The bent over row is a great exercise if you're interested in strengthening the muscles in your upper arm and shoulder. Be sure to start out slowly, having a friend evaluate your posture and technique. Once this exercise becomes too easy, you can add some variations to make it more difficult.
About the Bent Over Row
Before you actually perform the bent over row, it is important to understand what muscles are strengthened by this exercise, and why it's good for your health. The bent over row targets a number of muscles, specifically the shoulder, bicep and muscles in the upper back. This exercise helps to stabilize the shoulder, making it great for people who have recently had a shoulder injury or surgery. In addition, it adds definition to the upper arm.
Position Yourself for the Bent Over Row
Be sure to position yourself properly in order to achieve optimal results when performing the bent over row. To start, find a sturdy bench that comes to a height approximately halfway between your knee and hip. Place your right hand down firmly on the bench, and also rest the right knee on the bench. Plant your left foot firmly on the ground, and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. At this point, look in a mirror or have a friend come and evaluate your position. Ideally, your back should be flat, and you should be in a three-point stance with your hand, knee and foot all firmly in contact with a hard surface.
Perform the Bent Over Row
Take a few deep breaths, closing your eyes if this helps to calm your body. Look straight down at the floor. As you exhale, slowly lift your left elbow as high as you can. Keep this elbow tucked close into your body. Gently lower the arm back to the original position when you can no longer raise it any higher. Perform 10 repetitions of this exercise, take a short break and do another two sets of 10 repetitions before switching to the other arm.
Increasing the Intensity
As with many exercises, there are a number of ways to increase the intensity of the bent over row. One of the best ways is to change the surface of one of the contact points. As an example, instead of placing the right hand and knee on the same bench, try placing the right knee on a stability ball. You will now have your right hand on the bench, your right knee on a balance ball, your left foot on the floor and your left hand holding the dumbbell. The addition of the balance ball will force you to engage the muscles in your core, making this exercise much more challenging.