Ed Coan Bent Over Barbell Rows Video

There has been a bit of talk about the “correct” way to do barbell rows.

For example read Paul Carter’s recent posts about Pendlay Rows. He performs them with 100kg using excellent form.

Now, I am not saying that doing very strict form is not something we should strive for, but as you can see in the video below, even the great Ed Coan did what everybody today would consider “cheat” reps (with 184kg /405lbs).

This clip is from the “Extreme Powerlifting DVD Set“. It’s a fun watch, I suggest buying it.

In the video Ed mentions that Bent Over Barbell Rows are probably his favorite assistance exercise for Bench Press and Deadlift (next to a Pull Down or a Chin Up).

He says:

  • He likes to do them from a 3inch deficit
  • a medium to wide grip
  • Pull it very low into your abdomen, you don’t want to pull it up high into your chest
  • try not to let it touch the ground all the time
  • when ou come up to the top squeeze your back together
  • he likes to keep his knees slightly bent (for stability and safety)

Both forms can have their place in training as they are almost different exercises.

I would go as far as saying that a bit of momentum from the start is tolerable, even on Pendlay Rows. As long as you finish the movement without doing the overly jerky motion at the top, when max contraction occurs.

TL;DR: Strict form is awesome. Should body English creep in, so be it.

Update: Paul asked Ed about the rows and here is what he said:

A little of both. I always felt that if I did them too strict, I only felt it in my arms from pulling with them too much. I pictured them like a rower in a boat. The movement stretches more and is a little safer. It worked for me!! Hope this answers your question. Take care, Eddy

There you have it, just as I said above, both can have their place in training.

Update: Andrey Malanichev does his Bent Over Rows the same way.

  • Adam

    As far as I’m concerned, doing a barbell row in the manner that Ed is doing it here, makes it more of a deadlift assistance movement. Doing them very strict with a hard contraction at the top would be more of a bench assistance movement. Where the barbell hits, the body angle, the force production, etc all change the emphasis of the lift. The bar path here travels close to his legs and hits him in the lower ab region vs a strict pendlay row which would travel away from the body and hit in the upper ab/sternum area. Different muscle activation and different goals as far as muscle contraction and control of the weight vs explosiveness and overloading the CNS.

    I think they are both valuable tools and see it like the difference between Kroc rows and strict dumbbell rows. In general, trainees should be doing more rows, with more variety at different intensities in their training. Doing one type of row with one type of intensity doesn’t cut it. Nice vid, thanks.

    • GregorATG

      Good points Adam.

  • steven

    I’ve been doing chinese rows for quite a while now. Just because of the strictness of them and because
    it’s ,beside pendlay rows, the only row where i really feel contraction in my back.

  • Bill March

    Ed’s a strong guy and knew what worked for him. I think it’s still a good case in point to show that slightly cheated rows will work real well, and there’s no way to move to an extreme. I like Paul, and one of the major reasons is that he has a pretty open mind and usually just tells guys to try shit out. He seemed pretty dogmatic on the whole row issue, though. Maybe it was just his lack of carbs, I know that’d make a cranky motherfucker as well.