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Standing Barbell Rows

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body, which was voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

Want to functionally strengthen both your upper and lower back? Want super-strong legs? How about getting all of this from one exercise? Try this compound movement for whole body benefit.

Muscles Worked
Back, Legs

Starting Position
Start in a modified squat position, with your body bent at the knees and hips and your back flat. Your shoulders should be directly over your knees or only slightly in front them, and your upper body should inclined forward at an angle slightly less than 45 degrees. Hold a barbell in front of your body using an overhand grip, with your palms facing you and your hands shoulder-width apart (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, lift the barbell up to your sternum by bringing your elbows back and your shoulder blades together for each rep. Keep your lower back and abs stable and engaged so that you maintain your back’s normal arch—make sure your back doesn't become rounded. Keep your elbows close to you as you lift (see Photo 2).
  2. At the top of your range of motion, your elbows will be behind you and your shoulder blades contracted. From this position, lower the barbell back to the starting position, keeping your back flat throughout (see Photo 3).
  3. Repeat the exercise for a total of 12 repetitions.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.