Sometimes you need to try a different exercise in order to maintain your interest. Other times it can help you to take it to the next level.  The Meadows Row has been described as a simple but extremely effective way to build muscles, particularly the lats in your back.

The Meadows Row is a staple part of John Meadow’s routine. He has been credited with its rapid increase in popularity. Anyone who has an interest in bodybuilding will have heard of John Meadows. His physique and the size of his back is partly due to his commitment to Meadows Row.

The Benefits Of Meadows Row

This exercise is designed to target your lats, traps, and rear delts. If done properly, it will create small tears in your muscles, which will heal and ensure your muscles grow stronger and larger.

meadows row muscles workedThis is also a great way to improve your grip. The barbell is generally much thicker than a dumbbell, which will force you to grip harder and increase the strength of your grip.

Of course, you shouldn't be doing just this exercise; you need a balanced body. Take a look at the Old School Muscle Program or even the 24-minute workout to see some other great exercises that will build strength and endurance.

It is important to have a healthy lower back and a stable core before you start doing this exercise.

How To Do The Meadows Row

It’s actually very easy, and it’s a great option if you want to maximize your lifting even if your gym doesn't have the largest weights.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1 – Set Your T-Bar or Barbell

Choose the weight you want to start with. It’s easy to make this lighter or heavier so you can change during the exercise or before you try it again.

To set up, you simply need to load as much weight as you want onto one end of a barbell. The other end can be empty as it stays on the ground.

Top Tip: Although you want to work on your grip, it is a good idea to use a strap or a dedicated handle. This will help to ensure you don’t drop the weight.

Step 2 – Get The Right Position

Place your left leg in front of your right, and grab the weighted end of the bar with your left hand. Bend slightly so that your chest is facing towards the floor. It should be at the same angle as the bar you've just picked up.

You can rest your right hand on your right knee to increase your stability.

The essential point at this stage is to keep your left hip higher than your right one.

Step 3 – Drive Upwards

You can now drive your left elbow up as high as possible, raise your left hip at the same time, but focus on keeping your back still. You don’t want to rotate your back, as this will dramatically increase the strain on your lower back and potentially cause an injury.

Step 4 – Return

Now lower your arm back down so that it is straight. Again you need to focus on keeping your back motionless (don't let it rotate.)

When you lower your arm, the weights should be nearly touching the floor. When it’s in the up position, your hand should be nearly under your armpit.

Step 5 – Repeat

That was a single rep. Now keep going at a slow and steady pace to ensure you really feel the burn. You should be aiming for 4 or even 5 sets of 12 reps to really see some growth in your lats.

barbell with weights meadows rowIdeally, this should place you near the point of exhaustion. If it doesn't you need to increase the weight on your barbell or T-bar.

Of course, if you’re doing these for the first time, you can settle for 3 sets and work your way up to 5 sets. To ensure the Meadows Row remains effective, you need to keep increasing the weight. The harder you push, the bigger the gains will be.

However, as with any muscle-building exercise, you must give your lats time to recover between exercises. Forty-eight hours is the usual recovery time, meaning that you can do the Meadows row 3 times a week; just don’t forget to include the Old School Muscle program into your regime.


Variation is the key to successful and continuing muscle building. That means the Meadows Row should be just one of the exercises in your arsenal. Varying exercises will keep your body on its toes and help the Meadows Row to be as effective as possible every time you do it.

Other exercises which are great at working your back are:

Bent Over Row

Your feet need to be shoulder-width apart, and you’ll need a dumbbell in each hand. Then bend your knees slightly and hinge forward from your hips.

dumbbell rowKeep your back flat, your arms straight, and your hands in line with your shoulders.

Then bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells to your chest before straightening your arms again.

Repeat 10 times and try to complete 3 sets.

Dumbbell Row

The great thing about this is that you can do it at home with a set of dumbbells. Not everyone has a barbell or T-bar at home, so this is a good one to keep your exercises going when you can’t make it to the gym.

Place your left knee on the bench and your left hand on the other end of the bench for support. Your chest should be parallel to the bench. Hold your dumbbell with your right hand beside your chest and then lower it down until your arm is straight. Bring it back up ensuring you don’t twist your back in the process.

You’re aiming for 8 – 10 reps with a total of 3 sets. Repeat with the other side.


Ideally, you want to do this with a barbell loaded to the maximum you can lift.

deadlift meadows rowPlace your feet slightly narrower than your shoulders and make sure the bar is against your shins; your feet will be under it. Your shoulders must be in line with the bar.

Now stand tall and take a deep breath. Your chest should go out, and you need to brace your stomach as though you’re about to be punched.

Lower yourself to the bar by pushing your hips back. Keep your shoulders down and arch your lower back.

Now you can grasp the bar and drive your body upwards as fast as you can. You should be pushing through your heels. Your lower back must stay arched, and your elbows locked into place. Keep lifting and squeeze your glutes to reach the top of the deadlift.

Reverse the steps and slowly lower it back to the floor.

Get Started Today

Try out the Meadows Row and the Old School Muscle program today. If you’re doing it right, you’ll ache tomorrow. We’d love to hear how you got on and the difference it’s making to your back, posture, and strength.

Share your results with the Fit Father Project and gain the support you need to keep exercising. You won’t just be improving your fitness and strength. You’ll be inspiring other men to do the same thing!

Don’t forget this is just a few of the exercises that can help you get a stronger back and fitter body. Check out the FF30X to see a host of other options that can help you lose weight and build muscle fast.

Your new friend & health coach,

stuart-headshotStuart Carter
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project

Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

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