Chinups and lat pulldowns will make your lats wider, but if you want a thick, densely-muscled back, you need to do rows. The T-bar row allows you to use a neutral grip—palms facing each other—which is the biomechanically strongest position to pull from. This gives T-bars an advantage over bentover rows, where the palms are turned down. Because you can use both hands, you can load more weight, and that gives the T-bar an edge over dumbbell rows, too. The only catch is that many gyms don’t have a T-bar row station. See sidebar for how you can create your own.

If your gym doesn’t have a T-bar station, go old school like Ronnie Coleman (above) so you can get all the benefits of this bread-and-butter move.


  1. Place the end of an empty barbell into the corner of a room. Rest a heavy dumbbell or some weight plates on it to hold it down.
  2. Load the opposite end of the bar with plates and straddle it.
  3. Bend over at the hips until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor with arms extended. Hook a V-grip handle (the kind you see at a cable station) under the bar and hold with both hands. 


Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar until the plates touch your chest.


  • When to Do It
    • Early in your workout or paired with a chest exercise like the bench press
  • Where It Hits
    • Middle back, rear delts, traps
  • How Much to Do
    • Three to six sets of 5–10 reps