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The Pendlay Row – How It Benefits Your Training

The Pendlay Row, aka the bent over or bent forward row, is a great assistance lifting exercise for many power, strength and fitness athletes. This row variation is a more specific way to increase back strength and muscular development for pulling movements, such as snatches, cleans, and deadlifts. Additionally, the strict fashion of this row builds positional strength that carries over to weightlifting specific movements and pulls. Let’s explore why the Pendlay Row can be an effective training exercise across various strength and power sports.

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The History of The Pendlay Row

The Pendlay Row was named after Glenn Pendlay, USA Weightlifting Coach, after his teachings of the bent over row to athletes. This strict row variation differs from the traditional “bodybuilding” bent row variation to better isolate the lats and mimic the pulling positions during weightlifting movements.


This training exercise is often performed after main power and strength lifts to further isolate the lats, spinal erectors, and patterning similar to pulling exercises.


Determining the intended training outcome of this exercise will dictate the order in which you may perform it in a training session/cycle.

The main goal of this exercise in weightlifting training is to develop and increase lats and lower back strength and muscle that are similar to the pulls in both weightlifting movements. Increasing the isolation of the hips and back  allows lifters to apply additional stress to promote muscular hypertrophy under full ROM.

This assistance exercise allows for more specific training of the hips and back, both playing a crucial role in deadlifting. Additionally, lifters can work to improve stabilization of the lumbar and spine in the bent position, which will assist in the development of a healthier, stronger, deadlift.

Isolated exercises, often not seen in functional fitness WODs, can be a beneficial aspect to one’s program. The increased emphasis on hip, lat, and lower back development may improve not only the barbell lifts, but also injury prevention.


Generally speaking, strength and power athletes looking to use Pendlay Row to increase strength and muscle mass can perform these as follows.Generally, these rows are performed in strict fashion, with moderate loads of 6-10 repetitions per set.

  1. With the barbell on the floor, set up with slightly wider than shoulder width grip to increase lat and back width in the pull.
  2. Set the hips so that they are in line with the shoulders, keeping the lower back flat.
  3. With the barbell on the floor, create tension, and explosively pull the barbell to the base of the chest, making sure to not elevate the shoulders and/or allow the hips to come forward.
  4. Return the barbell under control to the floor, reset, and repeat for controlled, strict repeitions.

 Final Thoughts

No matter your sport or goals, the Pendlay Row is a viable assistance exercise to increase back and hip strength and power, improve and maintain full ROM in the hips and pull movements, and ultimately diversifying your upper body training.

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