By: Andy Mog and Will Sunner

When we bring an object closer to our body, we are typically performing a “rowing” motion. Whether to open/close doors, get the lawn mower started, or bring our grandchildren in for a hug, rowing is necessary for our activities of daily living. This week’s Focus Point will discuss the value of the row and teach you how to perform it correctly.

The basic movement of the row is a horizontal pull towards your chest. Similar to the lat pulldown, rows strengthen the shoulder and back muscles, help stabilize the spine, and play a major role in correcting the rounded shoulder posture associated with too much sitting. Remember, the muscles in-between your shoulder blades should be slightly engaged at all times (20% effort), which is done using the muscles we train with the row!

Different variations of the row will slightly change the emphasis of the exercise. For example, seated rows allow you to focus on the movement itself, TRX (or inverted) rows require your entire body to be engaged, and single arm rows are great for working rotational stability.

No matter what row variation you are performing, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Start with the arms extended and shoulders pulled down and back.
  • Initiate the pull with the shoulder blades coming together, not the elbows pulling back.
  • Do not arch the low back at any time.
  • Maintain a neutral neck position; do not allow your head to drop or “gooseneck”.
  • Pinch the shoulder blades together at the top of the pull.
  • As you return back to the starting position, be sure to control the weight down, do not let it drop.

When performed properly, rowing is a crucial movement to have in one’s exercise program. Its simplicity makes it great for working out independently and with high intensity. Moving forward, get the most out of your rows by focusing on excellent form every rep and be sure to talk with your trainer about which rowing variety is appropriate for you.

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