Movements We Love: The Pendlay Row

This Cycle: Pendlay Rows on Wednesdays

The Pendlay row, named after its founder Glenn Pendlay, is one of our favorite movements in the gym to develop our second category of strength: explosive strength, as well as build muscle in the upper body. Before we get into the benefits, a quick visual can help illustrate the difference between a Pendlay row and a “regular” barbell row.

Pendlay Row

Barbell Row

As you can see in the video illustrations above, the Pendlay row is an explosive movement based on fast contractions and the barbell row is a slower, more steady and connected movement. Both are excellent movements we use in abundance, it’s just a matter of different training outcomes.

In the Pendlay, it’s all about generating as much power on the “concentric” portion of the movement, the part where we do the lifting. There is no thought given to the “eccentric” portion, the part where we lower the weight. Because we are so concentric focused we can really overload the weight and focus on that power. In many lifts, the limiting factor is the need to control the weight back to its starting position because you burn a huge amount of stored muscular energy doing so. Not the Pendlay.

The Pendlay only cares about concentric power. Fast contractions, more type-ii muscle fibers and a very effective way to train one of our four primary strength classifications without some of the risks that other power-based barbell movements naturally carry.

Like any form of bent over rowing, we are also getting the benefits of training the hamstrings and the glutes, which will both fire isometrically as soon as you pull the barbell off of the floor and help to stabilize you as you complete the lift.

Pound for pound, the Pendlay row is one of the better upper body movements we can perform, and can be performed by any level of fitness with some basic body awareness.