Move of the Week: Trap-bar Pendlay Row

We’re getting our first taste of snow this week. We’re also getting another edition of Move of the Week. Here it is! 

THE MOVE: Trap-bar Pendlay Row

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal pull: back, lats, posterior chain.

WHY DO IT: You can do more than just deadlifts with a trap-bar. We’ve written before about the trap-bar deadlift here, and love how it allows most people to learn how to hinge safely and effectively. The trap-bar makes it easier for those with mobility restrictions to keep a neutral spine, and it also distributes the weight centrally over the body.

Along those lines, rowing with the trap-bar also has the same benefits over a barbell. As far as the Pendlay Row is concerned, the bar starts and stops at the floor for every single rep. Unlike a normal barbell row in which an isometric hold of neutral spine is necessary, this “rule of the floor” gives the back a break, allowing you to focus on explosiveness and technique in every rep.

The trap-bar further enhances these features. The higher handles makes for a shorter range of motion that allows you to load up the bar with more weight. Secondly, the neutral-grip makes it easier to drive the elbows back and engage the lats. In other words–the trap-bar forces you do rows the right way, and with more weight. Talk about bang for your buck.

Finally, the Trap-bar Pendlay Row is also a great way to cement the hinge pattern and work the posterior chain. At the start, it looks just like a deadlift would, and the set-up is the same up until a certain point. Learning the proper start position will benefit in deadlifts as well as rows.

HOW TO DO IT: For this exercise, a good baseline is to use standard bumper plates. From the get-go, set up just as you would for a trap-bar deadlift. Start by stepping into the trap-bar and setting up in the center of the bar. Take a neutral stance with your feet–stack your hip sockets over you knees, and your knees over your feet. Sit back into a hip hinge by pushing your butt back and keeping your shins as straight as possible. You should feel your hamstrings and glutes turn on, and your spine should be neutral.When compared to setting up for the deadlift, you’ll find that it is better to set up with your hips higher for the Pendlay row.

Grab the handles on the bar, and build tension and tightness in this position by bracing your abs and squeezing the handles hard. Think about how you would set up for a very heavy deadlift; this is the kind of tension you want.

Instead of standing up with the bar, perform a row by driving your elbows back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. You want to pull hard and fast to build explosiveness. Let the bar descend all the way back to the floor and pause slightly. Throughout the set, make sure to build tension in your body before every rep.

As you can see in the demonstration above, Dan uses a little momentum to finish off each rep. This is perfectly fine, as long as you’ve earned the right to do so. Remember that once you’re proficient, today’s move is meant to be relatively heavy, and the extra momentum should help.

We like this exercise in the middle of a training session, it works great for 4 sets of 8-10 reps. There’s an explosive component to this exercise, so it’s best to take advantage of this when the body is still fresh. Try this out if you’re looking for a great way to build back strength and awesomeness. Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau Halevy Life Staff CoachJeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.