Kroc Rows

kroc rowsKroc Rows are a dumbbell back exercise named after Matt Kroc (Kroczaleski). Matt is a record holding powerlifter and bodybuilder who has now become a transgender named Janae Marie Kroc (Kroczaleski). Nope, I didn’t make this shit up.


Matt Kroc is now Janae Marie Kroc

As a powerlifter, Matt found at one point that his grip strength was the limiting factor in his deadlifts. He learned from past experience that heavy single arm dumbbell rows (without lifting straps) helped increase his grip strength more than the other things he tried.

The problem he had was finding heavy enough dumbbells to use at commercial gyms.

Since he was limited on the weight available to use, he just took the heaviest dumbbell he had and tried to do more reps with it each workout instead. This eventually lead to sets well over 20 reps.

Using these rows Matt saw great gains in his back and grip strength development (which improved his deadlift). Eventually he even had custom dumbbell handles made that allowed him to use 300+ pounds still for fairly high reps.

The term Kroc Rows started when legendary powerlifter Jim Wendler saw Matt Kroc doing his rows and started using them himself. He even recommend them to other powerlifters to boost their back/grip strength and deadlift weights as Matt had.

jim-wendler-quotesAlthough Matt started doing his Kroc Rows without lifting straps, straps can be used if your goal is primarily back development and your grip strength is the limiting factor in using more weight. Matt Kroc himself needed straps to set PRs like 300 pounds for 13 reps.

Although Kroc Rows are great for developing back size and strength, they work really well for forearm (grip) strength especially when no lifting straps are used.

Since you will be holding a heavy weight for one long high rep set, the forearm muscles will be challenged similar to that when using isometrics.

How to Do Kroc Rows

Kroc Rows are really just heavy loose form one arm dumbbell rows for high reps.

High reps with the heaviest weight can only be done if the reps used are not very strict. The form should NOT use a lot of momentum like cheat reps but the reps cannot be slow controlled continuous tension type reps with pauses at the top either.

Kroc Rows can be done with one hand and knee on a flat bench. You can also do them standing with both feet on the floor and your other hand against something solid. As the dumbbells get longer and heavier, this is typically the easier set-up.

Whatever method used, your shoulders should be slightly higher than your hips so the upper body is at a low incline to the floor. You don’t want to stand too upright as that shortens the range of motion.

Although you will use heavy weights, you still want to get a full range of motion and stretch the lats at the bottom by letting the shoulder blade fully extend downward toward the floor.

For a good contraction at the top pull the hand in a straight line to the bottom of the chest/rib cage by pulling the elbow/shoulder blade up and back.


Matt Kroc showing how to do Kroc Rows

DO NOT try to keep your elbow tucked at your side during the reps. While that form is best when doing strict reps in a normal single arm dumbbell row, it will limit the amount of weight that can be used in Kroc Rows.

Lifting straps can be used if needed when your goal is back development over grip strength improvements.

To get the most benefit out of Kroc Rows it’s best to rotate using straps during some workouts and not on others so both the back and forearms are equally stressed.

Kroc Rows Workout

Start by doing a few low rep (10 reps or less) warm-ups sets with each arm before one final all out set generally for 20 or more reps. If done right, you will probably feel like you just did a high rep set of squats.

The goal during Kroc Rows is simple. Do one all out set to failure using the most weight possible for as many reps as possible while trying to set a personal record (PR) with the weight used.

You can add weight when the reps get really high (say 40) or just when you want to challenge yourself to set a new PR at a particular weight. Nothing is written in stone.

You don’t have to use the same weight every workout or even add weight (just try to get more reps).

For whatever weight you use, just try to do as many reps as possible to set a PR at that weight. During future workouts you will simply try to do more reps than you did before at that weight you are using.