Yates Barbell Rows Vs. Regular Barbell Rows

Six times Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates is also  famous for popularizing the so-called Yates barbell rows which are nothing more than partial barbell rows with underhand grip and more upright torso. Beginners often wonder what’s better – the Yates barbell row or the classic version.

Our answer is: ‘stick to the classics’.

The Yates Barbell Rows Are An Ego Exercise


The Yates barbell rows are an ego exercise that allows you to lift a lot of weight because the range of motion (ROM) is reduced tremendously. This exercise is the equivalent to the partial bench press. This makes it incomplete.

The goal of exercising is not lift the most weight over the shortest ROM but rather to make the joints and muscles work full range. Proper execution hits more muscle fibers and is actually safer for the most part because you use less weight while achieving more stimulation.

The Yates Barbell Rows Can Tear You Biceps

The original Yates barbell rows were done with underhand grip (palms facing away). It worked nicely until Dorian tore his biceps. When you do Yates barbell rows with underhand grip there’s a lot of stress on the bicep tendon due to the supinated position and the large weight. Since the arms are generally a weak muscle group, the combination of larger stretch and load may be the reason for a biceps tear.

The Yates Barbell Rows Are Mechanically Inefficient

Due to the short ROM and the upright torso most of the stress is placed on the traps rather than the whole back as it is during regular barbell rows. The motion is usually jerky and it’s not uncommon to see lifters use this variation just to put more weight on the bar. From the sides it looks like the athlete is having sexual intercourse with the bar.

Highly recommended article:  How To Do Barbell Rows With Proper Form For Maximum Gains

Why are Yates barbell rows popular?

Yates barbell rows are popular because of Dorian’s insane back development. It may surprise you, but the fact that Dorian had good back does not mean his way is the best way for naturals. This is hard to explain to the uneducated and inexperienced crowd, but once you get a little deeper into the iron game, it will all make sense to you. Until then, stick to the classics and don’t do partial, jerky and inefficient movements like the Yates barbell rows.

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