THE BODY-ROW...

This month we want a BIG focus on Body-Rows. Strive to train them as fresh as possible and focus on them like your life depends on it! They are great way to build toned arms and upper back musculature and great for your posture too.

BACK TO PROGRAMME HOME

HOW TO BODY-ROW:

We do Body-Rows twice in The Strength Sessions programme. In both month’s 3 and 4.

This month (month 3), we go for records — there are no Chin Ups in this month so you’ll have extra strength for this move.

In Month 4, it’s more of a practice, with less reps total, longer static holds and more practice and perfectionism required.

You may well want to use these as a substitute if you struggle with Chin Ups on one of the other months too (if you have the setup for them).

HOW TO DO IT (THE BASICS)

GRAB A BAR – Or some gymnastic rings or parrallel bars, or other suitable sturdy thing. Have the bit you pull on about waist height, that would be splendid.

START WITH YOUR ARMS LOCKED-OUT – and your chest up, and your body straight – legs bent if need be, see progressions below.

DRAW YOUR SHOULDERS BACK – to initiate the move. Get good at this or you’ll try and dominate the move with your arms when we want upper back to dominate affairs.

THEN PULL YOUR ELBOWS BACK – once we’ve initiated ther move through the shoulder blades, we keep our mind on moving the shoulder blades, but we start to drive the elbows back and behind us too.

SQUEEZE AT THE TOP – you will travel all the way up until your hands touch your ribs. TOUCH. It’s not easy but this is the dream. Once here, you will actively squeeze your shoulder blades in and your elbows back and towards each other. This will massively excite your Rear Delts and all your upper back musculature.

LOWER. STOP. REPEAT – then go down again and up again and down again and up again until you've done all yopur reps. Release your shoulder blades forwards slightly at the bottom (Protract them) then initiate with a slight Retraction. Getting good at this is the key to getting good at these.

THE PROGRESSIONS

First you will have selected your strength range according to which style of strength you are working this month. Next, you pick a grip style and body position that allows you to do the right amount of reps, while doing your best to vary your style each month you do these.

CHOOSE YOUR GRIP

UNDERHAND — easiest.

NEUTRAL — medium.

OVERHAND — Hardest.

SINGLE ARM AND PROGRESSIONS — Ok, these are the hardest. You can work through all the levels again single-arm!

CHOOSE YOUR BODY POSITION

BENT LEGS — easiest.

STRAIGHT LEGS — harder.

ELEVATED LEGS — more harderer.

HOW YOU PEOPLE MESS IT UP...

YOU SHRUG – If you’re a modern day human, a modern day human with an office job, a modern day human that hasn’t been taught carefully in the gymnasium, then you’re a high risk candidate for shrugging on these. If you have forward head posture at all – you’re bound to shrug at first. The trapezius muscles will take over the move and your upper back may well be a bit lazy and uncoordinated…

The fix – extreme care and focus to keep a long neck, keep the shoulders down and to generate a mind-muscle connection with the upper back musculature and shoulder blade retractors. Make sure you feel the muscles working and make sure that you get your shoulders right back. Practice light, don’t try for too many and build up really slowly if you struggle at first.

YOU DON’T RETRACT THE SHOULDER BLADES – They should be squeezed back down and together. At the top of the move they should be squeezing towards each other and into the spine as the chest comes up. Don't just pull with your arms and be lazy with the upper back.

YOU DONT GET THE SHOULDERS BACK – If the above errors happen, the shoulders won’t have been pulled back enough. You must feel the whole glenohumeral joint (the bit the arm connects to) being pulled backwards.

YOU DON’T BEND THE ARMS ENOUGH – If you end up hands down by your waist somewhere, you haven’t let the biceps get involved enough. We want about 90 degrees of bending at the elbow.

YOU AVOID THE WORK – If the body doesn’t remain straight (typically the hips sag), you’ve subconsciously shifted your weight so you don’t have to lift it. The only movement should be at the shoulder, elbow and shoulder blades. Not the torso. Naughty.

WICKED CUES!

PUT YOUR SHOULDER BLADES IN YOUR BACK POCKET – Please oh, please, do not take this one literally. It’s a visualisation trick. ‘The Scaps’, pulled down and inwards is our goal. Imagine pulling them towards your back pocket can be a very useful thought. Try it.

CRUSH YOUR SPINE – Squeeze the upper back muscles in towards the spine hard.

CLOSE THE BOOK – Imagine your back is closing up behind you like a hard back book.

SHOW YOUR CHEST OFF – like Arnold. Or Pamela. Whatever works for you.

STAY STRAIGHT. LIKE A PENCIL – so you’re body doesn’t move around while you’re going up and down. Takes a bit of core strength, but not that much.

WHY DO IT TO YOURSELF?!

UPPER BACK AND BICEPS – Get really strong at this and you get really strong upper back and bicep muscles. Good.

BUILD GREAT POSTURE – this move is important for strength, but it's also going to help improve your posture – if you do it right.

ALTERNATIVES...

If you don’t have the equipment, or you struggle to hold your head in line / get neck pain on these, you may need to change them up. If that’s you, the best alternatives (other than seeing a physio about your weak or overactive neck), as ever in order of preference, are these:

--> BACK SUPPORT

—> EXTRA CHIN UPS

—> DUMBBELL ROWS

—> GYM HORIZONTAL ROW MACHINE

—> BICEP WORK

—> RESISTANCE BAND ROWS

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