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  1. #1
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    How strong should your row be relative to your bench?

    It is common for presses to get an undue amount of attention in many training regimens. My own anecdotal reference and some casual reading seem to contend that there is a positive correlation between rowing strength and pressing potential.

    While horizontal pulls and presses are both integral movement patterns, even as mirrored motions, they're still not using equivalent muscles or even the same joint mechanics, making a direct comparison beyond that somewhat elusive. I want to say a good rule of thumb would be equal rows and benches, but that seems to be a cursory conclusion and I'm curious what kind of well-researched arguments for a particular ratio there are.

    In my own case, like many, I bench with much greater frequency and intensity between the two, so the curt answer is simply to row more regardless, but beyond that I'd like to know what everyone's thoughts are.
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    Formerly grouchyjarhead GrouchyUSMC's Avatar
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    I've heard your row should be within 70-80% of your bench comparatively from several powerlifting authors.

    If you're benching 400 but rowing 200, that could be an issue but otherwise if the two are pretty close you shouldn't have to worry about it much.

    Honestly, I have never heard someone say they have been rowing too much, so it always pays to add in more.
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    If in doubt, row more.
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    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    I Honestly doubt it truely matters With regards to injuries and balance..

    For efficiency?.. You would be surprised how little row/chin you can do and not worry tho (contrary to what most on the forum suggest s a push/pull/reach ratio)

    That being said I build my back for size,.gotta cast an imposing shadowy...
    I don't really care about ratios of strength for bench vs back.
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    I don't care that much about ratios either. We tell novices to do equal amounts for different bodyparts otherwise they'd do nothing but benchin' and curlin' but this is a rather broad brush strategy.

    If its a question of balance to avoid injury - you need to have reasonable strength in a full ROM for all muscles around a joint - but they will each have very different strength profiles due to both size and leverages involved. In the past I've dealt with issues using quite targetted isolation exercises - not by just adjusting the amount of pushing vs. pulling.

    Personally I have quite a strong back so my pullups and rows vs. my bench and OHP are always going to look high compared to another person - but that doesn't mean they have a higher injury risk than me.
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    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    It's a bit like the what % of my deadlift should. My squat be.

    It shouldn't be any particular amount.

    Would a 140 bench and a 50 row say something about your training history. Yes.
    But it doesn't have to be any different
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    Doesn't matter... from your profile pic your row is strong enough. I'd go by your own aesthetic preferences to decide if you need more row strength - esp since there's so many diff ways people row and equipment they use.

    Same as chest, development wise you can get by fine without traditional BP so it's also somewhat irrelevant.

    Personally my shoulders feel better the more pull work I do, so I use that as a gauge to balance push work in general.
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    Honest Avatar faithbrah's Avatar
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    not sure... my bench is poverty tier and only 10 pounds higher than my pendlay rows
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    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    . In the past I've dealt with issues using quite targetted isolation exercises - not by just adjusting the amount of pushing vs. pulling.
    I like this.

    Most people who chase numbers (especially with back) end up just hammering their lats and essentially skipping the that parts that would be most useful for any bench stability transfer.. Or a more complete back for body building/aesthetic purposes.

    I my self have fallen into this trap. Havin done pretty strict 3½ plate pendlays and 140kg NG chins.
    I've certainly chased numbers too hard and missed targeting and feeling that nice section of mid and low trap meat that sits between the lats and under the chunky upper traps to a certain degree.

    Currently bringing that up now. With what for me is bitch weight Compated to what I could use. The bench to row ratio of that part is mad low.

    Recently got an EXCELLENT rev pec dev and new angled row machines in our gym. Making this job much easier
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  10. #10
    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    It would depend on what kind of row. Strict Pendlay or Seal Row? I'd say the Seal would be the best direct comparison because it removes the lower back and removes any chance for body english. You're also pinned against the bench same way as in bench press.

    That website StrengthLevel has a ratio of row around 88% of bench.
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  11. #11
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    I like this.

    Most people who chase numbers (especially with back) end up just hammering their lats and essentially skipping the that parts that would be most useful for any bench stability transfer.. Or a more complete back for body building/aesthetic purposes.

    I my self have fallen into this trap. Havin done pretty strict 3½ plate pendlays and 140kg NG chins.
    I've certainly chased numbers too hard and missed targeting and feeling that nice section of mid and low trap meat that sits between the lats and under the chunky upper traps to a certain degree.

    Currently bringing that up now. With what for me is bitch weight Compated to what I could use. The bench to row ratio of that part is mad low.

    Recently got an EXCELLENT rev pec dev and new angled row machines in our gym. Making this job much easier
    I really like the pec deck - both for rear delts and actual pecs(!) It's probably the only thing that has actually given me a rear delt pump which is an odd sensation.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I really like the pec deck - both for rear delts and actual pecs(!) It's probably the only thing that has actually given me a rear delt pump which is an odd sensation.
    Good for rhomboids and mid traps too! Especially with the neutral handles.
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    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I really like the pec deck - both for rear delts and actual pecs(!) It's probably the only thing that has actually given me a rear delt pump which is an odd sensation.
    Rear delts are my fave thing to train lul.
    I can get a rear delt pump with just about anything Which is useful 😂

    For others that don't/can't.
    Gotta kind of reach forward/protract with the seratus while you do em, which I'm. Sure you have found too?

