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    T-Bar vs Bent Over Rows

    Does the hinged "fulcrum" of a T-Bar row result in any significant difference of stimulus than a normal Pendlay row? The only immediate thing that comes to mind is that a barbell row is going to stress the whole posterior chain more since you have to maintain a static hold to anchor the weight. Besides that, the T-Bar row might hit the lats a little more directly, moving in an arc rather than vertically upwards via rhomboid and lower trap contraction.

    Personally I'm more inclined to barbell rows as they're a "freer" exercise, but am also curious to know what minute differences there are. Also looking to choose and lock in the accessories for Candito 6 Week which I am about to start.
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    Pendlays are overrated from a muscle building standpoint. T-bars or more upright bb rows will give you much better eccentric control and muscle growth potential.

    Plus, Tbar rows are a lot of fun, so there is that.
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    Regarding the major back muscles:

    Rhomboids and lower traps are going to contract if you protract and retract your shoulder blades throughout the movement. If you keep your shoulder blades fixed with either variation they will contract isometrically. The line of pull with them will be different as the torso angle is more upright with T-bar rows. This could be an advantage for T-bar rows if you are including a pull-up variant as the line of pull is more distinct.

    The spinal erectors will contract isometrically throughout the movement if you keep your torso angle fixed. Tension will be placed on them for a longer period with T-bar rows if you are not touching the ground at the bottom like you would with Pendlay rows, but the more upright angle of the back puts them in a more mechanically favorable position and thus I don't think one version will be better than the other. Also most people are going to be doing other exercises that work the spinal erectors better. That said, if the spinal erectors limit your ability to do the Pendlay rows and control the descent this would be a reason not to do them.

    The lats function to perform arm extension at the shoulder joint, arm adduction, and arm internal rotation. Thus, regardless of the version you choose I would use a relatively close grip to maximize internal rotation, keep your arms close to your side to maximize arm adduction, and then it really comes down to which version allows you to better extend your arms at your shoulder. Basically, whichever one lets you get your elbows further behind your body at the top of the movement will have the advantage here.


    Thus, my gut instinct is that it will not matter too much which you do in the grand scheme of things, and if you prefer one for whatever reason that is fine, but I'd personally go with the T-bar rows with a narrow handle.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Pendlays are overrated from a muscle building standpoint. T-bars or more upright bb rows will give you much better eccentric control and muscle growth potential.

    Plus, Tbar rows are a lot of fun, so there is that.
    More eccentric control with a greater angle you say? That’s something I haven’t noticed, but I do find it more natural to draw my shoulder blades down and back the more upright I am, with the downside being that I feel little in my upper back and nearly all of the stimulation is lat-focused. Kind of like Yates rows but pronated.

    But the drawback (for me) to a more horizontal back angle is that my torso wants to swing upward into that 45 degree angle on the way up when things get even a little heavy. So concentric control seems to be the issue.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    More eccentric control with a greater angle you say? That’s something I haven’t noticed, but I do find it more natural to draw my shoulder blades down and back the more upright I am, with the downside being that I feel little in my upper back and nearly all of the stimulation is lat-focused. Kind of like Yates rows but pronated.

    But the drawback (for me) to a more horizontal back angle is that my torso wants to swing upward into that 45 degree angle on the way up when things get even a little heavy. So concentric control seems to be the issue.
    As an exercise to help work on this and see what the issue is, get yourself into your starting row position, keep your arms straight, and just focus on protracting and retracting the shoulder blades. This will help you work on the mind-muscle connection and if you find you have to use a lot less weight than with typical rows the strength discrepancy will explain why you are not using those muscles well when rowing.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    More eccentric control with a greater angle you say? That’s something I haven’t noticed, but I do find it more natural to draw my shoulder blades down and back the more upright I am, with the downside being that I feel little in my upper back and nearly all of the stimulation is lat-focused. Kind of like Yates rows but pronated.

    But the drawback (for me) to a more horizontal back angle is that my torso wants to swing upward into that 45 degree angle on the way up when things get even a little heavy. So concentric control seems to be the issue.
    What Heisman said ^

    That said, the only free weight rows I do anymore are dumbbell rows as a second pull on some upper days. For me, just too much musculature wants to get in on the lift, so I do seated cable rows or chest supported row machines, as well as the aforementioned dumbbell rows instead.
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    You could always rotate lifts during the week depending on fatigue from squat and DL on that program. When you're feeling fresher, do the harder lift, and when not then do a lighter lift such as cable or DB rows.

