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Meadows Row

The Meadows Row

The Meadows Row is an exercise coined by the late great John Meadows as a way to effectively target most of the musculature of the entire upper back in a very simple way. It is a unilateral exercise that works your essentially your entire upper back but also crosses over into traps, biceps and forearms as with any row movement. 

In this article, we’re going to explain exactly how to perform a meadows row, how to programme it and why you should place it in your programme.

Meadows Row Exercise Tutorial

In today’s episode of here’s one I made earlier (quite literally in 2019), here’s a video tutorial of me showing you how to perform a meadows row. The form is exactly the same now as it was then and a great reference point for attempting and completing the exercise.

What are the benefits of the Meadows Row?

The Meadows Row is a solid back movement that can be used to effectively engage your entire muscular structure of your upper back. The loads used are lower than with barbell or dumbbell row variants and thus place less load through the spine and can be exceptionally beneficial for those with lower back issues as a result.

Alongside this, as an exercise, due to the perpendicular position of the body to the path of the bar, there is a different stretch action and line of pull than with other row movements.

Crossover benefits include grip strength due to holding a fatter bar position and core stability as of course you’re holding yourself in that braced bent over position for the duration of the exercise.

How to set up the exercise

First port of call, just watch the video above. But, here’s a step by step guide of how to set up a Meadows Row.

  1. Select Equipment: Grab yourself a barbell and the landmine attachment

  2. Where to stand: Stand perpendicular to the bar, with your feet around shoulder width, positioning your leg nearest the bar behind you to open up your torso

  3. Grip: Grab the bar (at the point where you add weight rather than where you would normally hold a barbell) with an overhand grip and use straps if necessary

  4. Start the movement: To initiate the movement, pull the barbell up by moving your elbow out to the side at an angle around 45-60 degrees from your body

  5. The Rep: Pull the bar up until you are level with your torso, hold in the contracted position then lower the bar into the full stretched bottom position. You should not be moving your torso in the movement, but instead only allowing your arm to be the primary moved. 

  6. Repeat

When programming the Meadows row, we’re primarily using this as an accessory exercise rather than the primary back loading exercise due to the lesser fatigue nature of the movement. 

As such, we’re going to be taking this through slightly higher rep ranges in the 8-12 region and generally performing either in straight sets or a top set and back off set method. 

Common Mistakes

The meadows row is a really easy exercise to get very wrong. This is not a barbell row, a landmine or T bar row. It is a completely different movement pattern and the key is where you position yourself in relation to the bar. 

Many common mistakes trainees make is to not tether themselves in using too much lateral torso movement to move the load, pulling the bar in close to the body which removes the stretch emphasis of the exercise and ultimately just makes it a normal row. 

You can do this movement with a DB too, but honestly I’d just stick to the landmine attachment as it is an easier exercise to get your head around and forces the line of path for the bar. 


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