Kroc Rows to Work Your Back and Your Width

Kroc Rows

Kroc rows, named after the bodybuilder and powerlifter Matt Kroc (Matthew Kroczaleski), have become a popular exercise for lifters looking to add mass to their back and biceps. 

Despite their somewhat unusual name, Kroc rows offer unique benefits and could be precisely what your back routine needs. 

Read on to learn what the movement is, why you should do it, and how to perform it safely, step by step.

What Are Kroc Rows?

Kroc rows are a unilateral (single-arm) dumbbell exercise that targets the upper back (latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, rhomboids, trapezius, infraspinatus, etc.), biceps, and forearms. It is a variation of the classic dumbbell row, where the objective is to lift a heavier dumbbell for more reps by purposefully using some momentum. 

Another difference between Kroc and classic dumbbell rows is your torso position. Where dumbbell rows require a torso almost parallel to the floor, Kroc rows are done with a more upright torso.

The most notable benefit of the movement is that it builds back, bicep, and grip strength, which contribute to your deadlift and pull-up performance. Placing a greater overload on your muscles is also an effective way to build muscle and break through plateaus.

How to Perform Kroc Rows (Step-by-Step)

  1. Grab a slightly heavier dumbbell.
  2. With the weight in your right hand, place your left knee and left hand on a flat gym bench. Keep your right foot planted on the floor with the knee slightly bent.
  3. Bring your chest out, take a deep breath, and squeeze your abs.
  4. Initiate the rep with a powerful pull, allowing your torso to move up several degrees.
  5. Pause at the top position briefly and lower the dumbbell to the starting position without allowing your shoulder blade to protract (roll forward).
  6. Inhale again and repeat.
  7. Once finished, grab the weight with your other hand, plant your opposite hand and knee on the flat gym bench, and do the same number of reps.

How to Fit Kroc Rows Into Your Training

Since Kroc rows are traditionally done with a heavier weight, performing them early in your workouts is best to get more out of them and maintain proper form. Performing the movement in a fatigued state can increase the risk of technique breakdown and excessive swinging, which could put you at risk of an injury.

As for the workout type, you can do Kroc rows as part of a full-body or pull workout. You can do 3 to 5 sets and aim for up to 15 reps per set.

Here’s how the movement might fit in a back and biceps workout:

Kroc Rows412-15
Lat Pulldowns3-412-15
Seated Cable Rows3-412-15
Dumbbell Shrugs312-15
Dumbbell Bicep Curls315-20
Crucifix Curls2-315-20

Best Torso to Waist Ratio 

The ideal ratio for most men looking to have a tapered look is 1.3. This is not bodybuilder size, but 1.3 is a very achievable ratio for someone living a normal, working life. And at A Lean Life we feel the lean, hard look is the best visual physique, versus the overbuilt, overdone look.

And the ratio of 1.3 looks great in a suit, or at the beach!

So what this 1.3 ratio means in an example:

  • Upper torso (measured at the pecs): 42″
  • Waist: 32″
  • Ratio: 42/32 = 1.31

Safety Tips For Kroc Rows

Our main safety tip for Kroc rows is to start with a lighter weight to get a good feel for the movement. While it may be tempting to grab the heaviest dumbbell you’ve ever used and start rowing, going too heavy right from the start can put you at risk of injury. (1)

Start with around 70-80 percent of what you usually row and gradually increase the load over several weeks.

Second, always take the time to warm up before working out. Begin with some light cardio (jog in place, cycle on a bike, etc.), do a few minutes of dynamic stretching (arm and leg swings, wrist rotations, torso twists, etc.), and do a few lighter sets of rows to warm up your back, shoulders, biceps, and forearms. (2)

Some more great dumbbell exercises:

Click to return to dumbbell workouts.

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David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, November 29). Weight-training do’s and don’ts. Mayo Clinic.
  2. Elizabeth Quinn, M. S. (2020, March 13). Prevent injuries. Verywell Fit. 

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