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Barbell Rows: Chest Vs. Stomach

author image Lisa M. Wolfe
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.
Barbell Rows: Chest Vs. Stomach
A barbell row strengthens your back. Photo Credit Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A barbell row is a strength training exercise for your back, which is not the only muscle group to benefit from this exercise. Your arms will also develop strength. Strength training exercises are best used with a variety of hand positions, speeds, weights, rest periods and body positions. The barbell row is no exception. Whether to finish your row at your chest or stomach might be a case of you say "to-may-to," I say "to-mah-to," or a way to vary your workout.


A barbell is a straight bar that can vary in length from 3 to 6 feet. The ends of an Olympic barbell are slightly wider than the middle. You slide weight plates onto the ends of the bar to increase the amount of weight you lift. A standard Olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds without any weight added to it.


You use a barbell row to strengthen your back. The row begins with your barbell on the ground. You place your feet underneath the bar, bend your knees to squat and take hold of the bar with both hands. You can position your palms toward you, away from you, or one palm facing each direction. The initial movement is in your legs as you straighten your legs to lift the bar off the ground. The row begins as you bend your arms and pull the barbell toward your body.


Finish the row by pulling the bar into your stomach, which some refer to as your upper abdomen, or lower chest. According to the American Council on Exercise, or ACE, in the stomach finishing position, you squeeze your shoulder blades toward each other and tighten your abdomen to support your back. Keeping the barbell lower toward your stomach might be a reminder to tighten your stomach, which helps prevent your lower back from extensive curving as you lift the barbell.


The lower portion of your chest is an acceptable place to finish your barbell row. Bodybuilding.com suggests pulling the barbell to your lower chest when using a palms-down hand position. This position allows you to keep your elbows in close to the body and squeeze your shoulder blades together to strengthen your middle back.

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