How To Perform The Pendlay Row In 3 Easy Steps

Rate this post

Do you want to increase lower back strength and muscles? If so, then you need to do the stricter version of barbell bent over row, which is the pendlay row. This strength exercise works your lats primarily but also targets your forearms, biceps, traps, shoulders, and lower back. You’re also going to use your hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors.

This strength exercise is quickly gaining popularity because it’s effective and difficult to cheat. You will also need a few equipment: a barbell and some nice pendlay weights. If you’re ready, then let’s get started.

What Is A Pendlay Row?

Pendlay rows begin with the bar on the floor. This is different from the Barbell Row where you keep the bar in the air between reps. Your torso doesn’t arch 45 degrees either. It maintains parallel with the floor. This makes this exercise a more explosive exercise as it works your back muscles harder than any barbell row exercise.

This strength exercise has been around for awhile and has been used by prominent celebrities, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You should be doing the same. I’ll get into the proper form and techniques in a minute, but the fundamental concept is to explode on your way up and lower the bar slowly in a controlled manner.

Benefits And Goals

Pendlay rows are often done following the main power and strength lifts. This is to further isolate the spinal erectors, lats, and pattern similar to pulling exercises. Identifying the intended training result of this exercise will dictate the order in which you may do it in a training session.

In weightlifting, the main goal of this exercise is to develop lats and lower back strength. Increasing the hips and back isolation enables lifters to apply more stress to promote muscular hypertrophy under a full range of motion.

In powerlifting, this exercise allows for more specific training of the hips and back- both play a vital role in deadlifting. Powerlifters can work to enhance the stabilization of their lumbar and spine in the bent position. This will aid in the development of a stronger deadlift.

How To Perform The Pendlay Row In 3 Easy Steps

In CrossFit training, isolated exercises aren’t often seen in functional fitness WODs. They can be indeed beneficial if they’re incorporated into one’s program. The increased focus on lats, hips, and lower back development may prevent injuries and enhance the barbell lifts.

What You’ll Need

  • Pendlay Barbell

The barbell is the main equipment that you’ll need for pendlay row exercises. Commonly, a barbell consists a 25 mm diameter shaft for women and 28-29 for men. Barbells may come in various shapes and sizes, but the standard length is 6.5 ft for women and 7.2 ft for men. The weight is around 15 kg for women and 20 kg for men.

When buying the right bar, consider these features:

  • checkWhip: This is a term referring to the end of the bar bouncing at the end of each rep. The material and thickness of the plates can affect the whip. 
  • checkSleeves: They help identify the amount of spin the bar will have. Spin will be allowed through bearings or bushings. Bearings are often used in high-end Olympic bars for a quieter while bushings are used in powerlifting bars for longevity.
  • checkStrength: The strength of the barbell can be measured by the yield and tensile strengths. A good minimum to look for is 165,000 PSI. Anything above 180,000 PSI is a decent one.
  • checkFinish: Though pricey, stainless steel provides a natural feel and protects the barbell from rust.
  • checkKnurling: This may come down to preference. If you have smaller hands, you may use a powerlifting bar for more aggressive knurling to assist with grip. If you have bigger hands, choose whichever you feel the most comfortable.
  • Pendlay Bumper Plates

The bumper plates will put weight on the bar. They’re made of thick, hard rubber for the purpose of enabling a loaded bar to be safely dropped on the floor. The ideal weight for pendlay row is 45 pounds otherwise, you’ll bend way too much.

When buying a set of bumper plates, you want to ensure that they will deliver great training sessions for a very long time. Look for dead-bounce bumper plates if you want very little to no bounce at all. This is important because they can prevent your barbell collars and center rings from getting loose.

You want to look for a bumper plate that has properly flanged center rings and a production process that sets the rings right. In terms of thickness, you want a bumper plate that’s heavy with the least amount of surface area. This is to give room for your hands on the bar.

  • Pre-Workout Supplement

Now, you need to exert an explosive strength when doing the pendlay row. To sustain throughout the set, you might need to take a pre-workout supplement before working on the barbell. This supplement will provide you the necessary strength and power to perform the exercise actively.

When buying for the best pre-workout supplement, look for natural stimulants, such as caffeine, vitamin B12, and amino acids. Look for transparency of ingredient list so you’ll know how much you are taking. You may also try on brands that offer a money -back guarantee for a risk-free purchase.

Even if the taste is a trivial aspect, nothing beats a good-tasting supplement before each workout. This can encourage you to drink the supplement diligently. Also, research for some user testimonials online. You can get a good grasp of the product from their honest reviews.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Get To Starting Position

How To Perform The Pendlay Row In 3 Easy Steps

Approach the barbell (loaded with bumper plates) with your feet about shoulder-width apart. The bar should be slightly further out in front of you or over the middle of your feet. You don’t want the bar up against your shins because this isn’t a deadlift.

Once your feet are set, keep your knees slightly bent and push your hips back. Your back should be straight, not hunched over. This will eliminate the strain on the lower back. The idea here is to tighten your lower back to maintain a neutral spine.

Now, grab the bar with a wide grip just outside of shoulder-width. You want your grip to be comfortable as possible. Simulate a conventional deadlift or the end position of a Romanian deadlift.

2. Execute

How To Perform The Pendlay Row In 3 Easy Steps

Once everything is nice and tight, your torso parallels to the floor, hamstrings tight, and back flat, hold the barbell up so that it touches your body close to your sternum. When you pull, you want to bring your elbows nice and high. Do this in an explosive manner.

As soon as you pull the barbell close to your sternum, lower it down in a controlled manner. You don’t just drop the bar to the ground. This is one rep.

3. Repeat As Necessary

Repeat. Rest the weights on the floor and quickly reset (while holding the barbell) before completing the next rep. Do the pendlay row in 6-10 reps per set. As with other power type exercises, every rep should be completed explosively.

If you want to work up as high as ten reps, do multiple sets with a lighter weight. A great idea would be to perform these in 5×5 style. That way, you’ll do some heavy weight and take full benefit of the way this exercise can build your strength.

Pro Tips

  • When doing the pendlay row, avoid moving your hips or knees to cheat. Instead, focus on squeezing your shoulders back as you perform the movement.
  • Loosen up your grip by just a bit before you re-tighten it again for the next rep.
  • If you want an advanced version of the pendlay row, row from an elevated position so the bar touches your toes. This will enhance the stretching of the muscle fibers.
  • Never lock your elbows when pulling the barbell because your bicep muscles will take the strain of the first pull of the movement.
  • Chin up and keep your eyes slightly up or directed to the ground.
  • The key here is to pull with your elbows


Regardless of your sport or goals, the pendlay row is a reliable exercise to increase lower back strength and build muscles. If you’re struggling, never cheat. Force yourself to remain in position because it’s only in this way you’ll get maximum benefits.

Tell us how the pendlay row exercise works for you in the comment section. You can ask more questions about the exercise. Please share this article if you find this helpful.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.