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.

When:

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.

Why:

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

Weightlifters
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.

Powerlifters
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.

CrossFitters
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.

How:

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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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.