As a spunky, young athlete I was a go getter when it came to training and preparing for my respective sports. Usually, I would hit the gym with no plan at all. I loved pushing exercises (bench press, push-ups, shoulder press) and all the exercises that would help me look good in a t-shirt.

Early on, I began to develop shoulder problems. Pain was prevalent in the front of my shoulders and I had issues even lifting my arms above my head. 

All that time I had spent trying to perfect those “cool’ pushing exercises actually had become a detriment because I had not spent enough time strengthening the complimentary back muscles with pulling exercises.

As I’ve grown older and more experienced, I’ve looked back and learned how important pulling exercises like bent over rows are to developing strong, stable and pain free shoulders. By implementing this simple exercise into my routine, it has helped me break through many other strength plateaus! 

Below, is just a short list of the benefits you will experience when you include the bent over row in your training routine.


Because the bent over row involves stabilization of the midline through the lift and is static in nature compared to a kipping pull-up, it does not add excessive strain to the shoulders. 

It isolates the muscles in the back, lats, shoulders, glutes and hamstrings which makes it an ideal tool for strengthening and stabilizing the shoulder, strengthening the core and building a neurological connection.

When these three items are used together you can train and automate the use of specific muscles needed for activation in other exercises. 

By training the bent over row (a horizontal pulling exercise) you will also be able to increase the number of muscle fibers recruited in the back and lats in comparison to only training vertical pulling exercises such as pull-ups or lat pull-downs.

This is highly beneficial for preventing training injuries,  increasing shoulder stability for daily activity and helping improve posture. 

Finally, because the bent over row does not require as much torque on the shoulder as a kipping exercise, it is an excellent lift for someone training through an injury who cannot perform a full range of motion pull-up. 


The bent over row is a multi-jointed exercise that recruits several different muscles. It improves strength in the upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, lats, and shoulders. 

This makes it an awesome tool for targeting the muscles and portions of the lift that help with breaking through plateaus for improving strength for pull-ups, muscle-ups and even pushing exercises like bench press, push-ups or ring dips!


By improving your upper body strength, you’re also building lean muscle. When you build lean muscle, it increases your resting metabolic rate, burning more calories through the day, and increases lean body composition. 

Lean body composition correlates to a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreased risk of chronic disease.

The bent over row is a critical component for preventing shoulder injuries, for building upper body strength, and burning fat! The health benefits reach far and wide!

COACH PHIL KNIEP – Owner & CEO of Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness

Precision Nutrition L1 Coach

CrossFit Level 3 Trainer

Endurance Certified

Mobility Certified

Scaling Certified

3x CrossFit Games Qualifier

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