Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredMachine
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Biceps, Lats, Shoulders
Target Muscle Group

Upper Back

Upper Back Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Machine T-Bar Row Overview

The machine t-bar row is a variation of the bent over row and an exercise used to build back muscle and strength.

The back is a muscle group that requires a fair amount of variation. So, experiment with several different angles and hand positions to maximize your back muscle growth.

Rows are a foundational movement pattern and are very important to train for balanced muscle growth and strength. So, experiment until you find a rowing variation that you enjoy and work on it.

The machine t-bar row can be performed during your back workouts, upper body workouts, pull workouts, and full body workouts.

Machine T-Bar Row Instructions

  1. Lie prone on the pad of a T-Bar machine and grasp the handle with a neutral or pronated grip depending upon preference or programming.
  2. Begin the movement by driving the elbows behind the body while retracting the shoulder blades.
  3. Pull the weight towards your body until the elbows are at (or just past) the midline and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position under control.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Machine T-Bar Row Tips

  1. Experiment with head position and see which option (looking forward vs. packing the neck) works better for you.
  2. Keep some tone through your abdominals as you pull the bar into your body to ensure you don’t arch excessively through your spine.
  3. Don’t allow momentum to dictate the movement, control the dumbbells throughout the entirety of each rep.
  4. If you feel your biceps being overused and your back remaining under active, consider utilizing a false grip (i.e. don’t wrap the thumb around the dumbbell).
  5. As you pull the weight towards your body, don’t hyperextend the thoracic spine by pulling your entire upper torso off the bench. You can extend slightly but don’t make it too drastic.
  6. Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
  7. Similarly, ensure the shoulder blade moves on the rib cage. Don’t lock the shoulder blade down and just move through the glenohumeral joint.
Posted on: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 01:07

Hi guys, my gym has the T-Bar Row machine but it doesn't have a chest support. So by the end of it, my back is killing me. What could I do as an alternative or try and keep the weight off my back?
Thanks guys!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:33

Try out a dumbbell row (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/one-arm-dumbbell-row.html) with your knee and ipsilateral hand supported on a bench, this will help to reduce some of the pressure felt within your lumbar spine.

Posted on: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 21:24

What's a good replacement exercise for T-Bar Row? I don't think my gym has that.

Dennis Habern
Posted on: Sun, 03/12/2017 - 12:57

If your gym does not maintain a T-bar machine, then you must jury-rig. Simply use a lenthy, straight bar and
and anchor it with at least a 20 kilo weight in the rear, then up front, attach the number of 20 kilo weights, up
from, then use a V-Bar next the frontal plates and lift, using a belt. Should solve your immediate problem. It
solved mine. We do not maintain a T-Bar machine.

Crystal Fritts
Posted on: Mon, 04/16/2012 - 22:27

How would I do this exercise if I down have a T-bar. My gym doesn't have one of those. Thanks!

Posted on: Mon, 08/13/2012 - 05:24

Hi Crystal I do the following. I use an Olympic Barbell at the squat rack or corner of a wall where you can push the non weighted side of the bar into the corner. Then load up the the end facing away from the squat rack/wall corner. You need too get a close grip pull down bar and wrap it around the bottom of the barbell. If you do not have the bar use an alternating grip on the barbelln bar itself. Try to get as close too the plates as possible when you hold the weighted end. Then all that is left to do is to row. Sorry if my english is shoddy (I think in Afrikaans)