How The Reverse Grip Row Builds Bigger Backs and Bis

reverse grip row

Row your way to a bigger, stronger back.

Building our backs may seem challenging but it is quite the opposite with exercises like the reverse grip row. Working with those top exercises to build muscle and improve other areas of our gains can make those back building days just a touch easier, especially as you look to improve your overall gains. A bigger and stronger back goes way beyond simply aesthetic.

A muscular back does look good, don’t get us wrong, however, working with a stronger back improves posture and stabilization as you look to perform more efficient functional movements and more powerful sport specific ones. With an effective exercise like the reverse grip row, these can be accomplished in no time.


Let’s take a look at the reverse grip row and see what makes this exercise so great. From what it is, to muscles worked, the great benefits of it, and how best to perform it, this guide will set you up so you can put this into any routine you have. Plus, we will offer up some alternatives and good exercises to pair with to make your entire workout experience with the reverse grip row worth it.

reverse grip row

What Is The Reverse Grip Row?

The reverse grip row was made popular by legendary bodybuilder, Dorian Yates, and is often referred to as the Yates Row for this reason. A great strength building exercise using the barbell, this row is typically used for heavy training in order to build back strength, among other muscle groups. It is effective for building both strength and size, while also enhancing those pulling movements, since your lats are crucial muscles used for pulling. This will also enhance power and stability given the nature of this movement.

Related: The Ultimate At-Home Barbell Workouts

Muscles Worked

For this exercise, you will mainly feel your lats and middle back muscles get work done, as this is an effective back builder. However, your biceps and shoulders do feel a burn given the nature of the pulling movement. While shoulders are a “push” muscle, you will still find that these are necessary for added stability and to assist with the overall movement. Your core will see great work done as well given the nature of stabilizing and really feeling grounded and you lift big weight.

reverse grip row

Benefits Of The Reverse Grip Row

The benefits of the reverse grip row are great and should reflect what you are looking for if you choose to put this exercise into your routine. It may seem easy to say that this exercise simply builds muscle and call it day. But Dorian Yates used this exercise to continue a dominant bodybuilding career so there must be something up with reverse grip rows.

Benefits of the reverse grip row include:

  • Works those upper body muscles: By working your lats and biceps, you get a well-rounded exercise to build upper body muscles while also looking enhance overall strength and size.
  • Build stability: Strengthening your core and working to improve the position of your spine will enhance stability for those more functional movements, as well as any sport specific needs when it comes to other workouts.
  • Can lift more weight: Using the barbell can allow you to pack on weight so you lift more and see bigger gains to muscle hypertrophy, making this exercise totally worth it.
  • Offer interesting row variation: This offers a good variation to the row that actually works to build your back more and challenge your biceps in a different, more effective way.

Related: Back At It: Top 3 Back Exercises For Beginners

How To Perform It

Knowing how best to perform this exercise will allow you the benefit of doing so safely while lifting tons of weight. This ensures no unwanted soreness or injury takes you out of the gym. Technique is something real lifters take seriously, but for those who just show up, pack on weight, and start lifting, this can be a disaster if not done correctly.


Here are the steps for performing the reverse grip row:

  1. Stand tall while holding the barbell with your palms facing up.
  2. Bending slightly at the knees, engage your core and keep your back straight. Your arms will be perpendicular to the ground thus making this your starting position.
  3. When ready, lift the barbell by keeping your elbows close to your body as you lift. At the top, you can give your back muscles a squeeze to get the most out of this.
  4. Lower back down to the starting position in a controlled motion while still keeping your core tight and your back neutral.
  5. Repeat for your desired number of sets and reps.

reverse grip row

Other Back Exercises To Pair With

As a part of a great back building routine, it is important to know what to look for in order to round out a great workout. Knowing what exercises work best to pair with this can enhance your workouts and take them to the next level as you look to see the best gains possible. Other top back building exercises to pair with the reverse grip row include:

While there are plenty of other exercises, both back-oriented and not, to pair with this exercise, we wanted to share a few to get you started. The more you train with the reverse grip row, the more comfortable you will feel as you start branching out into other areas of back building exercises.

Wrap Up

The reverse grip row is a great back building exercise to enhance your gains so you see the best results possible. As an effective way to build strength and size, while also working to get the most out of working other muscles aside from your lats, this exercise is one to give you the best chance at seeing those results you want most. Dorian Yates became a bodybuilding legend because of his work ethic and this exercise, also known as the Yates Row, is just one of many reasons why. Try this exercise today and see what it can do for your back building gains.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.