Pendlay Row: Build a Strong Back with Ease

It is known as the Pendlay row and is among the most efficient back exercises. It is named after USA trainer Glenn Pendlay; this barbell row workout will enhance your posture and strengthen your back.

The Pendlay row is a specialized back exercise that will take your upper body fitness to the upper levels.

The Pendlay Row: Working Muscles

Primary Muscle Group

The Pendlay row is primarily a workout for muscles in your upper and mid-back, including your rhomboids, lats, and hips.

Beginning in the mid and lower back and mid-back muscle, the latissimus doers is the largest muscle in the back. The lats play an important role in the majority of “pulling” exercises, such as the pulldowns of your lats or pull-ups and other rowing workouts.

The rhomboids in your back are located in the upper back of yours. When you contract your rhomboids near the top of each rep on the Pendlay row, they are accountable for connecting your shoulder blades.

Secondary Muscle Group

Pendlay row can be described as a compound exercise that additionally strengthens the muscles of your body like the forearms, biceps glutes, abdominals and traps, legs, and the deltoids. When you perform the motion, your biceps and forearms contract to help bring the weight upwards. Numerous other muscles are also used to stabilize your upper body.

Your glutes and legs help stabilize your lower body while bending over. When it is true that the Pendlay row can be described as a back workout, it also engages muscles all over the body.

The Pendlay Row: Benefits

The Pendlay Row Benefits

#1 Bigger And Stronger Back

The Pendlay row places tremendous tension on the muscles in your back. This causes muscles’ individual cells to react to the stress by expanding in size. This process is known as hypertrophy. This can help you to build a larger and more robust back. A strong and sturdy back is attractive; it’s also crucial to improve your athletic performance and other compound exercises and everyday tasks.

#2 Full Body Activation

Other back exercises, like the dumbbell row and the lat pulldown, will require a cable or bench machine that can help stabilize the motion. For the Pendlay row, the reps begin in an upright position.

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Thus, you need to count on yourself to maintain your stability. Therefore, if you’re new to weightlifting, ensure that you increase your strength in the lower back area and core before lifting weights heavy using your Pendlay row. It is a rigorous exercise that tests your body’s stability in all directions.

#3 Improved Posture

The long hours you spend in work chairs or driving for long periods could result in you not using your back muscles, including your lats. Muscles. This can cause slouching, tension, and pain in your back and shoulders. The Pendlay row can engage these muscles that aren’t utilized and help reduce back pain and discomfort. When you exercise regularly, the back muscles will develop to help support your upper body and create an upright frame to ensure proper posture.

The Pendlay Row: Instructions


You’ll require an exercise bar and some weights to perform this exercise.


  • Make an exercise bar on the ground using moderate to light weight.
  • Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Move forward until the barbell is in the middle part of your feet.
  • Hold your waist in place while bending your knees to align with the floor.
  • Hold the bar using an overhand grip using your hands wider than the shoulder distance.


  1. Keeping your elbows slightly in a tuck, brace your core, and then contract your lats, pushing your elbows upwards and backward and bringing the barbell to the lower part of your chest.
  2. Press your lats towards the top, hold for a second, then slowly lower the barbell to the floor in its starting position.
  3. Keep your core tight in your back and core, and repeat!


It is recommended to finish 3-4-6 sets consisting of eight to 12 repetitions of The Pendlay row. When you become more familiar with the technique, you are free to switch the rep and set ranges to push yourself.

The Pendlay Row: Mistakes

The Pendlay Row Mistakes

#1 Standing Too High

I often observe lifters slowing down to become more upright after they do multiple reps in Pendlay row. This is typical because they are lifting too much weight.

It is a great exercise for the back. Pendlay row is a great back exercise since it is based on the strictness of technique. As opposed to using your momentum to pull upwards, select a suitable weight that is manageable and keep your back straight and close to the ground. This can reduce the risk of injury and maximize the gains you can make!

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#2 Relieving Your Arms

Many lifters tend to bend their wrists while using their arms to raise the weight. This is most commonly seen when lifting excessive weight. In the end, they’ll use their arms to increase the speed to “bounce” towards the end of every repetition.

It’s not just unsafe for your back and wrists and wrists, but it also doesn’t attain the goal of straining the back muscles. Instead, pick the lighter weight and concentrate on the correct form.

#3 Rounding The Back

Another common Pendlay row error is rounding back the front. This is usually because of a flawed setting up position. But, it could be caused by a relaxed back during repetitions.

The act of rounding your back can put your body in an awkward position and result in injuries. Through this Pendlay row, concentrate on keeping your chest elevated and your back in an upright, neutral posture.

This increases the safety and efficiency and efficiency Pendlay row.

The Pendlay Row: Variations

#1 1-Arm Pendlay Row

It is also possible to perform the Pendlay row unidirectionally.

Install a dumbbell or kettlebell (as shown here) onto the ground. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a step forward so that your weight is on your right foot. Begin by tying your waist. Lower your knees until your back is nearly in line with the floor.

Take the weight, hold it in your core, and then contract your right lat as you drive your elbow upwards and backward by bringing the weight toward the chest’s bottom.

Make sure you squeeze your lat to the top, stop for a few seconds, then slowly lower the weight to the floor in the initial position. Stay tight in your core as you move back, and repeat the exercise using the left hand!

#2 Pendley Row Grip Variations

The classic Pendlay row requires an extended overhand grip. But, altering your grip can significantly affect hitting different muscles. For instance, you could consider an underhand grip to get more bicep muscle activation or move your hands closer to target your back mid-back.

Try different grip styles to find the most effective one for you!

The Pendlay Row: Alternatives

If you loved your Pendlay row, make sure to check out these exercises that will help you enhance your upper body fitness:

#1 Overhand Barbell Row

Place a barbell on the ground with a light to medium weight. Take a stand position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Move forward until the barbell is in the middle part of your foot. Hold the bar using an overhand grip using your hands to the outside of your knees.

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Keep your abs and your back in place, and then lift the barbell up until you’re in a standing position, with the back in a straight position.

Keep your back and abs firm, and pivot your hips forward so that your lower back stays in line with the floor. Keep your arms straight and keep your eyes on a few feet in front of you. Keep your elbows in a tucked position and your elbows bent; push them up and down to bring the barbell towards the belly button.

Make sure you squeeze your lats to the top, hold for a few seconds, and slowly return to the beginning position. Stay tight in your core as you go back. Repeat!

#2 Straight Arm Pullover

Lay on your back while keeping your knees bent and feet on the floor. Grab a dumbbell with an overhand grip. Then lift your arms straight over your chest.

Slowly lower your arms until the dumbbells reach the floor. Next, press your lats together until they return to their starting position. Repeat!

#3 Reverse Snow Angel

Lay on your stomach and place your hands on top of your head, and your palms facing downwards. Take your shoulders upwards to shift your arms towards the other side, with your palms facing upwards.

You should try to raise the arms as much as possible to ensure maximum back engagement on the transfer. After that, raise your shoulders back up and return your arms to the original position using the same hand rotation position. It is important to squeeze your lats all the duration of the exercise. Repeat!


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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