If you’re serious about developing max strength or getting a V-tapered, then you need to row to grow. The T-Bar row and the barbell row are often the top two contenders for the big ones pull the barbell a place in most lifting programs. But which one do you choose?

You will often see strength athletes and bodybuilders alike pulling a lot of plates and this helps build strength, muscle mass, and attractiveness. his cousin, barbell row, a little more complex and train the lower and upper back While the two moves are similar, slight differences in stability, setup, and technique may make you prefer one over the other.

man working through a series of barbell rows
Credit: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

The T-Bar line, although the setup is more complicated, the angle and stability of the landmines is easier lower back and this usually allows you to use more weight. The barbell row requires more lower back and hamstring activation to hold the hinge in position, but with less stability, so less resistance is used.

Depending on your goals, a T-Bar row or barbell might work better for you. It’s up to you and your preferences. But with a little guidance below, you can determine when is the best time to pull using the T-Bar setting or barbell row. Let’s dive in.

Difference Between T-Bar Row and Barbell Row

First things first — the T-Bar row and the barbell row can both be pulled horizontally by the lifter looks pretty heavy. But that doesn’t make them the same. Here are some of the main differences between the two.

Range of Motion and Trunk Path

The big difference between a T-Bar row and a barbell row is the range of motion and bar path. T-Bar with landmine setup is why you can usually lift more weight.

Plus, because your body is lower to the ground with more knee bends, you reduce your range of motion (ROM). Not so with the barbell row, which is more of a stiff-legged hip hinge.

Trained Muscles

Since the trunk line is fixed from the T-Bar line, there is less demand for your core and posture stability which puts more focus on your upper back. The shorter range of motion and close grip let the lats out slightly and work the upper back more.

This is why the T-Bar row contributes to a thicker back. The wider grip often used in the barbell row gives you lat More love. The barbell row also gives you less stability and requires more core and postural control and lower back engagement to support the hip hinges.


The T-Bar row is a landmine drill that requires landmine attachment or a barbell pinched in the corner with a towel or tennis ball. Also, you’ll need a V grip or a towel so you can paddle with both hands in a neutral grip.

For the barbell row, you only need a barbell and some weights. Both lifts start with a device placed on the floor, requiring you to hinge down and lift it up.

Similarities Between T-Bar and Barbell Row

T-Bar row and barbell row may not look the same and have very different settings, however, they also have some things in common.

Movement Pattern

The special mechanism of the barbell row and the T-Bar row is different due to the arrangement, but overall movement pattern is the same. Both the T-Bar row and the barbell row are horizontal pulls that work your upper back, lats, forearms, and biceps.. So you will be build your tensile strength with both lifts.

Both Build Posterior Chain

The T-Bar row and the barbell row focus on different muscles, but they both work out anyway your posterior chain. Although the barbell row is possible back to work and the hamstrings are harder, in comparison, the T-bar row still uses your hamstring and lower back to some extent.

Depending on your grip, the barbell row works your lats harder than the T-Bar row, but the lats still play a role in this lift. Both lifts need a lot grip strength to keep the bar securely in your hand.

T-Bar vs. Row Technique Barbell Row

Although the technique for the T-Bar row and the barbell row is similar in that they are both horizontal pulls, there are still some differences.

Lower Back vs. Upper Back

The T-Bar row, angle, and bar placement make it easier to get into position and reduce pressure on your lower back. If you want to paddle hard and heavy but your lower back says watch out, the T-Bar row will be your go-to.

This is not as pronounced with a barbell row. With anterior load and being at a hip hinge position with less stability, the lower back is more involved. The barbell row places more compressive force on the spine and requires more spinal stiffness than other row variations.

Plus, the barbell row has more engagement from the lower and upper back compared to the T-Bar row. (1)

How to Do a T-Bar Row

  • Standing on the bar with a wide stance and hinge down to a bent row position.
  • Lower your shoulders, chest up, and spine in a neutral position.
  • Your feet should be positioned about eight to 12 inches behind the plate.
  • Grab the T-bar with both hands with your arms outstretched and pull the handle toward your upper stomach.
  • Pause for a moment and slowly lower to the starting position.

How to Do a Barbell Row

  • Hinges on your hips and take the loaded barbell with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the barbell until it touches your stomach.
  • You want your elbows to tilt about 45 degrees throughout the movement.
  • Hold the top position of the row for one beat and then slowly lower it back down.
  • Reset and repeat.

When to Do a T-Bar vs. Row Barbell Row

Both of these lifts deserve a place in your strength program, no doubt. But if you’re trying to figure out which one you should do to match your health and fitness goals, follow the suggestions below.

For Strength

When it comes to absolute loading potential, you’ll be moving more weight with a T-Bar row than with a barbell row most of the time. If you want build upper back strengthT-Bar row must be your choice. As the ability to use more weight and neutral grip becomes your strongest grip, it will be what you do when building absolute strength.

Barbell rows can play a role in building more total body strength. Because of the equal involvement of your upper and lower back, it also has a place as an accessory deadlift exercise to strengthen your lower back for a stronger, safer pull.

You can also target hamstrings more specifically, to strengthen the position of your hinges at the bottom of the deadlift barbell.

For Hypertrophy

When you search add some thickness and depth to your upper back, the T-Bar row is probably your best bet of the two. The tight grip and reduced ROM put more emphasis on your upper back. But if you want to build your V-taper and core strength, then opt for the barbell row.

man in stringer tank doing t-bar row set with wide grip
Credit: martvisionlk / Shutterstock

That said, both are great options for muscle growth because their muscles work together hard and heavy. But with a T-Bar row that’s easier on the lower back and more stable due to the landmine setting, you may find it easier to recover from session focused on hypertrophy.

For Bodybuilders

Bodybuilder would probably benefit more from T-Bar than barbell rows. Lifter maybe can recover faster from the T-Bar row due to the lack of compressive force in the lower back. While the barbell row is still a great exercise, it can be difficult for the lower back and can affect recovery, especially if you train lower body the day after tomorrow.

For beginners

Before even trying the barbell row, you need to be good at hip hinge with weights. Whether it’s a deadlift, a Romanian deadlift, or a kettlebell swing, learning the hip hinge with weights takes time and effort.

For beginnersstarting with a T-Bar row might be a better choice. The reduced range of motion improves stability and reduces stress on the lower back meaning the lifter will build confidence with hip hinges and a heavy horizontal row pattern. When novice lifters are comfortable with the T-Bar row, they can move on to more advanced barbell rows.

T-Bar Row or Barbell Row — Who Wins?

Both are good exercises and if your lower back is healthy, both can have a place in your program. When you want to improve your numbers or deadlift technique, the barbell row should be your go-to. Spending more time in the hinge position will strengthen your lower backneeded to be more secure and stronger pull.

On the other hand, bodybuilders or those suffering from low back pain possible do better with the T-Bar row. Comfort and less strength in your spine will allow you to row harder, longer, and as a result, your back grows.

Ultimately, which workout you choose depends on your unique needs in the gym. It’s too difficult a task to declare one exercise superior to another—as with everything in fitness, the devil is in the details.


1. Fenwick, CMJ, Brown, SHM, & McGill, SM (2009). Comparison of Different Rowing Exercises: Trunk Muscle Activation and Lumbar Spinal Movement, Load, and Stiffness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(2), 350–358.

Featured Image: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

By Blanca

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