Glenn Pendlay was one of many main coaches in American weightlifting — he held a Level 5 accreditation from USA Weightlifting (the very best obtainable) and coached many high-level athletes to medals in nationwide and worldwide competitions.

In addition to his lifters’ success on the platform, he’s identified for popularizing a strength-building train often called the Pendlay row — a barbell row carried out from the ground to the abdomen every rep. The motion has been used to construct again energy and measurement in energy athletes and lifters of all ranges. Here’s easy methods to carry out this extremely efficient motion.

Pendlay Row Technique Video

Coach Greg Walsh demonstrates a textbook Pendlay Row. Note the almost horizontal torso, stationary higher physique, and full cease on the backside.

How to Do the Pendlay Row

The barbell row has been a long-running staple for constructing measurement and energy within the again, shoulders, and arms. The Pendlay row enforces particular method to extend energy output and make the goal muscle tissues work even tougher.

Step 1 — Get Into the Starting Position

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Begin with a loaded barbell on the ground straight above your toes. Stand together with your toes barely wider than shoulder-width. With a slight bend in your knees, push your hips again and bend on the waist till your higher physique is parallel to the bottom.

Arch your decrease again and seize the bar with an overhand grip. Your grip width shall be decided by your arm size. The precedence is sustaining a parallel torso, so grabbing the bar wider than shoulder-width needs to be crucial.

Form Tip: You ought to really feel tightness, not discomfort, in your hamstrings from holding the proper higher physique place. If you’re feeling ache, totally warm-up your hips, hamstrings, glutes, and decrease again to attain the place extra comfortably.

Step 2 — Perform an Explosive Pull

Man in gym performing barbell rowCredit: Breaking Muscle / Youtube

Flex your abs and squeeze the bar to create pressure and stability. Pinch your shoulder blades collectively and shortly drive your elbows up whereas pulling the bar to your decrease chest. Your torso mustn’t raise from the parallel place.

The bar ought to bodily contact your decrease chest or higher stomach earlier than you permit it to return shortly to the bottom. Don’t attempt to intentionally gradual the barbell on the descent. Let the bar come to a whole relaxation on the bottom earlier than starting the subsequent rep.

Form Tip: If your torso strikes considerably, scale back the load on the bar and concentrate on sustaining a decent posture. Keeping a strict higher physique place whereas lifting explosively is extra necessary than swinging heavy weights.

Pendlay Row Mistakes to Avoid

The Pendlay row is particularly used to keep away from method points extra widespread with conventional barbell rows. Make certain you’re performing it accurately by avoiding these issues.

Moving Your Upper Body

One of essentially the most noticeable variations with a Pendlay row is the considerably bent-over place, protecting the higher physique parallel to the bottom all through the train. This permits most stress to be positioned on the higher again and lat muscle tissues, with out utilizing the decrease again, glutes, and hamstrings to maneuver the load.

Muscular man performing barbell row exerciseCredit: Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock

If your torso shifts to get the load shifting, you’re dissipating stress from the goal muscle tissues and lowering the energy and measurement advantage of the train.

Avoid It: Remember that the physique place is intentionally bent ahead in an effort to get optimum outcomes. Be aware of sustaining a strict parallel place. Never commerce method for extra weight on the bar.

Bouncing Off the Floor

Each rep of a Pendlay row needs to be carried out with the bar ranging from a rested place on the ground. This requires your physique to provide most power for every particular person rep, as a substitute of counting on the stretch-shortening cycle (a muscular phenomenon which makes use of a stretched place to extend energy). (1) This method is usually known as “dead-stop training.”

Man in gym performing barbell exerciseCredit: Qilin’s prance Filmmaker / Shutterstock

Eliminating this full relaxation on the backside permits momentum to construct, which decreases the physique’s power manufacturing and reduces the train’s effectiveness.

Avoid it: Allow the bar to come back to a whole cease on the bottom after every rep. Releasing the bar and resetting your grip between every rep may assist to make sure a full cease. Approach any given set as a sequence of particular person reps, not one group of a number of reps. For instance, as a substitute of “a set of five reps,” consider performing “five single reps” with one second between every.

Benefits of the Pendlay Row

The Pendlay row was initially used to assist good old style energy features. Like all barbell rows, it additionally delivers loads of muscular development as effectively. Here are all the explanations to coach with this massive, primary raise.

