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    Bent-over BB row - finishing sets with half-reps good or bad

    Hey everyone, I had a question in regards to the bent-over barbell row. Namely, I'm trying to do 4 sets of 8 - 12, and for a long time I'm stuck at a certain weight doing "12". The reason for the quotation marks is that I actually do at most 10 - 8 - 7 - 7 if I only count reps where the bar actually touches my abdomen. So the reason I haven't upped the weight is that I know that I'm not actually getting the full 12, and I always keep in mind how many full reps I do and try to progress on that. However, when I can't do any more full reps, I still aim to do 12 in total, and those last reps are then usually what you might call half-reps, where the bar comes above my knees to about mid- to high-thigh. I struggle with those as hard as I can, and always aim to go as high as I can, usually resulting in prolonged reps.

    So what I was wondering is whether I should stop doing that and instead use that same weight and try do 4 x 8 next workout. The reason I'm a bit apprehensive about that is that this is then going to be less work, as I do feel those half-reps in my back when doing them. So I think they are doing some good, but on the other hand it probably leaves me more drained in regards to my next set and how many full reps I can do. If I were to only go for full reps all the time, it would also be easier to track progress, since even though I now actually only count full reps, as well, I can't really tell how much the later sets are influenced by the previous ground out half-reps. As for those half-reps, I did ask a guy once to watch my form, especially on these last reps, and he said it doesn't look that bad and that with the last reps the form usually suffers anyway. Still, I know they aren't full reps and I'm not sure what to do about them.

    Any help here would much appreciated!
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    Half reps dont do much. If you can't do a full rep, just stop doing reps. Save that energy, and after resting do another set with full reps.
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    Reduce the weight or rep number and do full reps. It's a waste of energy like ^ said
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    Do cheat reps when you get to that point. Take a second or two inbetween those reps, and swing to the abdomen and contract. Thank me later.
    Also, put some food in yourself.
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    First of all, thanks for the responses, everyone. However, it sucks a bit that there seems to be disagreement on what to do ZoranM, are you saying to just keep doing what I'm doing then? I was kind of leaning towards what the other two guys suggested due to lack of progress, but could anyone perhaps offer some rationale behind their answers?
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    Originally Posted by EmperorRyker View Post
    ZoranM, are you saying to just keep doing what I'm doing then?
    When it comes to pure number of reps, yes. But instead of those "half" reps thigh high, do full reps, but cheat to do it, swing, use momentum and touch your abdomen. Hell, go over 12 reps.

    Some of the free weight rows, like a BB row(and esp. DB row), are actually perfect for cheating towards the end of a set(maybe even all the time in fact), meaning that cheating can yield great results, meaning you can really grow while others would think your form is terrible.

    And don't get stuck in a rep counting machine. Rep more here or there isn't so important. Increasing working weights over a prolonged period of time is what really counts.
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    Sounds like you're challenged at the top half of the movement. At that point, different muscles take over, so those ones are clearly weak in your case. Probably include rear delts, biceps, and various other assisting smaller muscles. You can progress to heavier weights, but those muscles will remain neglected. Consider accessory work, particularly rows with the elbow perpendicular to your body, emphasizing the rear delts and other assisting muscles.

    At the same time, 12 reps is a lot to shoot for - are you following Allpro's program or something? If you want to increase strength, shoot for lower reps, max of 7 or so. When hip/momentum movement becomes obvious, stay at that weight until it is no more.
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    Originally Posted by ZoranM View Post
    When it comes to pure number of reps, yes. But instead of those "half" reps thigh high, do full reps, but cheat to do it, swing, use momentum and touch your abdomen. Hell, go over 12 reps.

    Some of the free weight rows, like a BB row(and esp. DB row), are actually perfect for cheating towards the end of a set(maybe even all the time in fact), meaning that cheating can yield great results, meaning you can really grow while others would think your form is terrible.

    And don't get stuck in a rep counting machine. Rep more here or there isn't so important. Increasing working weights over a prolonged period of time is what really counts.
    So cheat hip swings and high reps? Seriously think that'll make the guy grow? Elaborate please...
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    Originally Posted by poloralphloren View Post
    So cheat hip swings and high reps? Seriously think that'll make the guy grow? Elaborate please...
    5'11", 141 lbs
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    Originally Posted by ZoranM View Post
    5'11", 141 lbs
    6'0", 171 lbs
    5'9", 145 lbs
    5'10", 168 lbs


    5'11", 232 lbs
    touche'. you are correct that cheat reps can be useful though, and they don't really even require sacrificing form for BB rows
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    Originally Posted by ZoranM View Post
    5'11", 141 lbs
    6'0", 171 lbs
    5'9", 145 lbs
    5'10", 168 lbs


    5'11", 232 lbs
    So you credit your lean mass gain to the cheat rows? Sounds super scientific :P

    Seriously though, I don't see how hitting a number of muscles lightly (as in hip movements and high reps) would improve hypertrophy *or* strength as much as hitting the target muscles carefully with a weight that can be controlled. On the other hand, I've heard that explosive movements are best for strength, so maybe that makes sense. Curious to hear what other serious lifters think on this topic?
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    Originally Posted by poloralphloren View Post
    So you credit your lean mass gain to the cheat rows? Sounds super scientific :P

