Supported T-Bar Row Exercise Guide
The supported T-bar row is similar to bent row (bent-over barbell row) and allows you to concentrate on working your back because you do not have to focus too much on positioning. In other words, this variation requires less effort to stabilize body position during the row, because one end of the bar pivots at a fixed point on the floor.
Using the chest support for this variation of T-bar rows reduces a large amount of supporting muscles especially in the lower back, abs, and thighs. T-bar rows with chest or abdominal support can be a nice break if you have recently performed thigh exercises and you don’t have the power to support your weight plus the heavy load associated with T-bar rows. Also, if you have lower back problems this is a great solution. If you have lower back problems, you might want to avoid both barbell and freestanding T-bar rows.
Supported T-Bar Row Exercise Instructions
STARTING (INITIAL) POSITION: Place your feet on the platform and your chest and abdomen on the angled pad. Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip, unrack it, and begin with your arms extended in front of you.
EXERCISE EXECUTION (ACTION): Keeping your torso flush against the pad, pull the bar toward you (pull the bar up to the top of the abdomen) by bending your elbows and contracting your back muscles. At the top of the motion, squeeze your shoulder blades together for full contraction, then slowly lower the bar back to the start position.
- Use lighter weights. This exercise can be difficult to perform with a heavy weight load. The chest becomes greatly compressed due to the pressure of the chest pad, therefore making it difficult to breathe.
- Lie on the pad of the T-bar row machine with your chest supported and your feet firmly planted on the foot platform. Take a wide, overhand grip on the handles and unhook the bar from the rack and support it with your arms hanging down at full extension.
- Pull the bar as high as the apparatus will allow and pause at the top before lowering to a full stretch at the bottom.
- Don’t bounce or jerk the weight up.
Muscles Involved in Supported T-Bar Row
Supported T-bar row (T-bar row with abdominal/chest support) 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)
Substitutes (Replacement Exercises)
To add variety to your middle back workout routine, replace the supported 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.
- Machine row
- Bent over barbell row
- Seated cable row
- Freestanding T-bar row
- Body row
- One arm dumbbell row
- Two-arm dumbbell row
- As with freestanding (unsupported) T-bar rows, feel free to use any and all grip variations that the apparatus has to offer.
- 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. Check with the gym’s management first, however.
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.
Advantages. The supported 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, the supported T-bar rows and pull-ups are complementary exercises for the back.
Disadvantages. The leaning forward position does not promote intense work because it tends to interfere with breathing. Some machines and pulleys allow you to work from a seated position, which will help you avoid an inclined position.
Risks. Even though the incline to 145 degrees is less dangerous than the 90-degree position, rowing is still risky for the back, especially with heavy weights. The supported T-bar row machine supports the spine using a thoracic support. But the larger this support is, the more your rib cage will be compressed, and this can interfere with your breathing.