How To Do Pendlay Rows

Pendlay Rows (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

The Pendlay row is a compound exercise that targets the muscles in your back, specifically the lats, mid trapezius and rhomboids. It is named after Glenn Pendlay, a well-known Olympic weightlifting coach.

This exercise is similar to the traditional Barbell Bent Over Row, but with a few key differences that make it a unique and effective way to build strength and muscle mass.

In this guide, I will go over the proper form for performing Pendlay rows, as well as some tips and benefits to help you get the most out of this exercise.

How To Do Pendlay Rows

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell
  • Bumper Plates

Muscles Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Teres Major
  • Middle Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior Deltoids
  • Biceps

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  • Brace the core.
  • Explosively lift the bar off the ground and pull it towards the bottom of your sternum, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  • Allow the bar to fall back down to the ground
  • Reset and repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.

Coaching Points

Pendlay Rows look very similar to Barbell Bent Over Rows but are actually significantly different. Each rep starts from the floor and should be done in an explosive fashion. This is not a slow and controlled time under tension-focused exercise.

Make sure you brace and lock in your core before each rep.

It’s important to keep your form strict while performing Pendlay rows. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the entire movement.

Benefits of Pendlay Rows

The intended benefit of a Pendlay Row is not just to build muscle mass (although they will help do that as well), but to help improve the pulling explosively of the back and biceps. Being able to generate more power with the upper body pull is very beneficial for the Olympic Lifts.

As mentioned at the start of this guide, this exercise was named after Glenn Pendlay, an Olympic lifting coach.

Having said that, Pendlay Rows are not just beneficial for Olympic lifters. Any lifter or athlete that wants to increase upper body power will absolutely benefit from incorporating Pendlay Rows into their training.

Pendlay Row Alternatives

Need an alternative exercise for Pendlay Rows? Here are a couple of movements you may be able to use as a substitute.

Need more options? Here are my 10 favorite alternatives for Pendlay Rows.

Barbell Bent Over Rows

Barbell Bent Over Rows

Barbell Rows have already been mentioned and they’re the most obvious alternative to Pendlay Rows because of how similar the movement patterns are.

If you want to focus more on strength and hypertrophy, then Bent Over Rows are probably going to be the alternative that makes the most sense.

Dumbbell One Arm Row

If you don’t have a barbell, but you do have dumbbells then One Arm Rows may work great as a replacement. They’re also going to emphasize more strength and hypertrophy as opposed to power, but they are a great fundamental exercise to have in your workouts.

Single Arm Snatch

Single Arm DB Muscle Snatch

Single Arm Snatches are a great option if you’re interested in another movement that is going to be power-focused. They can be done with either a dumbbell or kettlebell and are one of my favorite Olympic lift variations.

More Links and Info

If you’d like to see more upper body exercises then make sure to check out the Upper Body Lifts section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of chest, back and shoulder movements – all with complete detailed instructions.

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