The T-bar row will add size and thickness to your middle back and lats. The rhomboid, latissimus dorsi, teres major and trapezius are the major muscles involved in the T-bar row.
Commercial T-bar row machines are expensive ($300 to $1100 and more) and take up a lot of space. You can make a homemade T-Bar row for alot less. I know other lifters take an olympic bar and shove one end into a corner so the bar won't slide and do T-bar rows that way. I thought about butting my Olympic bar up against a corner of a wall, but my walls have wood molding around the bottom and I don't feel like damaging them.
The biggest problem with this method is that as you increase the weight, the lighter, empty end starts to rise if you don't put a 45lb plate on it.
Obviously others have experienced this problem and this is a solution Body Solid came up with:
The bracket mounts underneath the base of your power rack. But for $55 including shipping, I knew I could make one for less.
During a visit to my local Home Depot, I picked these items up and made my own.
I removed one of the bolts from my Powertec P-PR power rack and replaced it with a 1/2" x 8" piece of threaded rod.
Next, I drilled a 1/2" clearance hole through the 2" x 6" pipe nipple. I started with a 3/16" bit and worked up to a 1/2" bit. A 1/2" bit is the largest bit my drill will accept, so I had to enlarge the hole slightly with a round file so the 1/2" threaded rod would go through.
I assembled it using the washers, nuts, and locknut. The locknut goes on the far left end of the threaded rod, like this:
The pipe nipple pivots on the threaded rod, and the threaded rod keeps the Olympic bar from sliding through the pipe nipple. The assembly is a little stiff at first, but wears in nicely.
To make it easier to add and remove weight, I bought a single jack stand from Wal-Mart ($10.97):
Lifting the weight, you can use a d-handle, or I was also using an EZ-curl bar. But I decided to buy the Body Solid Lat Blaster Bar. This easily fits on all standard and Olympic Bars.
Total cost of my homemade T-Bar Row: around $67. If you decide not to buy the Lat Blaster Bar and use a bar you currently have, the cost is only around $20.
Important: When this t-bar row is heavily loaded and you are pulling back on it, the power rack may move if it's not anchored down. I took care of this by bracing the power rack against my weight rack. (see the first FAQ and photo on this page)
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Keep your abs tight, pull the bar up and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Use 25lb and 35lb plates. These have a smaller diameter than 45lb plates. Bigger plates could limit your range of motion.
Maintain an arch in your back and suck your stomach in, this will prevent lower back injury.
Keep your elbows close to your sides. Flaring your elbows decreases effectiveness of this exercise.
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Homemade power rack. Build your own and save $.