How to Perform the Pendlay Row for Maximum Results

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Pendlay Row Eccentric Phase

If you’re looking to add size and strength to your back, look no further than the Pendlay row.

This exercise is a great way to target all of the muscles in your back, including the spinal erectors, lats, rhomboids, and traps making it a complete back exercise.

In addition, the Pendlay row also works the hamstrings, biceps, and forearms.

If you want to build a stronger, more defined back, but don’t know how to do the Pendlay row.

Then follow these tips to ensure you’re performing it correctly and getting the most out of this exercise.

How To Perform The Pendlay Row

  1. Assume a shoulder-width stance with the barbell on the floor in front of you.
  2. Bend at your hips and knees to grasp the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Keep your back flat and retract your shoulder blades.
  4. From this position, row the barbell upward by pulling with your back, bringing the bar up to about waist height.
  5. Reverse the motion, and return the barbell to the floor. That’s one rep.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Execution Tips:

  • Limit upper body momentum and torso movement by using light enough weights.
  • Focus on pulling with your lats and elbows rather than the biceps
  • Keep your head tilted slightly up.
Pendlay Row Video Demonstration

Pendlay Row Set/Rep Ranges

  • 6×1-3 reps for strength
  • 5×6-8 reps for hypertrophy
  • 4×10-15+ reps for endurance or conditioning

Pendlay Rows are a powerful back and trap exercise that can be performed using a variety of set and rep ranges depending on your fitness goals.

To perform the row for strength, aim for 1-3 reps per set, using heavy weights and focusing on proper form and technique.

For muscle growth or hypertrophy, try 6-8 reps per set, focusing on squeezing and fully engaging your back muscles throughout each rep.

For endurance or conditioning, you can perform higher rep sets of 10-15+ reps, targeting the muscle with a lighter weight while still maintaining good form and technique.

Pendlay Row: Benefits

The Pendlay Row is an excellent way to strengthen and build up your back.

It is performed from a similar position as the traditional barbell row.

With the addition of its unique dead stop at the bottom of each rep, it provides an extra challenge that will help you maximize your gains and improve bracing power.

Whether you’re new to weight training or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, Pendlay Rows are a great addition to your workout routine.

All you need is a barbell and some weight plates, so give it a try today!

Standard benefits:

  • Builds back strength and muscle
  • Great way to build strength for other compound exercises
    • Squat, Bench press, Deadlift
  • Improves bracing strength
  • Improved back stabilization

Emotional benefits:

  • Achieve your workout goals and see great results
  • Feel proud of your back gains

Pendlay Rows: Muscles Worked

Pendlay Row Concentric Phase

The main muscles that you use are the spinal erectors, lats, trapezius, and rhomboids.

These muscles help you move your arms and shoulders.

They also help you with posture and spinal alignment.

The more evenly your strength develops between the left and right side muscles, the better your chances are of preventing injury.

Pendlay Rows also work the hamstrings, biceps, and forearms as secondary muscle targets.

Spinal Erector

These are a group of muscles that run the length of your spine.

They help to keep your spine straight and support your upper body.

They are involved in many exercises, including Pendlay Rows.

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi (lats) is a large muscle throughout your back.

It helps you move your arms and shoulders, and it also helps with posture and spinal alignment.


The trapezius is a muscle in your upper back.

It helps you move your arms and shoulders, and it also helps with posture and spinal alignment.


The rhomboids are a muscle in your upper back.

They help you move your arms and shoulders, and too they help with posture and spinal alignment.


The hamstrings are a group of muscles in the back of your leg.

They help you move your leg, and they also help with leg stability.

Biceps and Forearms

The biceps and forearms are two groups of muscles that help you move your arms and hands.

The biceps are in the front of your upper arm, and the forearms are in the back of your lower arm.

These muscle groups may also help with posture, shoulder stability, and grip strength.

Take Advantage Of Pendlay Rows!

If you’re looking to add mass and strength to your back, the Pendlay row is a great exercise to consider.

This article provides tips on how to perform the Pendlay row correctly so that you can get the most out of your back workouts.

Follow these tips to ensure you’re performing the exercise correctly and see results in no time!

  • Targets all the major muscles in your back
  • Works hamstrings, biceps, and forearms
  • Improves bracing strength and back stabilization
  • Helps build strength in other compound exercises

It can be hard to know which back exercises are the best for you.

