Barbell Rows, Bent-over Rows, etc – Sun 5.22.16

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I love CrossFit and most of what CrossFit prescribes.  But, often times, CrossFit and other functional fitness programs, rely too heavily on push movements or focus on improving the anterior chain of the body.  Voluminous pressing driven by the bodybuilder era, boot camp era, etc maintains the current emphasis in training, even in the  more “functional” movements era today..

My training (both personal and for the gym, which is about the same) leans heavily towards pulling movements as our primary strength and power developers.  The emphasis on the posterior chain isn’t just about creating musculature and building up the lats, erectors, glutes, and hamstring. A program that demands regular explosive pulling will in turn build a machine (you) that is capable of meeting those explosive demands.  The SAID Principle – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand – is responsible for my reasoning to reverse engineering loads, volumes, and in this case, movement patterns that will facilitate the ability to go harder, faster, longer!

Advocating approximately 2:1 pulling to pushing, can lead to an athlete’s indifference or laziness in pressing movements.  Or worse, a de-motivation to complete pulling movements, because we are not as adept at doing them, we don’t like doing what we are not good at.  But focusing on the things we are not good at, is the key to a healthy, balanced muscles and joints.

Monday, we are going to be doing Barbell Rows, or bent rows, or bent over rows, or whatever you want to call them.  Why?  Because it’s Monday, and many other people are going to be doing “Bench Day” as they usually call it.  Or because Saturday you did a workout that was heavily weighted to the anterior chain .  Or, If you decided not to rest on Sunday, you most likely did a workout that was heavily weighted to the anterior chain.

So, with our Monday workout, we will work again on the posterior chain with some Barbell Rows, Bent Over Rows, Bent Rows, whatever you want to call them.

Barbell Rows are a full body, compound exercise. They work your upper-back, lower back, hips and arms.  I want to give a few of the things I think of, that may not otherwise be easily picked up on:

  •  The barbell row is a horizontal pull, but is also in the category of a hip dominant movement. The hips and butt should be pushed back with a slight bend at the knee. This stretches the hamstrings and gets the glutes ready to participate as much as they can. A natural tendency is to get fairly knee dominant with these, which will only place undue pressure on the quadriceps and take away from the focus of the exercise.
  • As you pull the bar up, focus on pinching your shoulder blades together at the top to get the most range of motion and muscular activation in the upper back.
  • After you lower the bar under control during each rep, pause at the bottom for a second before going into your next pull. This creates a “dead stop” effect taking away any potential momentum, typical toward the end of a heavy set.
  •  In my opinion, a parallel or very slightly above parallel position of the torso is the most effective route to go. It won’t allow you to use as much weight as a 45 degree angle does, but it will train the muscles that will have the best carryover to your deadlift and represent more of what a deadlift looks like.

Go out and improve your pulls, and you will improve every aspect of CrossFit and strength and conditiong!

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