    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Good for rhomboids and mid traps too! Especially with the neutral handles.
    Yeah man! So many great ways to tweak the kit.
    The opposite to the above technique.
    You can hammer the rhomboids s by retracting harder and sooner aswell as the 'thumbs up grip
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  14. #14
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    It would depend on what kind of row. Strict Pendlay or Seal Row? I'd say the Seal would be the best direct comparison because it removes the lower back and removes any chance for body english. You're also pinned against the bench same way as in bench press.

    That website StrengthLevel has a ratio of row around 88% of bench.
    Seal row looks pretty intense... I had Pendlays in mind actually, as they're more immediately analogous to a barbell bench, but point taken on nullifying cheating.

    Resetting between reps with pendlays and checking the back angle before initiating the pull cuts out a lot of the body English IMO, but it's easy to miss if you're deadlifting it up through the sticking point.

    88% seems about right I guess. I think it's better to be back-dominant than chest-dominant, but since the lats and the pectorals aren't equal muscles just because they're opposite, doesn't mean there's no "ideal" to search for as a balance. Conventional powerlifting enthrones a concentric horizontal press but not a corresponding pull, even if that's included as assistance work.

    So, I suppose it's never a wrong answer to row more. Curious if anyone's got overdeveloped rear-delts and small anteriors and chest. I doubt it exists, honestly.
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    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Seal row looks pretty intense... I had Pendlays in mind actually, as they're more immediately analogous to a barbell bench, but point taken on nullifying cheating.

    Resetting between reps with pendlays and checking the back angle before initiating the pull cuts out a lot of the body English IMO, but it's easy to miss if you're deadlifting it up through the sticking point.

    88% seems about right I guess. I think it's better to be back-dominant than chest-dominant, but since the lats and the pectorals aren't equal muscles just because they're opposite, doesn't mean there's no "ideal" to search for as a balance. Conventional powerlifting enthrones a concentric horizontal press but not a corresponding pull, even if that's included as assistance work.

    So, I suppose it's never a wrong answer to row more. Curious if anyone's got overdeveloped rear-delts and small anteriors and chest. I doubt it exists, honestly.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I really like the pec deck - both for rear delts and actual pecs(!) It's probably the only thing that has actually given me a rear delt pump which is an odd sensation.
    Although slightly on and off topic and being an equipment crew junkie, I've always wanted a pec deck in my home gym for this movement in particular (rear delt flys) and perhaps a few chest flys as a finisher (a plate loaded one because it's relatively cheaper and easier to move around for the minimal movements it does)...that said, would you say alternating in rear delt flys with cable machine face pulls sometimes (which I already do currently) would be equivalent movements here and there?
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Seal row looks pretty intense... I had Pendlays in mind actually, as they're more immediately analogous to a barbell bench, but point taken on nullifying cheating.

    Resetting between reps with pendlays and checking the back angle before initiating the pull cuts out a lot of the body English IMO, but it's easy to miss if you're deadlifting it up through the sticking point.

    88% seems about right I guess. I think it's better to be back-dominant than chest-dominant, but since the lats and the pectorals aren't equal muscles just because they're opposite, doesn't mean there's no "ideal" to search for as a balance. Conventional powerlifting enthrones a concentric horizontal press but not a corresponding pull, even if that's included as assistance work.

    So, I suppose it's never a wrong answer to row more. Curious if anyone's got overdeveloped rear-delts and small anteriors and chest. I doubt it exists, honestly.
    Strongmen maybe would have stronger pulls compared to pushes.

    Actually interesting to look into the details of which row is the best contrast to bench. Even the powerlifting bench has a bit of body english with leg drive, so some english on row would have to be accepted, too. The leg drive gives more stability and power, so maybe seal row with feet pushing against a wall or plate behind would be equivalent? Actually tried to rig up a seal row in my rack for this evening's session but the bar hits the bench underneath and cuts ROM a few inches.
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    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    Any swimmer, ever haha
    Touché... Highschool/college I remember seeing swimmers who had rear delts and lats but seemed to lack most everything else.

    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    Strongmen maybe would have stronger pulls compared to pushes.

    Actually interesting to look into the details of which row is the best contrast to bench. Even the powerlifting bench has a bit of body english with leg drive, so some english on row would have to be accepted, too. The leg drive gives more stability and power, so maybe seal row with feet pushing against a wall or plate behind would be equivalent? Actually tried to rig up a seal row in my rack for this evening's session but the bar hits the bench underneath and cuts ROM a few inches.
    Would it be impossible to lean halfway over the bench and do them over the edge? It would be like a half-plank/row and might be too awkward for effectiveness, but it's a thought.
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Would it be impossible to lean halfway over the bench and do them over the edge? It would be like a half-plank/row and might be too awkward for effectiveness, but it's a thought.
    My fear would be tipping forward and eating the bar, as a loaded barbell weighs much more than my legs. Could hook ankles under something...I'll try next row session.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Would it be impossible to lean halfway over the bench and do them over the edge? It would be like a half-plank/row and might be too awkward for effectiveness, but it's a thought.
    Most benches wouldn't withstand the moment arm that'd be created by your idea, and would tip. Some poorly designed ones even tip when you try to do a regular incline chest supported row.
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    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    Strongmen maybe would have stronger pulls compared to pushes.

