Pendlay Rows

Pendlay Rows


Execution Cues:

- Find your terminal hamstring flexibility by hinging and bending over at the waist as far as you can without compromising your low back. Now allow your arms to hang down and reach for the floor. This should be the starting position of your Pendlay Row so adjust accordingly by manipulating the initial bar height.

- Once the bar is set, take a shoulder width stance. Hinge at the hips and grip the bar just outside shoulder width (or a couple inches wider than your shins). 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. 

- Breathe into your diaphragm and brace your abs. Slightly depress and retract your shoulders to pull tension into the bar.

- Now perform the concentric powerfully by 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 the floor. The weight should settle softly on the ground and come to a complete stop to finish the rep.



- Poor hamstring flexibility

- Poor thoracic mobility

- Poor shoulder mobility 

- Poor hip mobility

- Weak erectors

- Weak abs and obliques (if limiting positioning)

- Low coordination and/or proprioception (need to be able to find and maintain proper positioning)

- Low back pain (when load bearing)



- Block Pendlay Rows

- Bent Over DB Rows

- Deadstop Pronated Seated Low Cable Rows

- Chest Supported Pronated Tbar Rows

- Chest Supported Pronated Machine Rows

- Chest Supported Incline DB Jansen Rows

- Pronated Inverted Rows



- Bent Over Pronated Barbell Rows

- Bent Over Pronated Tbar Rows

- Deficit Pendlay Rows

- Swiss Bar Pendlay Rows

- Swiss Bar Bent Over Rows


Volume Parameters:

-5-8 sets per week

-3-6 rep range (For strength/power goals)

-5-12 rep range (For hypertrophy goals)


Applicable Intensity Techniques:

- Cluster Sets

- Rest Pause Sets

- Mechanical Drop Sets (Performing Pendlay Rows first and then transitioning into Bent Over Barbell Rows)


Programming Considerations:

Though generally seen as more difficult to master than a traditional Barbell Bent Over Row, the Pendlay Row is actually a great place for most trainees to spend the majority of their horizontal rowing time and volume. The pattern is the same, as are the goals of the movements, but importantly, the risk profile is much less while allowing for the same, if not more, benefits. We can also be much more confident that any progressions made in volume load with Pendlays are tangible because of the standardization of the range of motion compared to a BOR (bent over row) which can easily be diluted by shifting goalposts of execution. 

Due to the features of the Pendlay which make it much more strict, less absolute load can be used. This is actually a good thing overall because it allows for more volume to be accumulated without running into the same recovery barriers that might be prevalent with other row variations (especially those that are more low back intensive or have execution parameters similar to an RDL). More capacity for volume at the same or higher relative intensities means a greater potential for growth over the long term. This is also why Pendlays can be easily slotted in as a power/strength movement while simultaneously be used for general hypertrophy. Cross-application is a massive feather in the cap for this variation. 

Another really great use case for Pendlays is the ability to strengthen and stabilize the low back/erectors in a low pressure environment. The "on/off" requirements of bearing load provides a safety net for those suffering from or returning from a low back injury and trainees who need to practice this pattern but have limiting erector strength or endurance. It creates the perfect intermediary between avoidance of and overloading the problem.

It's important to note that Pendlay Rows (as with any pronated row) are NOT meant to be a lat biased movement. Those who attempt to prioritize their lats through this variation are missing the mark. Focus on scapular protraction (reach at the bottom) and retraction (pull your shoulder blades together at the top) to overload the mid back and even rear delts (the angle of shoulder extension is perfectly aligned for this). 

Pendlay Rows are a movement I would have no qualms with keeping in a program year-round. There will be very little, if any, overuse injuries stemming from long-term progression, and as mentioned before, risk of systemic overreaching due to these is basically non-existent. Paying attention to and avoiding staleness should be considered but can easily be circumvented through slight modifications to execution and rep schemes. The applications are virtually endless, and becoming proficient with Pendlays should be a priority for all serious trainees. 


Primary Use Case:

- Increase horizontal row strength and power when working in lower rep ranges (<6 reps)

- Hypertrophy of the mid back (mid/low traps and rhomboids) and rear delts

- Increase erector strength while minimizing risk of injury

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