    Seriously though, I don't see how hitting a number of muscles lightly (as in hip movements and high reps) would improve hypertrophy *or* strength as much as hitting the target muscles carefully with a weight that can be controlled. On the other hand, I've heard that explosive movements are best for strength, so maybe that makes sense. Curious to hear what other serious lifters think on this topic?
    I usually pause briefly at the top of the movement and hold the contraction for BB rows whether I am cheating or not. I train for hypertrophy but try to maintain a strength progression with the major compound exercises.
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    Originally Posted by poloralphloren View Post
    So you credit your lean mass gain to the cheat rows? Sounds super scientific :P
    It was a bit of a joke, but has a lot of true to it: usually, those who preach perfect form and everything by the book never reach anything above average. Think outside of the ''rules''. It is a whole different subject, but, with years of experience come the form adjustments, possible in many different ways-of which many can be caracterized by others as cheating. Meaning, something may work on you, but not on me.

    With a row, there's pretty much one real way of cheating. I don't wanna get into science, or opinions why free weight rows work like that, but they do. I am not really advocating cheating all the time, but only good things may come form cheating AFTER you are done with normal reps. Feeling the targeted muscle may be hard, you will find guys on stage that say I can't feel what I wanna feel with a DB row but I still religiously do them. It works. So, when you're done feeling it, cheat. And when it comes to adding mass, for the absolute majority that rep range is unbeatable. Maybe it's juuust a bit to high for a BB row, but it can't be bad.
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    I am a fan of partials and cheat reps when I cant get any more full reps on a certain exercise. You gotta force your body to break these plataues.

    What also works for me on things where I have a goal of like 3x12 is to have a 4th "punishment set" where if I dont get the 3x12 I have to do one more set as punishment. Give me just a little mental boost to really push it.
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    Originally Posted by ZoranM View Post
    When it comes to pure number of reps, yes. But instead of those "half" reps thigh high, do full reps, but cheat to do it, swing, use momentum and touch your abdomen. Hell, go over 12 reps.
    I agree with this. Instead of half reps, do cheat reps. Focus really hard on the negative on those cheated reps. You'll get a lot of work out of those last few negatives.
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    Something I'd like to add in that was already stated I believe..but try and take yourself out of counting reps....your kinda mentally telling yourself when it's quitting time....specially that final set
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    Thanks again, everyone. So from what I gather, half reps are no good, right? I think I'll try 4x8 with the same weight today, and then on my last set I'll experiment with these cheat reps you were describing. Then, IF I can do 4x8 cleanly without cheating, I'm going to 4x9 my next workout (that's my progression scheme on reps, 8 to 12 and only after 12 increase the weight and start from 8 again), but if I can only do 4x8 with some cheat reps involved in those 8 reps, I won't go up in reps until I can actually do all of those cleanly. Does that sound good? Or should I cheat on earlier sets, as well? I'm worried this might then hamstring me in terms of clean reps in later sets.

    Oh, and one more thing. My stance when doing the exercise is pretty wide, definitely more than shoulder width. Shoulder width namely feels very uncomfortable, and I can't bend as much and I always hit my knees with the bar. Is that bad or is it alright as long as I focus on how my upper body is positioned (i.e. straight back and all that)? I've asked a couple of guys to comment on my form already, and no one ever mentioned my stance, so I'm not sure whether they've overlooked it or thought it was fine.
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    Originally Posted by poloralphloren View Post
    At the same time, 12 reps is a lot to shoot for - are you following Allpro's program or something? If you want to increase strength, shoot for lower reps, max of 7 or so. When hip/momentum movement becomes obvious, stay at that weight until it is no more.
    No, I'm not following Allpro's program, but I guess mine is quite similar. I shoot for, say, 4x8-12 on all my exercises (well, the number of sets varies between exercises, 4 is an example), and I go for the same amount of reps in all my sets. If I can do that, then next workout I increase the number of reps in each set, and once the number of reps hits 12 and I can do all sets with as many reps, I increase the weight next workout, keeping the same number of sets, but starting with 8 reps per each one.

    Originally Posted by powrfrk View Post
    Something I'd like to add in that was already stated I believe..but try and take yourself out of counting reps....your kinda mentally telling yourself when it's quitting time....specially that final set
    I guess in a way that could be true, but on the other hand, it has me working at least until I hit those reps, whereas otherwise I might have given up earlier.
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    Originally Posted by ZoranM View Post
    5'11", 232 lbs
    Isn't

    more important than stating weight?
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    OK, so I ended up doing 4x8 of what I think were good reps (well, I added another set of 8), and next time I'm shooting for 4x9. So do you think this is a good way to proceed or should I add cheat reps anyway to get the volume up? If so, only on the last set to go to failure or on all of them?
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    Originally Posted by Pakina View Post
    Isn't

    more important than stating weight?
    Can I has back?
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    Originally Posted by poloralphloren View Post
    So you credit your lean mass gain to the cheat rows? Sounds super scientific :P

    Seriously though, I don't see how hitting a number of muscles lightly (as in hip movements and high reps) would improve hypertrophy *or* strength as much as hitting the target muscles carefully with a weight that can be controlled. On the other hand, I've heard that explosive movements are best for strength, so maybe that makes sense. Curious to hear what other serious lifters think on this topic?
    i think of it this way. when you "cheat" (use momentum), youre only cheating on the way up. its like doing negatives but it still has at least some concentric work
    GSF
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