Most people only do a few basic exercises like barbell rows or lat pulldowns, but these exercises can actually be less effective when they’re overutilized week after week without switching things up.

The Pendlay row is a great alternative to these basic exercises and is a great way to isolate all the main parts of your back.

Pendlay Row vs. Bent-Over Barbell Row

The pendlay row is a more difficult exercise than the bent-over barbell row because it requires more bracing power and stabilization.

With the pendlay row, you must keep your back flat and maintain control of the weight as you lift and lower it.

The bent-over barbell row is a simpler exercise that does not require as much bracing and stabilization ability since you can use your momentum to help lift the weight.

While both exercises target the back, the pendlay row also engages the hamstrings and upper body more than the bent-over barbell row.

This makes it a great choice for athletes or anyone who is looking to build strength and power in their upper body and legs.

If you are new to strength training, or if you have any back pain or injuries, it is important to talk to your doctor or a certified personal trainer before starting either of these exercises.

They can help you determine which exercise is right for you and how to perform it safely.

Pendlay Row Variations

Try out these variations of the pendlay row!

Reverse Grip Pendlay Rows

  1. Position the barbell so that it is in front of you, and your palms are facing away from you.
  2. Bend at your hips and knees, and reach down to grasp the bar with an underhand grip.
  3. Keeping your back flat, lift the barbell to your waist, and then slowly lower it back down.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Reverse grip pendlay rows are a great way to put more emphasis on the lower lats and biceps.

Reverse Grip Pendlay Row

Kettlebell Pendlay Rows

  • Position the kettlebells between your feet and grip them with an overhand grip.
  • Lean forward and hinge at your hips to lift the kettlebells off the ground.
  • Row the kettlebells up to the sides of your waistline, maintaining a strong back and keeping your shoulder blades retracted.
  • Lower the kettlebells back to the ground and repeat.

Dead Stop Chest Supported Row

  1. Lie down on your stomach on the bench with a slight incline, with your feet on the ground.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Brace your abs and keep your back flat as you lift the bar off the ground.
  4. Row the bar up to the under part of the bench, pause, and then lower it back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for reps.
  6. If the bench is too low to the ground place a weight plate under it to add an extra range of motion.

Pendlay Row Alternatives

Here are three alternative options to pendlay rows.

T-bar Row

  1. Choose the weight you will use for your t-bar.
  2. Position the barbell against the corner of a wall or in a t-bar extension on a power rack. Or use a t-bar-guided machine.
  3. Step forward so that your body is congruent with the barbell, and reach down and grasp the bar with a t-bar handle attachment.
  4. Keep your back straight and core engaged as you slowly lift the barbell until your hands are just below your chest.
  5. Slowly lower the barbell back down toward the starting position, being careful not to let it touch the ground.
  6. Repeat this motion for the desired number of repetitions, taking care to keep your form and technique consistent throughout each rep.
  7. When you are finished with your set, carefully return the barbell to its starting position on the rack or other surface. Then take a short break before performing another set, if desired.

Dead Stop Dumbbell Row

  1. Place one hand and one knee on a bench, chair, or box for support.
  2. Bend at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the ground.
  3. With your free hand, hold a dumbbell with your palm facing your torso.
  4. Row the weight up to the side of your chest, keeping your core engaged and back flat.
  5. Lower the weight back to the floor, then repeat with the other arm.
  6. Perform sets of 8-12 repetitions on each side, depending on your fitness level.
  7. To increase the intensity of this exercise, try using a heavier dumbbell or performing more sets/reps.

Standard Barbell Rows

  1. Place a barbell in front of you on the floor
  2. Bend at your waist and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, your hands shoulder-width apart
  3. Keeping your back straight, pull the barbell up to your waist, focusing on using your back rather than your arms
  4. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position (don’t let the weight touch the floor)
  5. Repeat this process for the desired number of repetitions, making sure to keep your back and core engaged throughout the movement.
  6. To further increase the challenge of a standard barbell row, consider adding weight or increasing the time under tension. You can also try performing the row in a staggered stance for added stability, or using an underhand grip to target different muscle groups.
  7. Whatever bent-over row variation you choose, be sure to always use proper form and technique when performing a bent-over row to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at!