Pendlay, All Day
What Is The Pendlay Row?
The Pendlay row is a rarely seen yet super effective version of the barbell row.
Chances are you won’t find the pendlay row being recommended in bodybuilder magazines, but you will find it being prescribed to athletes by elite strength coaches.
The Pendlay row was named by Glenn Pendlay, an extremely successful olymic weightlifting coach.
The Pendlay row entails starting with the barbell on the ground like a deadlift before rowing the barbell while maintaining your back in an as horizontal as possible position. The Pendlay row, unlike the bent over row is to be performed with strict form and the barbell is to be ‘reset’ on the floor between repetitions, ensuring you’re not jerking or leaning back to use momentum to drive the weight up towards your torso.
Pendlay Row Benefits
The Pendlay row has a number of big benefits in terms of strength and safety… including:
Less stress on your lower back
As the bar is reset on the ground after each repetition there’s not the ongoing stress placed on the back during the traditional bent over row. Ongoing stress on the lower back, particularly when lifting heavy weight will lead to the rounding of your lower back… leaving you open to injury.
Reinforces strict form
The bent over row is performed with poor form more often than not. Using momentum to drive the weight up, jerking, standing almost completely upright to shorten the range of motion… the Pendlay row on the other hand requires and teaches strict form. The only way to get the barbell from the ground into the contracted position is to lock yourself into position and drive the barbell upward while maintaining a horizontal back. No swinging, no momentum, no bullshit.
Builds core strength
The downward force when moving heavy weight on the pendlay row will require and build immense core strength. You’ll notice the further horizontal you are the more core strength required to maintain your position.
Builds functional strength
Get strong on your pendlay row and you’ll find your deadlift and other functional exercises and movements increasing at the same time. You’ll find yourself starting off far lighter than you would normally lift on the traditional barbell row however you’re going to be gaining functional strength, not just manically swinging around a weight that’s far too heavy for you while placing your lower back in a compromised position.
Pendlay Row Vs. Bent Over Row Vs. Yates Row
The biggest difference between these three rows is the range of motion as a result of the positioning.
For a second let’s imagine that the pendlay row is a full range of motion bench press, all the way from the chest to extended, locked out arms at the top of the repetition. If the Pendlay row is a full range of motion bench press the bent over row is a half rep while the yates row is a a quarter range of motion style movement.
Yep. The bent over row and the yates row are a waste of time and are an ineffective alternative to the strength building, explosive Pendlay row.
Let’s compare the key points of these rows…
Range of motion
Pendlay – Full range from the floor to fully contracted at the chest
Bent Over – Half range of motion due to position of torso, not allowing full contraction
Yates – Smaller range of motion than the bent over row.
Pendlay – horizontal to floor
Bent Over – bent over, however nowhere near horizontal
Yates – Almost upright
Pendlay – strict, bar to touch ground to be ‘reset’ between repetitions. Torso to maintain horizontal position for duration of set.
Bent Over/Yates – Bar does not reset between reps, resulting in the use of momentum as back and grip strength begins to diminish between reps.
Pendlay – Builds explosive power and strength which transfer over to an increase in exercises such as the deadlift and snatch.
Bent Over/Yates – Used to achieve muscular hypertrophy, the limited range of motion results in nothing much in the functionality department.
Risk of injury
Pendlay – Low as the bar is being reset between repetitions to prevent excess stress on the lower back. The pendlay row is generally only performed in the single digit rep range as it’s an explosive power and strength oriented exercise.
Bent Over/Yates – Higher risk of injury than the Pendlay rows as the barbell is being held for the duration of the set which often leads to the use of momentum and a rounding lower back when performed too heavy or in an excessively high rep range.
How To Do Pendlay Rows
Stand with your mid-foot under the bar, medium stance.
Grip the barbell slightly wider than a regular bent over row.
Maintain a slight bend in your knees, however not too much as you’ll be blocking the path of the barbell.
Lift your chest up and straighten your back to assume a position as horizontal to the floor as possible.
Pull the bar towards the ceiling, squeeze as the bar reaches your lower chest.
Lower the barbell back down to the ground in a controlled manner, allowing it to come to a stop on the floor before proceeding with your next repetition.