Horizontal Barbell Row - Correct Technique and Common Mistakes

The horizontal row is one of the best barbell exercises for the back. This exercise also allows you to work the abdomen and the arms with the correct technique.

However, a beginner often makes several common mistakes. This can pose a risk of sports injuries in the lower back area.

This article describes the horizontal barbell row technique step by step and how to avoid these mistakes.

Barbell Horizontal Row – What is it?

The horizontal barbell row or incline row is one of the five basic multi-joint exercises. These are considered the most effective exercises to develop muscles in the back and the whole body.

This exercise is essential for developing a broad back, developing core muscles, and improving posture.

The movement of this exercise is similar to other machine rowing exercises ( low pulley rowrowing machine ). This variant is ideal for including in CrossFit routines to increase upper body strength and volume.

Correct technique of horizontal barbell row step by step

The following describes the horizontal barbell row technique step by step:

  1. Starting position

Stand in front of the bar, resting on the floor. Keep your spine straight parallel to the ground. One of the common errors in the initial position of the technique is to bend the lower back in an exaggerated position.

  1. Grip

Take the bar with your hands. The palms should face down in pronation. The width of the grip should be medium: narrower than when doing a chest press but wider than when doing a barbell deadlift. Tighten the muscles of the abdomen and arms and not twist the wrists.

  1. Hip and knee position

The knees should remain slightly bent. The hips should not be lower or higher than the torso line but parallel to the ground.

  1. Head position

Incorrect horizontal barbell press technique; your gaze should always be directed toward the ground. Never looking towards the bar or forward. Avoid the temptation to look into mirrors.

  1. Mechanics of movement

Using your back muscles, bring the bar down to your lower chest without deflecting your torso. The movement should bring your scapulae together. The correct technique is to make a movement at a controlled speed with the help of the breath and finish the action with the bar on the ground.

Most common mistakes when doing incline rowing

The most common mistakes when doing horizontal barbell rowing are:

Elbow position. One of the most common mistakes when doing incline rowing is the position of the elbows. As seen in the image, the elbows should not point downwards or divert the loads towards the cervical area at the top of the movement.

Inclination. The angle of the back with the ground must not exceed 15 °. Performing this exercise with an incline angle of 30-45 ° ruins the technique of the movement; in fact, it can be a reason for lower back injuries.

Bent over rowing variations

Many machines mimic the movement of the horizontal barbell row. Unfortunately, many of them do not allow the stabilizing muscles of the trunk and the muscles of the legs to work.

The horizontal one-hand dumbbell row is a variation of the inclined row; however, it is not recommended for beginners. If you are still not confident enough in the technique, it can be risky for the cervical area and the spine.

Before doing the incline barbell row, do the rowing machine for 10 minutes: the technique of this movement is analogous to that of the inclined row. This will help you approximate the correct feeling of tension in your back muscles while working your midsection.


The horizontal barbell row is one of the five basic multi-joint exercises and is considered one of the best for developing back muscles. Knowing the exercise technique is essential to avoid low back injuries. One of the common mistakes when doing incline rowing is exaggerating your spine and looking straight ahead.

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