    Actually interesting to look into the details of which row is the best contrast to bench. Even the powerlifting bench has a bit of body english with leg drive, so some english on row would have to be accepted, too. The leg drive gives more stability and power, so maybe seal row with feet pushing against a wall or plate behind would be equivalent? Actually tried to rig up a seal row in my rack for this evening's session but the bar hits the bench underneath and cuts ROM a few inches.
    larsen press vs seal row?
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    Curious to see how that works out EC.

    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Most benches wouldn't withstand the moment arm that'd be created by your idea, and would tip. Some poorly designed ones even tip when you try to do a regular incline chest supported row.
    Good point. At my gym, they're actually fixed to the rack and so you'd have to tip the whole thing, which has slots for several hundred pounds besides its own weight. I had those in mind.
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    I like this.

    Most people who chase numbers (especially with back) end up just hammering their lats and essentially skipping the that parts that would be most useful for any bench stability transfer.. Or a more complete back for body building/aesthetic purposes.
    Too true. When I was Olympic lifting I had some great pulling strength but my bench was absolute trash (at the time, I could actually clean and jerk more than my bench press). I assumed all the snatches, cleans, and pulls would cover me well but the best thing for my bench stability was incorporating Kelso shrugs with dumbbells at the advice of a powerlifting friend. Training that way got me to my best bench press ever at a meet (which isn't amazing, as I have long arms so upper body pushes have always sucked for me).
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    It is common for presses to get an undue amount of attention in many training regimens. My own anecdotal reference and some casual reading seem to contend that there is a positive correlation between rowing strength and pressing potential.

    While horizontal pulls and presses are both integral movement patterns, even as mirrored motions, they're still not using equivalent muscles or even the same joint mechanics, making a direct comparison beyond that somewhat elusive. I want to say a good rule of thumb would be equal rows and benches, but that seems to be a cursory conclusion and I'm curious what kind of well-researched arguments for a particular ratio there are.

    In my own case, like many, I bench with much greater frequency and intensity between the two, so the curt answer is simply to row more regardless, but beyond that I'd like to know what everyone's thoughts are.
    I try to keep my total pull volume higher than my total push volume, about 1.5 times higher volume measured by the number of hard sets. My horizontal pulling volume is about 1:1 compared with horizontal pushing (I do more pullups than overhead pressing). My thinking on this has been that I have a sedentary job, and I probably do more pressing movements than pulling movements in my daily life so it's important to balance the volume and maybe the additional pulling volume helps counterbalance the daily life tendency. I haven't had any shoulder issues except when I first started lifting and did the clueless newbie press-dominant brosplit routine.

    But I've always had stronger pressing strength than pulling strength - my pulling strength has always lagged behind and been more "stubborn" whereas I quickly progress on pressing movements even on a low volume. I think this is also why I enjoy pressing more than pulling, and pulling feels more like a chore. I think this is quite usual? I think I've read stories from people on this forum who are the opposite.
    Last edited by EiFit91; 05-18-2021 at 04:19 AM.
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    I try to keep my total pull volume higher than my total push volume, about 1.5 times higher volume measured by the number of hard sets. My horizontal pulling volume is about 1:1 compared with horizontal pushing (I do more pullups than overhead pressing). My thinking on this has been that I have a sedentary job, and I probably do more pressing movements than pulling movements in my daily life so it's important to balance the volume and maybe the additional pulling volume helps counterbalance the daily life tendency. I haven't had any shoulder issues except when I first started lifting and did the clueless newbie press-dominant brosplit routine.

    But I've always had stronger pressing strength than pulling strength - my pulling strength has always lagged behind and been more "stubborn" whereas I quickly progress on pressing movements even on a low volume. I think this is also why I enjoy pressing more than pulling, and pulling feels more like a chore. I think this is quite usual? I think I've read stories from people on this forum who are the opposite.
    I think this is a good approach, although that ratio might still be a bit high (I was thinking 1:1 might be a good target for most). As you've doubtless encountered, it is obviously quite possible and actually a common scenario for someone to have relatively overdeveloped anterior delts, chest and even triceps with a narrow and thin back, while I don't think it's possible to overdevelop your back in the same way, where it will give you stability issues and disproportionate posture. If you have a huge, wide back and no chest, you might look like a kite or a turtle but who cares, your critics will either compliment or not have your wings. xD Just bench seriously for a while and that will be corrected in short order. Much worse problem to have a big chest and no back, IMO.

    Interestingly though, my pulls have always been way stronger than my presses, as far as improvement's response to time and effort goes. I benched religiously for years to get 315 one time, and I've never replicated it (even though my volume work would project an even higher max), but pulls come easily for whatever reason. Odd because my dad and my older brother each got their bench above 315 pretty quickly.

    So how do your maxes compare between the two, relative to that volume (and your natural proclivity with presses)?
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