Muscular athletes holding barbellCredit: Yupa Watchanakit / Shutterstock

Back Strength

A powerful again is crucial for maximal energy manufacturing throughout urgent workouts and for lowering the chance of shoulder accidents. (2) The Pendlay row straight trains all of the muscle tissues of the again to straight improve pulling energy, in addition to to carryover to bench and overhead urgent.

Explosive Power

Because the Pendlay row is carried out from a dead-stop, an explosive raise is required to maneuver the load. This helps to extend muscle recruitment and has been proven to extend total energy and energy features. (3)

Back Size

Directly coaching the lats and higher again with heavy weights is a perfect option to set off muscle development. The Pendlay row applies muscular stress to those physique components, together with the biceps and forearms, making it a superb cornerstone for any back-building exercise.

Muscles Worked by Pendlay Row

The Pendlay row is a compound (multi-joint) train coordinating a lot of muscle tissues to finish the raise. This intense train hits almost each muscle on the again half of the physique, after which some.

black and white phot of bodybuilder preparing to lift a barbell from the groundCredit: SOK Studio / Shutterstock

Upper Back

The higher again — consisting of the trapezius, rear deltoids (shoulders), rhomboids, and different smaller muscle tissues — works primarily to regulate the shoulder blades (scapulae). The Pendlay row prompts the higher again on every repetition, serving to to raise the bar from the bottom and pull the bar into the highest place.


The latissimus dorsi (lats) are the most important muscle tissues on the again, working close to your ribs and from beneath your arms to your decrease again. They work to carry your arm in in the direction of your physique from an prolonged place, making them the first mover throughout any rowing train.

Spinal Erectors

The spinal erectors are a pair of muscular columns working the size of your backbone. They work to regulate your torso place on the waist (bending forwards or sideways, and rotating). During the Pendlay row, the spinal erectors work to keep up a static higher physique place.


The biceps brachii (biceps) management flexion on the elbow, bending your arm right into a closed place. While they don’t bear an entire contraction throughout a Pendlay row (a wider grip on the bar prevents a full biceps contraction), the biceps assist to drag the load in the direction of your physique and full the raise within the prime place.


The forearms are technically composed of two separate muscle tissues — the flexors on the underside aspect of the forearm and the extensors on the highest aspect. Maintaining a safe grip on the barbell throughout Pendlay rows closely prompts the flexors, whereas controlling the bar in the course of the upwards raise recruits the extensors.

Who Should Do the Pendlay Row

Like many compound workouts, lifters with a wide range of objectives can profit from incorporating the Pendlay row into their exercises.

Strength and Power Athletes

Lifters centered on shifting severe weights in competitors (or, actually, for recreation too) can profit from the energy and energy constructed from Pendlay rows. Coach Pendlay initially used the train to help the powerlifts and ultimately used it as a staple for his Olympic weightlifting champions.

Training for Muscle

Heavy rowing workouts have persistently constructed massive, muscular backs. The Pendlay row develops thicker, wider lats and an higher again to match.

How to Program the Pendlay Row

To effectively practice for measurement and energy with out extreme fatigue within the assist muscle tissues of the decrease again, which might compromise method, the Pendlay row is greatest skilled with comparatively decrease reps. Here are some efficient pointers

Moderate Weight, Low Repetition

Focusing on the Pendlay row’s explosive efficiency can typically imply making use of extra power to much less weight. Training for two to 6 units of two to 4 reps can prioritize most power manufacturing, which results in extra energy improvement.

Heavy Weight, Low Repetition

Three to 5 units of three to 5 reps is a time-tested option to transfer heavy weights on massive compound lifts, delivering measurement and energy features. When you start lifting heavier weights whereas protecting strict type, you open a really massive door to very massive outcomes. Remember that you could be not have the ability to raise as a lot with the Pendlay row as you may with a standard bent-over row.

Pendlay Row Variations

The Pendlay row delivers loads of advantages, however not all lifters could also be able to dive into this massive raise. Here are one of the best methods to work as much as Pendlay rows.

Chest-Supported Row

The chest-supported row permits the again to be skilled with out requiring any decrease physique stabilization. This makes it very best for lifters working round a decrease again challenge or lifters who might have mobility restrictions stopping them from reaching the parallel torso place wanted for Pendlay rows.

Another advantage of many chest-supported row machines is a wide range of gripping handles, which may barely alter recruitment by emphasizing totally different muscle tissues of the again.

