Why row you ask?

If you want to look awesome…row
If you want a sexy back….row
If you want a bigger back (men)… row
If you want to do more pullups…row
If you want to improve your deadlift and bench…row
If you want to improve your posture…row
If you want to get rid of your back pain…row
If you want to be more awesome…row

Did I give you a reason yet??
When performed correctly, the row (any variation) is one of the most beneficial movements you can perform in the gym.

You’ve heard it over and over: sitting all day is pretty much the worst. But just to reiterate, sitting too much generally yields weak or under active glutes, tight/weak hip flexors, weak upper back, tights chest/pecs, poor breathing patterns (yes you can breath incorrectly), hypertonic upper traps, low back pain, and mad cow disease.

Heh. You caught me.

I talk a lot about strengthening the glutes and stretching the hip flexors (cause that’s my favorite), but actually improving your sitting posture may be even more helpful in improving your performance in the gym and decreasing pain and risk of injury. I also like to call it the anti Smeagol exercise.

Now that’s what I call sexy posture

There’s many variations of the row, and all of them have their place in programming. Choose any of these to spice up you’re routine.

Single arm bent over row

Alternating SA bent over row

Knee on bench row

Inverted row
TRX row

Feet elevated inverted/TRX row
Band resisted row

Squat row with rope

Single arm cable row: high/low setting

Landmine row


A few others without videos:

Barbell/Dumbbell/kettlebell/anything-that-weighs-anything bent over row

Feet elevated inverted/TRX row

Renegade row

Seated row

Grip/Hand position/Stance position

All of the above factor into the effects of the particular exercise.  For example, when doing an inverted row, you can do an underhand or overhand grip, both which will work the muscles differently. The same goes for a wide or narrow hand position, or wide/narrow/staggered stance position.

Back Position and Posture

Often times you’ll see people rowing like this:

Is that smeagol??

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of good posture while rowing. If you’re in the same crappy posture that you’re in all the time, you’re just reinforcing it in a loaded manner, and causing more harm than good.

Push your butt back, keep your chest tall, shoulders down, and your head right in line with your spine.  It should look like this:

“But Laura! You’ve given me all these awesome things to do and I don’t know how to program them!”

Okay fiiiinne. Here’s your upper body pull program. This is all going to depend of how many days per week you train. If you train 2 days/week, I suggest doing a total body “pull” day (AKA rows, pullups, deadlifts). If you train 2-4 days a week, you can split it up into lower body pull, upper body pull, lower body push, upper body push.  So you can fit this into your program however you’d like to work it.

Week 1 Week 2** Week 3
Med Low High
1A) Pullup 3×5 3×3 3×8
1B) Light band resisted Row 3×12 3×12 3×12
1C) Deadlift* 3×6 4×3 3×12
2A) Barbell Bent Over Row 3×8 3×5 3×12
2B) Doorway Pec stretch 30s/side 30s/side 30s/side
2C) Reverse Lunges* 3×16 3×10 3×20
3A) Pallof Press 3×8/side 3×8/side 3×8/side
3B) Off Set Landmind Row 3×8/side 3×5/side 3×12/side
3C) Single leg deadlift* 3×6/side 3×6/side 3×6/side
4A) Seated Row 3×8 3×5 3×12
4B) TRX pistol squat* 3×6/side 3×6/side 3×6/side
* If on a 2days/week split
**Increase your weight for week 2

Happy Rowing!