If you want some effective alternatives to the T-bar row, which you can do at home with dumbbells, a barbell or even your bodyweight, this page will show you what to do.
T-Bar Row: Muscles Worked
The T-bar row works a number of different muscles at the same time, the main ones being:
- Latissimus dorsi
- Posterior deltoids
- Elbow flexors (biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis)
T-Bar Row: How It’s Done
There are several variations of the T-bar row, which include:
- Chest-Supported T-Bar Row
- Neutral Grip T-Bar Row
- Wide Grip T-Bar Row
While you’re still targeting the same muscles, adjusting your hand position will shift the emphasis from one set of muscles to the other.
With the chest-supported T-bar row, the weight of your body is supported on the machine.
As a result, the muscles surrounding your spine don’t have to support the weight of your upper body, meaning that lower back fatigue is less of an issue.
When the T-bar row is done with a neutral grip, meaning that your palms face each other, and the elbows stay closer to the torso, latissimus dorsi (AKA the lats) is more heavily involved.
Using a wider overhand grip and flaring the elbows out to the side, on the other hand, is more of a challenge for your upper back and posterior deltoids.
5 Alternatives to the T-Bar Row
Bent-Over Barbell Row
First up is the bent-over barbell row. This is an ideal substitute for the T-bar row if you want to train at home, and all you have is a barbell and some plates.
Like the T-bar row, the bent-over barbell row targets mainly your back and biceps.
However, you can shift the emphasis from one muscle group to another depending on how you do the exercise.
A more lat-focused row involves keeping the barbell closer to your legs, rowing towards your belly button, tucking your elbows in, and using a relatively narrow grip. This type of row is often done with an underhand, or reverse grip.
On the other hand, if you want to focus more on the muscles in the upper back, use a wider grip, bring the elbows out to the side rather than tucking them in, and row the bar closer to the upper region of the stomach, nearer the chest.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
If you find that the bent-over barbell row causes fatigue in your lower back, try the single-arm dumbbell row.
It’s one of the most effective substitutes for the T-bar row, particularly the chest-supported T-bar row, because your weight is supported on the bench.
As a result, you won’t end up having to terminate a set because of fatigue in the spinal erectors, which can sometimes happen with the bent-over barbell row.
Because you’re hitting one side of the body at a time, the single-arm dumbbell row can also help to eliminate any strength imbalance that might exist between your left and right side.
Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row
If you’ve got an incline bench, you can also do chest-supported dumbbell rows using both arms at the same time.
All your weight is supported by the bench, so lower back fatigue isn’t an issue.
Next up is the inverted row, which also serves as a lower-back friendly substitute for the T-bar row.
To make the exercise harder, position yourself so that you’re horizontal, with the anchor point directly above you. As you move closer to a more upright position, you’re making the exercise easier.
You can also add weight by doing the inverted row while wearing a weighted vest.
The landmine row is very similar to the T-bar row, in the sense that one end of the bar is anchored in place, while you row the other end of the bar towards your torso.
While you can use a V-handle (normally found on a seated cable row machine) to do landmine rows, you can also pick up a landmine row handle attachment.
The landmine row handle attachment allows you to use different grips and hand positions, just like you would with a regular T-bar row.