The dead row, like the deadlift, begins with the bar dead on the floor. It strengthens the whole back, balances the bench press and overhead press, and helps keep the shoulders and elbows healthy.
Primary Purpose: Strengthen the posterior deltoids (shoulders), middle-to-lower trapezius and rhomboids (upper back), and latissimus dorsi (outer back).
Additional Purposes: Holding the bar and leading with the elbows strengthens the biceps (front of arm) and forearms. Maintaining posture strengthens the spinal erectors (lower back) and core muscles. The lower back is further supported by the glutes (bum) and hamstrings (back of thigh). Dead rows balance out presses, preventing muscle imbalances and protecting joint health.
- Set bar height so that the whole movement can be performed with the spine in firm extension (this may require a bolster under the bar, such as blocks).
- Stand behind the bar, feet close together, toes turned in slightly.
- Hinge at the hips, pushing them back, and reach down to wrap your fingers around the bar outside shoulder-width apart.
- Push your hips and knees back until your hamstrings are tight.
- Squeeze your chest up and take a deep breath at the start of each rep.
- Push your knees out to activate your glutes (this is reinforced by having toes turned in slightly, and will support your lower back).
- Leading with your elbows, drive the bar into your upper abs.
- Squeeze your scapulae (shoulder blades) together as you reach the top.
- Lower the weight back to the floor.