Rows are one of the most essential exercises for building your back muscles, if not the most-important one. In this article here we will focus on the standing row version with resistance bands, if you look for the seated version please check here.
In the first part of this article, we will show you how to execute a standing row with a resistance band properly and in the second part, you find some really nice alternative ways to do this exercise to either go lighter or harder on it to really work the different muscles in your back the way you need it.
Standing Row With Resistance Band
Let’s jump right into how you do the basic standing row with resistance bands.
Band VS Weights
Doing your rows with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with your free weights or a cable machine.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With a cable machine or on a pull-up bar, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Overload at home! There’s almost no way to build your back muscles at home without additional equipment or a bar. Resistance bands are a great way to use at home
- Flexibility! with bands you can use a grip you want without and additional equipment, depending on what muscle area you want to focus on your standing rows.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a standing row, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, check it out here.
How To Standing Row The Right Way
The main purpose of the row exercise is to train the muscles is your back by pulling the resistance band towards you.
You will anchor the resistance band in front of you with a door anchor or wrap it around a heavy piece of furniture or rack and walk back unlit you get some resistance. Get your back straight and your shoulder blades together and stick your chest out. For a better stability bent your kneed slightly so you are in a very shallow squat.
Now pull the band towards your upper body without moving your upper body. When you pull the band you want to focus on pulling your elbows back instead of bringing the band towards you, this will help a lot to not involving a lot of your bicep during the movement.
Now it depends on where you want to put your focus and you can either hit the lat harder or the traps/rhomboids.
Pull towards your belly to focus more on your lats. To do this keep your elbows as close to your body. (Left Picture)
Flare your elbows if you want to hit your traps and rhomboids more. (Right Picture)
You will always hit all of them but you can focus on one of them if you want to. This is the basic version of targeting with standing rows with resistance bands, more on that below when we take a look at the different grips.
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
⓵ Don’t internally rotate shoulder – a very common mistake is internal shoulder rotation when your shoulders will point forwards. This position will not get you into a full contraction and make the standing row a lot less effective plus put extra stress on your rotator cuff and might lead to injuries long-term. Especially if you do this with lighter weight you run into this issue because you don’t feel the contraction that hard.
⓶ Upper Body Movement – with rowing, especially when having poor stance with your feet or using too much resistance of the band, people tend to start moving front and back with the upper body to gain momentum. This is a mistake that will cause you to make this exercise less effective so try to keep your upper body as straight and fixed as possible while pulling your elbows back as much as possible.
⓷ No Slack – when you are in the fully extended position you still need to have some resistance of the band pulling and prevent slack.
Slack is giving you a lot less potential to really work your muscles and if you can’t do the standing row without having slack in the band, you need to take a lighter band and stretch the band more to get the best resistance that’s working for you.
⓸ Foot Position – many people use a parallel stance but you will very likely use a resistance that’s a bit heavier since your back muscles are pretty large. Having the feet next to each other might not be enough to get a stable stance, even if you bend your knees slightly and you will start to move your upper body with the resistance of the band. Set one foot in front and use it to stabilize the resistance to keep your upper body in a fixed position.
There are basically 3 different grip variations then it comes to rows – neutral, overhand and underhand.
The difference is quite small but it is still good to know what each grip is for.
- Neutral Grip – This is your most stable position. With this grip you should be able to handle the most resistance. Most of the work will be performed by your back and your biceps is slightly helping. You can also use this grip for the flared elbow version.
- Underhand Grip – This will involve your biceps the most. Perfect if you want to sneak a bit of biceps work in your back workout. Or simply to pre-exhaust your biceps in your back portion of your workout before hitting biceps directly. It is not suitable to be used with the flared elbow version.
- Overhand Grip – This grip is perfect for the flared elbow row variation. But you can also use this grip for the lat variation of the row. This will have the least biceps involvement and you will do most of the work with your back.
Alternative Ways To Standing Row With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with the traditional way of doing the standing row as shown above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of the alternative ways.
Kneeling Version – if you have problems keeping your upper body in a fixed position for good form in during the standing row you might switch it up a little bit by dropping on your knees and setting the band anchor point lower.
Here you have one leg in front and feel more stability. But always mind keeping your back straight!
Seated Row – seated rows are an alternative that you can also try out and it might be working better for you – we’ve written a full article about seated rows with resistance band here.
Get Your Pump
If you really want to work your back muscles and have already made some progress, you will get to a point where the band resistance might get too much so you can’t really hold it standing while maintaining clean form.
This is the point where you can switch gears and go to uni-arm version of the standing row with only using one arm with the resistance band. Now you need less resistance to fully work that muscle.
Another advantage of this setup is that you get a little more range-of-motion because you can fully rotate your shoulder blade in without the other side pushing against it.
If you have problems at the beginning with the full range-of-motion when you do the standing row with one arm you can try this here to feel the proper contraction:
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Full Back Workout
Simply doing standing rows is not a full back workout as there are multiple muscles working in your back – we have here a full back workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest pump you can ever think of – check it out here.