Deadlifts can be an extremely beneficial exercise for any workout routine, as it targets multiple muscle groups and offers a range of benefits. Deadlifts are one of the best movements for improving overall strength and power, as well as improving posture and stability in the core and lower body.
However, some people may be hesitant to include Deadlifts in their workouts due to the risk of injury if proper form is not maintained, or due to physical limitations that make it difficult to perform the exercise correctly.
In these cases, lifters may consider Bent Over Rows as an alternative exercise that can target similar muscle groups. Bent Over Rows are a compound exercise that primarily works the muscles in the back, biceps, and shoulders, and also engages the core and legs to a lesser extent.
While they do not offer the full-body benefits of deadlifts, could Bent Over Rows replace Deadlifts in a training program? Let’s discuss it.
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Muscle Groups Worked
First, let’s examine the muscle groups at work with both exercises.
Deadlifts are a compound exercise that involves multiple muscle groups in the lower body and upper body. They’re one of the ultimate total body exercises where almost every muscle group in the body is engaged at some point during the movement.
The primary muscle groups targeted during deadlifts are the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. In addition, the muscles in the upper back, arms, shoulders and core are also activated as well to maintain proper form and provide stability.
Bent Over Row
Bent Over Rows, on the other hand, primarily target the muscles in the back, biceps, and shoulders. The muscles in the upper back (such as the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids) are engaged to pull the weight towards the body, while the biceps and shoulder muscles assist in the movement.
The core is also heavily involved to maintain proper body position and stability. Finally, the posterior chain (low back, glutes, hamstrings) is engaged but to a much lesser extent than it is with Deadlifts.
Now, let’s discuss the potential benefits of each exercise.
Deadlifts are known for their numerous benefits, including increased strength and power, improved posture, and increased stability in the core and lower body.
One of the primary benefits of Deadlifts is their ability to increase overall strength and power. Deadlifts are easily one of the top 3 exercises for developing pure total-body strength.
Not only do Deadlifts engage almost every muscle in the body, but it’s an exercise that lends itself to being done with a significant amount of weight. This combination makes it ideal for packing on muscle mass and improving strength.
Bent Over Rows
Bent Over Rows also offer a range of benefits, including improved upper body strength, as well as increased stability in the back and core.
Bent Over Rows is one of the most effective rowing exercises for building strength and size. Compared to other rowing movements, Barbell Bent Over Rows allows for the lifter to move a good amount of weight (although nowhere near Deadlifts). Also, the bent rowing body position engages quite a few muscle groups in the body.
This makes Bent Over Rows an excellent option for developing back strength and size.
Drawbacks of Trying to Replace Deadlifts with Rows
While Bent Over Rows can be a valuable addition to a strength training program, they should not be seen as a replacement for deadlifts.
The biggest drawback of trying to replace Deadlifts with Bent Over Rows is that you will be missing out on the total-body benefits of deadlifts.
Deadlifts are a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and upper body, making them an excellent choice for improving overall strength and power. In comparison, Bent Over Rows only really target the muscles in the upper body, so they are not going to provide the same full-body benefits as deadlifts.
I also want to mention that if you’re trying to avoid Deadlifts because of low back issues, Bent Over Rows may not be a good choice either. Bent Over Rows can place a lot of stress on the low back, especially if used with poor technique.
In this situation, you may want to look into other alternatives for Barbell Bent Over Rows like Inverted Rows or Chest-Supported Rows. Here are 10 of my favorite Barbell Bent Over Row alternatives.
My first suggestion would be, if possible, to include both exercises in your training program. Both are excellent options with their own unique benefits.
If Deadlifts simply aren’t an option, try to pair Bent Over Rows with other exercises that can provide similar benefits to Deadlifts. Romanian Deadlifts, Kettlebell Swings and Back Squats are all examples of exercises that can fill some of the holes so to speak to replace Deadlifts.
Deadlifts and Bent Over Rows are both valuable exercises that can offer a range of benefits for strength training.
Deadlifts are a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups in the lower body and upper body, including the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and upper body, making them an excellent choice for improving overall strength and power.
In comparison, Bent Over Rows primarily target the muscles in the upper body, including the back, biceps, and shoulders, and can also improve back strength and core stability.
While both exercises offer unique benefits, ideally you would want to incorporate both Deadlifts and Bent Over Rows into your workout routine for optimal results.