I'm quite a "lazy" bugger so I like doing compound movements to cut short my workout. Compound movements save time as it involves a few muscle groups working together simultaneously when you execute them. Since each compound movement involves multiple muscle groups, it definitely takes more effort to execute it. Examples of compound movements are deadlifts, barbell chest press, squats, bend over barbell rows etc.
Bend over barbell rows are great as you not only workout your back but also your forearms, biceps, traps, triceps, abs, thighs and hamstrings! It's also one of the best ways to add real power, real strength and mass to your back.
There are a few variants and all are great movements depending on which specific muscles groups you plan to target...
Variant #1 – Pronated Grip (Palms Down)
This is the most traditional row. Lift the barbell up safely and bend over so that your body is at about 45 degree angle. Thoroughly tighten your legs, gluts, lower back and keep your head in a neutral position. Pull the barbell towards your belly button and hold for a second before lowering it.
Barbell bend over row with the pronated grip is more demanding on your body, your grip strength, your forearms and your back because your biceps do not assist you much when you execute the barbell rows.
Variant #2 – Supinated Grip (Palms Up)
With this grip, you actually draw your elbows closer to your body. It gives you an advantage as you are able to bring your biceps more into play with this grip variant. With your biceps more involved and your elbows closer to your body, you will have more power and more strength to execute your bend over rows. Once again, pull the barbell towards your belly button and hold for a second before lowering it.
This could arguably be the best grip to begin with if you have never done a barbell bend over row before!
Variant #3 - Pronated Grip Pulling Higher Towards the Chest
A slightly different variant is to hold the barbell using the pronated grip and pull the barbell higher up towards your upper abs and just below your chest. This is significantly harder and you are likely to pull lighter weights.
This movement forces your elbow out wider so now you are hitting more of your upper back, your deltoids and your rhomboids. You tend not to workout your lower back much with this movement.