The Back Exercise Everyone Needs To Add To Their Workout
Make this back exercise a staple.
You know how important back strength is. A strong upper back is arguably one of the most important physical attributes for any athletic endeavor.
You can’t neglect upper-body “posterior chain” exercises and expect to perform your best on the field or in the gym. Without a solid base of strength in your upper back, you’ll never improve your Squat or Deadlift. And no matter how big your arms and chest are, you won’t Bench Press big numbers without a strong foundation from your lats and rhomboids.
Your posterior chain muscles – specifically your latissimus dorsi – are also one of the most important muscle groups for stabilizing your upper back, ribcage and shoulders. They’re critical for preventing back injuries and minimizing back pain – which is why they’re a staple in so many of the rehab exercise plans I give my patients at Ascent Chiropractic.
By the way, if you are a patient at Ascent, you’re doing your exercises, right?
Everyone respects pull-ups and lat pulldowns because they’re a reliable indicator of upper-body strength. But for whatever reason, no one seems to care as much about the more horizontal versions of these exercises: rows.
Most of us have done some variation of the inverted row with a bar in the squat rack. But that can be uncomfortable on the wrists and elbows, adjusting the rack to get the desired positions can be tedious and, well, the squat rack is for squatting.
A Better Alternative
Here’s the better alternative to inverted barbell rows: the horizontal row using TRX straps or a set of rings. It works the same muscles and is similarly difficult, just in a different plane. In fact, this type of row might be even more effective at building a stronger, more muscular back than lat pulldowns or pull-ups. A study from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College directly compared lat muscle activity on wide-grip pulldowns to that on rows. When subjects did rows, muscle activity of the lats was more than 40% greater than when they did wide-grip pulldowns.
Why Horizontal Rows?
Why is the TRX or “suspension trainer” horizontal row so effective? For one, it’s easy to quickly change the difficulty level, just by altering the position of your feet. Check out these progressions, from newbie to advanced:
If you have shoulder issues, the horizontal row tends to be a more friendly option than the pull-up. First, they hit all areas of the lats and rhomboids — as well as most other back muscles, such as the middle traps and teres major. Second, because it’s more horizontal instead of strictly vertical, it’s easier to keep your shoulder blades in a more comfortable/retracted position. And third, the handles can rotate independently, reducing stress on the shoulder and elbow joints.
Finally, the ease with which you can adjust the difficulty allows for sets done at high reps, low reps, paused reps, eccentrics and isometric holds. If you really want to up the intensity, you can always increase the load via a weighted vest.
Plus, unlike other muscle groups, the upper back can be trained frequently without negatively affecting your performance in the gym. Horizontal rows can really be added to any day in your workout program, not just your “pull day”.
Experiment and make sure you’re not missing the single most versatile upper-body pulling exercise available.
You’re stronger with chiropractic care!
A recent study from The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation reported that athletes who received chiropractic care exhibited up to a 16% increase in athletic performance after 12 weeks of regular treatments – testing strength, kinesthetic perception, reaction time, agility and balance.
Stronger is better… better stamina, better balance, better coordination, better performance in every area of your life. What will you do with more strength? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.