The Differences Between Pendlay Rows & Barbell Rows


The Pendlay row is named after Glenn Pendlay, an Olympic weightlifting coach. The Pendlay version of the row is very similar to a standard barbell row, but there are some important differences. Your back is more horizontal during a Pendlay row and you set the weight down after each repetition.

Body Position

For the Pendlay and standard barbell row, stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a barbell in front of your thighs. During the Pendlay row, your back is parallel to the floor and your hips are at a 90-degree angle. Do not round your lower back. During a regular barbell row, your back is more upright. The angle varies, but the American Council on Exercise recommends positioning yourself in a 3/4-upright position. This places your back at a 45-degree angle to the floor.


You take a wider grip on the barbell for the Pendlay row. For a regular row, grab the bar just outside your knees. For the Pendlay row, your grip is wider than shoulder-width; however, the exact grip will vary for each lifter. Grip the bar at the appropriate place to keep your body in the proper alignment. Set your feet and position your back so it is parallel to the floor. Gab the bar at the place where your arms are fully extended, but your elbows are not completely locked out.


For the Pendlay row, pull the bar into your upper abs or lower chest. Reverse the movement and set the bar on the floor after each repetition. Perform the exercise quickly and explosively, but do not be sloppy. For a regular row, pull the barbell into your lower to middle abdomen area. Pause for a count, then slowly lower the bar until your arms are straight. Do not set the barbell on the floor until the end of the set. Perform the movement slowly and with control.


The Pendlay row and the regular barbell row target the back muscles. The latissimus dorsi, the large back muscles that run down each side of your spine, are the main movers. Bodybuilders and fitness-minded individuals use the regular barbell row to increase the strength, endurance or muscle size in their backs. Weightlifters use the Pendlay row to increase the strength and power of their back muscles.