Tip: The Thick Back Trick

Make your rows even more effective. All you need is a cheap little accessory... and you probably already have it.


Adding a simple resistance band to your row variations increases the concentric tension as you row/pull towards your body, and it increases the eccentric tension as you extend your arms. And that means new gains.

Here are five ways to do it:

In this variation, the band tension is pulling you (and the bar) straight down to the floor, increasing the demand on your lower back extensors to maintain optimal positioning.

  • Have a band looped around both ends of the barbell. The band should be on the floor.
  • Stand with both feet on the band so when you pick the bar up the tension increases.
  • Hinge forward slightly, then pull the bar toward your sternum.

Where the previous variation put more emphasis on the extension muscles of the lower/mid back, this one really targets the lats.

Remember, one of the functions of the lats is to extend the shoulder. When you stand with the bar, the bands will naturally try to yank it away from you. Your lats are going to engage before you even start rowing and throughout the set, so extend the shoulder and keep the bar close.

  • Have two bands looped around a rack (at about hip-height) with each one attached to one end of the barbell.
  • Pick up the bar and stand far enough away from the rack so you feel the bands pull the bar out away from you.
  • Hinge forward slightly and perform rows, keeping the bar close to your body throughout the whole set.

Hammer Strength machines are some of the best out there. Couple them with bands and you have yourself a back-building powerhouse.

  • Have the bands looped around both ends of the machine as shown in the video.
  • Choose whichever grip you prefer and initiate the pull with your elbows.
  • As you pull in, you'll notice the bands lengthen and increase tension.

Some say inverted rows are the fat man's pull-up. I disagree. The variety and scalability offer an effective training experience for all lifters.

What's more, horizontal rows are more conducive to healthy posture. The majority of lifters will emphasize vertical pulling (chin-ups and pulldowns) over horizontal rowing. There's not anything wrong with vertical pulls, but they are lat-dominant exercises, which are internal rotators of the shoulder.

Most people are already internally rotated due to their posture throughout the day and constant bench pressing. To reverse these negative effects, add more horizontal rowing patterns into your training. They directly train the mid-back muscles and encourage an upright posture with optimal shoulder positioning.

  • Place two heavy dumbbells at your sides on the floor with a band looped around both. The dumbbells should be far enough away from each other to create tension in the band.
  • Lay on your back with the band placed above your sternum.
  • Pull yourself up.

Dumbbell rows are a staple. This variation is one of the best.

  • Place your flat bench facing the rack.
  • Loop a band around the bottom of the rig, then loop the other around the dumbbell.
  • Place your right knee and right hand on the bench while rowing with your left hand.
  • Keep your right arm locked and "push" yourself away from the bench throughout the entire set.
  • Initiate the pull with your left elbow and pull back toward your hip to increase band tension.