The humble row (also known as the bent-over row) is an effective back exercise that can be performed with a variety of equipment. The simple movement targets the upper back muscles including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. Regularly incorporating this workout into your routine promotes improved posture, greater upper body strength, and better core stability. This helps prevent rounded shoulders and postural imbalances that can lead to lower back pain and injuries.
The rowing movement also helps strengthen the muscles responsible for shoulder stability and mobility, preventing rounded shoulders and excessive internal rotation. Humble rows are particularly beneficial for strengthening the rear deltoids and traps, allowing you to add thickness and depth to your shoulders when coupled with heavy shrugs.
Although humble rows do target the lats, they don’t activate them as much as other back exercises like incline dumbbell rows or face pulls. This is because, with the chest supported on the bench, the elbows are positioned at a 45 to 90 degree angle. This allows for the targeted isolation of the back muscles without unnecessary strain.
Despite limiting the activation of the lats, humble rows still provide an effective stimulus for muscle growth by providing enough tension to the biceps and back muscles to trigger positive hypertrophy. This is due to the principle of SFR (stimulus to fatigue ratio) whereby an exercise provides a high amount of muscle stimulation with minimal strain on the joints and muscles.