Use multiple back exercises for lat development.
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If you are interested in toning, strengthening or bulking up your upper back, the barbell row is your ticket to success. There are multiple ways to improve your strength on the barbell row, such as directly training your lats, training secondary and stabilizer muscles, and improving your grip so you can actually lift the heavier weight. Preparing your body for the routine and training to directly benefit from the row is the quickest way to boost your strength.
Building Up Your Strength
The obvious method for increasing your barbell row strength is incorporating the row into your resistance-training program. For maximum strength gains, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends training multiple sets and exercises at a range of two to six repetitions. A good routine to get you started is two sets of barbell rows, two sets of lat pulldowns, and one set of cable rows. As you advance in training, try adding an extra set to each of these exercises.
Muscles Help Other Muscles
The barbell row primarily trains your latissimus dorsi, but also works the forearms, trapezius and rear deltoid. Adding exercises to focus on these muscle groups helps to strengthen the overall power of the back, which increases the barbell row. Use the NSCA strength guidelines from your upper back routine with exercises such as the upright row and shoulder shrug for the trapezius, rear delt raise for the shoulders and hammer curls for the forearms.
Don't Let It Go
If you have trouble holding onto your barbell during the row, you are going to need to strengthen your wrists and fingers. You cannot reach muscular overload and increase your strength on the barbell row if you can't hold onto the bar. To increase your wrist and forearm strength, add three sets of isometric holds to your routine four or five times per week. Simply stand with arms extended by your sides holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand for six seconds.
Wrists Setting You Back
While it can take time to strengthen your grip -- especially if your back is already developed -- consider these tips to give you an edge. The hook grip provides you with a better grasp on the bar and is the preferred method for heavy weights. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Instead of wrapping the thumb around the bar, slide your thumb between the bar and your middle and index fingers. Initially, the grip may cause some discomfort, but you'll become accustomed to it with regular training. A final method to try is using wrist straps to attach the bar to your wrist. While effective, straps do not require much work from the fingers, so your hands will not gain strength from the workouts.