    Remember the ultimate goal is adaption. It's ok to flex the plan a bit if you need more recovery for adaptation.

    I did barbell floor rows every cycle when I ran that prog., but the post. chain demands were higher. Built a solid base in back tho
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    As an exercise to help work on this and see what the issue is, get yourself into your starting row position, keep your arms straight, and just focus on protracting and retracting the shoulder blades. This will help you work on the mind-muscle connection and if you find you have to use a lot less weight than with typical rows the strength discrepancy will explain why you are not using those muscles well when rowing.
    Actually, this is exactly my problem. I was evaluated by a PT for a shoulder impingement and she found that my mid/low traps were disproportionately weak and that my not drawing my shoulder blades in adequately were related... my upper traps are apparently overactive. Good advice, thanks. I’m planning to knock some weight off the bar tonight.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Actually, this is exactly my problem. I was evaluated by a PT for a shoulder impingement and she found that my mid/low traps were disproportionately weak and that my not drawing my shoulder blades in adequately were related... my upper traps are apparently overactive. Good advice, thanks. I’m planning to knock some weight off the bar tonight.
    Overreactive upper traps are a common thing. Some lower trap work is great, like dislocates or Y raises. Like the rear delts, they are a small muscle and in movements that they are worked in, they usually take a backseat to larger, stronger muscles. Something that also helped me was daily light band work for the upper back, and reverse planks when I didn’t have my bands.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Overreactive upper traps are a common thing. Some lower trap work is great, like dislocates or Y raises. Like the rear delts, they are a small muscle and in movements that they are worked in, they usually take a backseat to larger, stronger muscles. Something that also helped me was daily light band work for the upper back, and reverse planks when I didn’t have my bands.
    What do you think about Kelso shrugs at an incline with dumbbells? Started doing these a few weeks ago as a light finisher and I find that they help with that mind-muscle connection necessary for proper retraction, sort of forcing the two halves of my upper back to meet in the middle, not unlike a BP setup.I feel little to no activation in my upper traps and come out with my mid traps on fire.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    What do you think about Kelso shrugs at an incline with dumbbells? Started doing these a few weeks ago as a light finisher and I find that they help with that mind-muscle connection necessary for proper retraction, sort of forcing the two halves of my upper back to meet in the middle, not unlike a BP setup.I feel little to no activation in my upper traps and come out with my mid traps on fire.
    Kelso shrugs are awesome at isolating the mid traps and rhomboids. I’ve also done them on a seated cable machine with a wide grip, which involves more upper trap.
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    Xpiro, also consider doing scapular retractions with a pulldown set up where you lean back some during the set (keep your torso angle fixed throughout). That will isolate your lower traps more as opposed to the Kelso shrugs that will hit the rhomboids hard
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Pendlays are overrated from a muscle building standpoint. T-bars or more upright bb rows will give you much better eccentric control and muscle growth potential.

    Plus, Tbar rows are a lot of fun, so there is that.
    I agree, but also no ****.
    An exercise with no eccentric doesn't give you an eccentric xD
    Pendlays are great technical deadlift assistance IME.

    For hype work I'm a big fan of inverted rows now, particularly neutral grip.
    And lever rows, basically a t bar but single arm.
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    Any hexbar rows fans?
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    any hexbar rows fans?
    Those are fun too.

    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    I agree, but also no ****.
    An exercise with no eccentric doesn't give you an eccentric xD
    Pendlays are great technical deadlift assistance IME.

    For hype work I'm a big fan of inverted rows now, particularly neutral grip.
    And lever rows, basically a t bar but single arm.
    To each their own, I suppose. I never found any carryover to my deadlift from rows from the floor, but more upright rows definitely did. Maybe because I was dangling almost 300 lbs from my torso in a really compromised bent over position but who knows 8-)
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    Xpiro, also consider doing scapular retractions with a pulldown set up where you lean back some during the set (keep your torso angle fixed throughout). That will isolate your lower traps more as opposed to the Kelso shrugs that will hit the rhomboids hard
    Hmm any free weight alternative you know of?
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    Regarding the major back muscles:

    Rhomboids and lower traps are going to contract if you protract and retract your shoulder blades throughout the movement. If you keep your shoulder blades fixed with either variation they will contract isometrically. The line of pull with them will be different as the torso angle is more upright with T-bar rows. This could be an advantage for T-bar rows if you are including a pull-up variant as the line of pull is more distinct.

