Inverted Row vs Bent Over Barbell Row

Inverted Row vs Bent Over Barbell Row

Execution Cues:

Inverted Row:
- Set up in a power rack or Smith machine. Depending on goals, the modality used can differ between a straight bar, neutral bar (Swiss), or TRX straps/rings. I will proceed assuming TRX straps are being used. 
- Anchor the base strap to an overhead cross bar running parallel to the floor. This bar should be ~7-9 feet high to allow for body position adjustments. 
- Lengthen or shorten the handle straps to the desired length. This will be dependent on your strength level (longer straps will generally make for a harder row and vice versa). For our scenario here, let's have them come down to hip height when hanging free. 
- Grab the handles (one in each hand), bent your elbows and bring your hands up to your chest, then slowly step back until the straps are taut. Now continue stepping back as you allow your elbows to straighten until the straps are once again taut.
- From this position with your arms outstretched and tension being applied to the straps, lean your torso back as you slowly walk your feet forward changing the angle of your body. Continue this until your arms are perpendicular to your torso. 
- You should now be supporting a fraction of your bodyweight with your hands (gripping the strap handles) and the rigidity of your body. Adjust the desired difficulty of the movement by changing your body angle; the more parallel you are to the floor, the harder the row will be. 
- Now you should be in the start position for the row. Keep your hands pronated, shoulder blades protracted and spine neutral.
- Begin the rep first by bracing your abs and contracting your glutes (to maintain rigidity) then flex your elbows and extend the shoulders. As you continue through the concentric, slowly rotate your hands from pronated to neutral while concurrently "tucking" your elbows tighter to your torso through shoulder flexion. 
- The handles should be following the forearms relatively passively but the target area should be your lower chest/upper abdomen. Continue the pull until scapular retraction and shoulder extension have been exhausted. In this terminal position, your torso, hips and legs should still be a singular unit. 
- From here, slowly shift into the eccentric to reverse the motion and return to the beginning of the rep with arms fully extended and perpendicular to the torso. 
- When the set is over, slowly walk your feet up while maintaining tension in the straps until standing upright. 

Bent Over Barbell Row:
- Set a straight barbell up in a power rack as if to do RDLs. The j hooks should be mid-thigh. 
- Once the bar is set, walk up to it and grip the bar overhand just outside shoulder width (or a couple inches wider than your shins). I would recommend using straps for these so your grip isn't the limiting factor.
- Slide your knees under the bar until it's touching your thighs. Your torso should be vertical with a neutral pelvis, but your knees should now be bent and under the bar. Keep your arms straight. 
- Unrack the bar by extending the knees to stand up tall and take on the full weight of the barbell in your hands. Take small, careful steps back to clear the bar from the rack. Once you're completely clear, stand tall again and take a moment to regain balance and generate full-body rigidity. Your pelvis should be neutral with abs and glutes contracted/braced. 
-To begin the rep, take a diaphragmatic breath to brace then hinge at the hips until your torso is ~30º relative to the floor. Keep the bar tight to your thighs the entire decent into position. The bar should be over your mid foot. Your spine should be neutral from lumbar to cervical. Avoid the inclination to look up and instead keep your chin tucked.
- Once in this now-static hinge position with arms fully extended and the bar hanging at roughly mid-shin, begin the concentric by powerfully rowing the bar into your upper abdomen while keeping your hips and trunk static. Make sure to touch the bar to your belly at the top of the rep. Think about fully retracting your shoulder blades.
- From here, shift into the eccentric and control the descent all the way back to full elbow extension. Once the set is over, extend the hips to complete the "RDL" pattern that was initiated before and stand upright once again. Allow the load to stabilize then slowly walk the bar back into the rack.

Key Similarities: 
- Horizontal Row Pattern
- Primarily target the rhomboids and mid/low traps through active scapular retraction
- Depend on stability from non-target muscle groups and structures 
- Active ROM is limited by pec/anterior delt tightness, thoracic spine extension, and scapular mobility
- Both variations are relatively portable

Key Differences: 
- Inverted rows are non-axially loaded whereas BOBBRs place a large demand on the erectors and structures of the low back.
- Inverted rows use bodyweight as the primary resistance. BOBBRs are more easily loaded and progressed via external weights. 
- BOBBRs are more technical to perform correctly and require a base level of skill. Inverted rows are very beginner-friendly.
- Due to resistance curve variations, the tempos that each can operate well under are different. For example, one can easily pause an inverted row in contraction while that would be nearly impossible to do with the BOBBR with any reasonable amount of load. 
- Inverted rows have a very low risk of injury while BOBBRs are on the opposite end of the spectrum. 
- BOBBRs generate a lot more systemic fatigue, comparatively.
- Inverted rows can be easily used in supersets and circuits due to the low skill requirement and low risk of injury. BOBBRs should generally be performed as a stand-alone exercise with sufficient rest periods. 
- Inverted rows cater well towards higher reps (15+) while BOBBRs do not. 
- Conversely to the above, BOBBRs are much better for power development due to their loading and ability to traverse the lower rep ranges (5-8). 
- Inverted rows are well suited for intensity techniques like mechanical drop sets, myoreps, cluster sets, etc. BOBBRs are almost always going to be most effective when done with straight sets. 
- Inverted rows can be used in metabolic phases while BOBBRs are better suited for strict overloading. 

Primary Use Case for Inverted Row:
- Hypertrophy of the Rhomboids, Mid/Low Traps, Lats, and Rear Delts
- Horizontal Row variation for working around Low Back issues 

Primary Use Case for Bent Over Barbell Row:
- Hypertrophy of the Erectors, Rhomboids, Mid/Low Traps, and Rear Delts
- Increase Horizontal Pulling Strength

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