When doing a chest supported back row at home using a barbell and a bench that can incline or be flat, what are the answers to the questions below regarding proper form

  1. Should the bar touch the bench -- if so, should the bar touch and go, or hold against the bench for a couple seconds, or should the bar come just short of the bench?

  2. What's the ideal angle for the bench? Does one work better than the other or is it just a matter of focusing on different muscle groups? Does the angle affect the muscles worked on a flat vs incline, regardless of grip position?

  3. If using an incline -- Does an incline bench have to be 30 or 45 degrees as 45 feels sort of awkward, stability wise and moving the bar?

  4. Do I retract my shoulder blades and depress my scapula?

1 Answer 1

  1. It really isn't likely to matter whether you touch the bench on each rep, assuming you're training similarly close to failure either way, although touching the bench does force you to use a consistent range of motion on each rep and not break down into cheat reps during the set. Pausing against the bench is likely a bad idea, as at best it is making an excessive proportion of the loading of the exercise occur when the muscles are shortened, which is suboptimal for hypertrophy, and at worst, if you need to raise your elbows higher than your sides in order to touch the bench, then you are completely changing the muscles worked by the exercise, and will only be able to use very light weights that won't actually benefit the lats, which are normally the target of this exercise. (The lats bring the elbows to the sides, but can't extend beyond that position. Only the rear deltoids can raise the elbows higher than the sides, so pausing in a position where the elbows are elevated to a position where the lats cannot work means that the weight you can use will be limited by your much weaker rear deltoids. Any kind of weight that the rear deltoids can lift will be far too light to challenge the lats, so modifying the exercise like this to force the rear deltoids to take all the weight of the bar will make it useless as a latissimus dorsi exercise.
  2. The more horizontal the bench, the greater range of motion you're working, which is generally better. However you can't have it so horizontal that the weight hits the ground before your arms are straight.
  3. It can be whatever angle the bench has stops for.
  4. You're generally looking for motion in your shoulder blades, since you're trying to work the muscles that retract them. So letting your shoulders pull forwards (protract) at the bottom of the movement, and retracting them during each rep. Unless you're doing a seal row, gravity should depress your shoulders anyway, so you don't need to worry about that part.

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