    The spinal erectors will contract isometrically throughout the movement if you keep your torso angle fixed. Tension will be placed on them for a longer period with T-bar rows if you are not touching the ground at the bottom like you would with Pendlay rows, but the more upright angle of the back puts them in a more mechanically favorable position and thus I don't think one version will be better than the other. Also most people are going to be doing other exercises that work the spinal erectors better. That said, if the spinal erectors limit your ability to do the Pendlay rows and control the descent this would be a reason not to do them.

    The lats function to perform arm extension at the shoulder joint, arm adduction, and arm internal rotation. Thus, regardless of the version you choose I would use a relatively close grip to maximize internal rotation, keep your arms close to your side to maximize arm adduction, and then it really comes down to which version allows you to better extend your arms at your shoulder. Basically, whichever one lets you get your elbows further behind your body at the top of the movement will have the advantage here.


    Thus, my gut instinct is that it will not matter too much which you do in the grand scheme of things, and if you prefer one for whatever reason that is fine, but I'd personally go with the T-bar rows with a narrow handle.
    Thanks for the detailed commentary on the muscle mechanics. To me, the back functions less intuitively than an other major muscle group. I recall reading that you're a doctor, but do you work as a chiropractor, specifically?

    And will keeping the elbows close to the torso throughout the pull target the lats more intensely via internal rotation than would be the case in adduction in a vertical pull (which is admittedly a separate exercise)? I.e. is internal rotation more demanding and stressing to the muscle than adduction?

    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    You could always rotate lifts during the week depending on fatigue from squat and DL on that program. When you're feeling fresher, do the harder lift, and when not then do a lighter lift such as cable or DB rows.

    Remember the ultimate goal is adaption. It's ok to flex the plan a bit if you need more recovery for adaptation.

    I did barbell floor rows every cycle when I ran that prog., but the post. chain demands were higher. Built a solid base in back tho
    Yeah, one thought with Pendlays is that they're going to stress the spinal erectors, glutes and hamstrings similarly to the deadlift, which is of course the primary back lift in this program. Incidentally, the PDF for the program that I downloaded doesn't have T-Bar Rows as a listed accessory, so I guess I'll just do barbell rows. While I could sub in whatever I want, I have a feeling Candito had a reason for this.

    Also, even if a strict Pendlay doesn't have an eccentric "controlled descent," why is this? You can simply do one anyway.
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    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Thanks for the detailed commentary on the muscle mechanics. To me, the back functions less intuitively than an other major muscle group. I recall reading that you're a doctor, but do you work as a chiropractor, specifically?

    And will keeping the elbows close to the torso throughout the pull target the lats more intensely via internal rotation than would be the case in adduction in a vertical pull (which is admittedly a separate exercise)? I.e. is internal rotation more demanding and stressing to the muscle than adduction?



    Yeah, one thought with Pendlays is that they're going to stress the spinal erectors, glutes and hamstrings similarly to the deadlift, which is of course the primary back lift in this program. Incidentally, the PDF for the program that I downloaded doesn't have T-Bar Rows as a listed accessory, so I guess I'll just do barbell rows. While I could sub in whatever I want, I have a feeling Candito had a reason for this.

    Also, even if a strict Pendlay doesn't have an eccentric "controlled descent," why is this? You can simply do one anyway.
    The eccentric just isn’t the point of a Pendlay, and if you tried to incorporate a 3-5 second lowering, it would probably open your self up to injury. Just too much going on with keeping the back angle, not rounding the lumbar, etc.
    But there is no reason to stick to one kind of row. Hell, I have like 5 variations programmed right now.

    As far as muscle activation of the back, understand that elbows tucked and close to the body=more lats, and elbows back and flared with arched upper back=more upper back. But all the back muscles will be worked, it is just to what degree. That is why it’s best to include both types of work, and something rear delt specific.

    Examples:
    -V grip seated cable or narrow handle tbar row for lats
    -Wide grip lat pull down to neck for the upper back
    -cable rear delt row for rear delts

    Or

    -Wide grip seal row for upper back
    -neutral grip lat pulldown for lats
    -bent over lateral raises for rear delts

    With all that said, I’d stick to whatever your doing if it is programmed that way. Just food for thought.
    Last edited by BeginnerGainz; 04-19-2021 at 07:52 AM.
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    Do both...
    Either concurrently.
    Rotated in/out when stall/bored.
    Or in different blocks.

