand (palms-down) grip on the handles. Begin with your arms extended below you and your torso about 45 degree to the floor. Keep your back arched throughout the movement. Hold yourself firmly in position.
ACTION (MOVEMENT): Slowly move through a full range of motion, pulling all the way to your chest at the top (to the top of the abdomen) and lowering to a full stretch at the bottom. At the top of the rep, squeeze your shoulder blades together, than slowly lower the weight back to the start position.
Freestanding T-Bar Row Tips & Tricks
- Always keep your chest out and lower back arched. In other words, keep your upper body stationary, and lift the plates with only your back muscles and arms.
- Pull the bar up to the top of the abdomen, keeping your elbows open and squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
- Keep your back steady with your weight toward your heels as you lift. If your weight moves toward the front of your feet, the focus shifts to your traps. Lower the weight if you have trouble remaining stationary as you lift.
- Because of the position for this exercise, it is necessary to inhale just before you lower the weight, then hold your breath and exhale over the last third of the upward movement without releasing all of the air.
- Common mistakes: swinging the body too far forward; incomplete set or movement; curving the spine and overall poor technique.
- If your gym does not have a specially designed T-bar, or machine, you can do the same movement with one end of a regular Olympic bar pinned in a corner.
- If you have lower back problems, you might want to avoid both barbell and T-bar rows. If you must do them, start off by using light weight.
Muscles Involved In Freestanding T-Bar Row
Freestanding T-bar row uses mainly the latissimus dorsi, teres major, infraspinatus, rhomboids, trapezius (mainly the middle portion), and the flexors of the forearm.
- MAIN MUSCLES: latissimus dorsi, teres major and minor, deltoid (rear)
- SECONDARY MUSCLES: rhomboids, biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis, trapezius, infraspinatus,
(lower back muscles)
- ANTAGONISTS: pectoralis major, triceps, deltoid (front)
- Feel free to use any and all grip variations that the apparatus has to offer. Most T-bar row apparatuses offer multiple grip position (wide, narrow, neutral). Alternate grips every other workout, or even every other set, to train the back muscles from various angles.
- Supported T-bar rows. Some row apparatus provide an inclined chest pad to support the torso and minimize load across the lower spine.
- If your gym does not have a specially designed T-bar, or machine, you can do the same movement with one end of a regular Olympic bar pinned in a corner. Using an Olympic-size (45-pound) bar, wedge one end in a corner and place a weight plate on the other end. Wrap two wrist straps or a V-handle around the bar just below the weight. If you have something heavy – a dumbbell or sandbag – to put over the bar to steady it, use it.
Exercise Substitutes (Replacement Exercises)
To add variety to your middle back workout routine, replace the freestanding T-bar rows with a different exercise that works the same muscles (latissimus dorsi). Use dumbbells, cables, barbell, a gym machine or even your own body weight to perform the rowing motion.
Let’s look at the best middle back exercises with the rowing motion for building muscle and strength.
- Two-arm dumbbell row
- Seated cable row
- Body row
- Bent over barbell row
- One arm dumbbell row
- Machine row
- Supported T-bar row
Freestanding T-bar row strengthens the back and develops good posture and form. The movement works all the muscles of the back as well as the rear deltoid (shoulder) muscles. Freestanding T-bar rows first target the muscles in the inner back. Compared to pull-ups, rows help you gain more thickness but less width. So rows and pull-ups are complementary exercises for the back.