Neutral-Grip Two Dumbbell Row

While the single-arm dumbbell row is widespread, performing the motion with two dumbbells without delay is a superb “gateway” to barbell rowing. By requiring either side of the physique to hold their share of the load (no weightlifting pun meant), energy discrepancies in muscle tissues on both aspect will be extra simply seen and addressed.

Using a neutral-grip additionally reduces pressure on the shoulder joint and permits elevated muscular stress on the biceps and higher again.

Reverse-Grip Barbell Row

The reverse-grip barbell row entails a supinated (palms up) grip which considerably will increase biceps activation and modifications the train’s vary of movement, which impacts the again muscle tissues.

The trapezius is extra considerably activated on account of a extra upright torso angle and the lats are saved beneath fixed pressure with a major stretch within the backside place.

Pendlay Row Alternatives

There are a handful of workouts which may construct measurement, energy, and energy just like the Pendlay row. Here are among the prime selections.

Barbell Row

While the Pendlay row entails a strict, parallel torso place and pulling every repetition from the bottom, “breaking” these guidelines turns the barbell row into a distinct back-building beast.

The similar muscle teams are activated to various levels. A barely angled torso place reduces the hip and hamstring mobility requirement or Pendlay rows, whereas the muscle tissues are saved beneath fixed pressure with out resting the barbell. This makes the train extra appropriate for average to increased repetitions with out fatiguing the supportive muscle tissues.

Kroc Row

If a Pendlay row is taken into account a “strict barbell row,” a Kroc row might be thought-about a “controlled chaos dumbbell row.” It’s usually carried out utilizing heavy weights for high-rep units and is usually mistaken for traditional single-arm rows being performed with poor type.

Kroc rows will be very efficient for constructing higher again energy and measurement regardless that they contain leg drive and physique English slightly than super-strict higher physique pulling.

Power Clean

The energy clear is arguably some of the helpful workouts that an athlete can carry out within the fitness center. (4) It’s a traditional staple in energy and conditioning packages for contact sports activities and is a variation of the clear and jerk from aggressive Olympic weightlifting.

The energy clear builds explosive total-body energy whereas packing measurement onto the higher again and traps, particularly. Note: When performing energy cleans (or any Olympic raise variation), the bar ought to solely be dropped from the highest place when you’re utilizing bumper plates and a selected lifting platform.


My grip fatigues earlier than the top of my set. Should I take advantage of lifting straps?

With many rowing workouts, and again workouts generally, muscular fatigue setting into the smaller muscle tissues of your grip and forearms earlier than the bigger again muscle tissues is a typical challenge. While grip energy typically improves comparatively shortly, it shouldn’t have an effect on the first aim of any train.

Supporting your grip with lifting straps in the course of the heaviest and most difficult units can enhance efficiency total. Over-relying on lifting straps, nonetheless, reminiscent of carrying them when lifting less-challenging weights, can stop the event of grip energy.

Why does my decrease again damage in the course of the train?

Keeping your torso in a parallel place is crucial within the Pendlay row. However, some lifters might discover that this place aggravates decrease again ache or they might be unable to attain ample depth within the first place.

The resolution is to handle flexibility and mobility within the decrease again, hamstrings, glutes, and hips. Depending in your particular wants, it might be so simple as performing mild weight single-leg deadlifts at first of every exercise or as thorough as persistently training an entire hip mobility sequence.

Pendlay Rows for Power

The Pendlay row has supported energy and energy improvement for almost three a long time and has been utilized by prime lifters all over the world. With a easy barbell, and quite a lot of weight plates, you may add it to your individual exercises and construct world-class energy and measurement.


  1. Seiberl, Wolfgang et al. “Editorial: The Stretch-Shortening Cycle of Active Muscle and Muscle-Tendon Complex: What, Why and How It Increases Muscle Performance?.” Frontiers in physiology vol. 12 693141. 20 May. 2021, doi:10.3389/fphys.2021.693141
  2. Escalante, Guillermo DSc, MBA, ATC, CSCS, CISSN1; Fine, Daniel SPT, CSCS2; Ashworth, Kyle SPT, CSCS2; Kolber, Morey J. PT, PhD, CSCS2 Progressive Exercise Strategies to Mitigate Shoulder Injuries Among Weight-Training Participants, Strength and Conditioning Journal: February 2021 – Volume 43 – Issue 1 – p 72-85 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000547
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