    The good thing about pendlays that all the haters miss, is they are virtually impossible to get sore from as they are essentially concentric only. You can do huge volumes of them, build great force production and not be walking around in bits for days. I'm taking a proper pendlay row, not the bastsrdised deadstop bro version or the rubish rows.

    Personally. I'm doing inverted rows on and what everyone calls *tbar rows* at home.

    Being a Vgrip attachment, no chest support and in a landmine.

    In the gym I'm Riding the hammer strengths iso high row. Nothing comes close to this kit. And you're wrong if you disagree.. xD or just used a crap Clone.
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    Being a Vgrip attachment, no chest support and in a landmine.
    That is how I’ve always done them as well.

    The high row is the only thing about planet fitness I miss, the closest I’ve come to replicating it is doing chin grip lat pulldowns with a lot of lean back at the hips.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    That is how I’ve always done them as well.

    The high row is the only thing about planet fitness I miss, the closest I’ve come to replicating it is doing chin grip lat pulldowns with a lot of lean back at the hips.
    Yeah! Its kinda close.. If you do a gironda style lat pull like you mention.

    But without the arms moving (converging stretch/diverging contraction) its just not quite right.

    Rope/strap kinda improves it but I frequently can't get a stretch with a rope on just kit.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Hmm any free weight alternative you know of?
    Obvious answer would be to hang from a pull up bar, lean back slightly, and do scapular retraction/protraction. If you're not strong enough to do these with body weight then use a band hanging from the bar to support you. Or if you have a rack hang on the barbell with your feet on a chair in front of you to take some of the weight off.

    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Thanks for the detailed commentary on the muscle mechanics. To me, the back functions less intuitively than an other major muscle group. I recall reading that you're a doctor, but do you work as a chiropractor, specifically?
    I'm a pediatrician, I have an MD.

    Watch the following videos to get a better idea of relevant back anatomy (remember that muscles contract by shortening, if you know the origin and insertion points of muscle fibers then you can figure out what the muscles do by picturing them shortening):

    Lats:


    Traps:


    Rhomboids (the rhomboid minor is very similar in function to the rhomboid major):


    Teres major:


    Erector spinae:


    Of those the rhomboids, teres major, and erector spinae are pretty straightforward as they are all mostly linear. The traps are much more complex as the fibers go in all different directions from the shoulder blades and neck so you need to move the shoulder blades in a variety of different directions to stimulate all of the parts. The lats are even more complex as different portions go more laterally or more vertically, but they all attach to the upper arm bone. So pulling your upper arm bone from high up to downward in front of you (shoulder extension) may hit the vertical fibers more and pulling it from high up to downward lateral to you (shoulder adduction) may hit the lateral ones more.

    And will keeping the elbows close to the torso throughout the pull target the lats more intensely via internal rotation than would be the case in adduction in a vertical pull (which is admittedly a separate exercise)? I.e. is internal rotation more demanding and stressing to the muscle than adduction?
    The amount of shortening of the lats that occurs with internal rotation is much less than what occurs with shoulder extension and adduction so my guess is that the internal rotation component will be a lot less significant.
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    Yeah! Its kinda close.. If you do a gironda style lat pull like you mention.

    But without the arms moving (converging stretch/diverging contraction) its just not quite right.

    Rope/strap kinda improves it but I frequently can't get a stretch with a rope on just kit.
    I’m gonna have to try that with a rope attachment sometime!

    Conversely, I do a quadruped row at home by attaching bands to an anchor point, similar to this:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NcXVt3TuGAc

    But with the diverging contraction as you mentioned.
    Last edited by BeginnerGainz; 04-19-2021 at 07:58 PM.
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    Slight load decrease at top of movement with Tbar perhaps 20% due to lever angle - can calculate it if u want.

    Also Tbar allows you to pull backwards a little on the handle without it sliding away coz of hinge, this can help with lat targeting depending on your movements patterns.
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    Chest supported incline barbell row > traditional barbell row imo.
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    Pendlay Rows have never done it for me. If done with high reps it could work but its too fast a movement for me to feel the contraction.
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