An Exercise You Need To Try: Dumbbell Bent Over Rows

I got a comment from a reader this morning on my post about the FDA’s “My Plate”.  She reminded me of a great movie looking at the food industry and what exactly happens to our food between the time it’s grown/raised and when it reaches our plates.  It’s quite frightening actually, and makes a strong case for eating locally grown meats, fruits and veggies.

The movie is Food Inc., and if you haven’t checked it out, be sure to.  It’s definitely worth your time as well as incredibly interesting/frustrating.  It changed the way my wife and I do some of our shopping as well as how we approach our food in general.

SPOILER ALERT: Satan himself has a company and it’s called Monsanto.

I’ve said this before, but I see all kinds of things in the gym that make me want to stick forks in my eyes.  Guys who want to get “hyooooge” moving minimal weight between 6 minute rest periods filled with flexing their guns and watching Sportscenter.  Women spending 20 minutes on the thigh adductor machine because they want to lose that “pesky inner thigh jiggle”.  Twelve year old kids who can’t do a single pull-up doing 15 sets of bicep curls.  And on and on….

However the one that gets me the most frustrated is seeing people perform exercises with atrocious form.

One of the most common exercises I see done incorrectly is the Dumbbell Bent Over Row.

I’ve mentioned here about the importance of rowing for good posture, to help combat the aches and pains that come from our sedentary lifestyles.  However, when this exercise is done incorrectly, the efficacy of it is minimized, resulting in only a boost in ego and less than optimal results.

Here are some common mistakes that people make with Bent Over Rows:

-People tend to do this with too much weight, which results in a good amount of rotation in the shoulders and thoracic spine.  No bueno.

-Along with shoulder and thoracic rotation, people tend to let their hips flare open as they pull, resulting in lumbar rotation.

-Looking up (usually so someone can see how “awesome” they are in the mirror in front of them) pulls the neck out of neutral alignment and can put stress in the cervical spine.

-People pull the weight to their armpits, turning the movement into a strange bicep curl rather than a row.

As you can see, a lot of the problems arise when the spine begins to rotate.  To fix this make sure you keep your chest squared up with the bench as well as keeping it “out”.  This will keep your back flat and keep you from rotating.

A few other cues are:

-Keep your head down, looking at the floor.

-Pull the weight towards the hip.  This results in greater recruitment of the muscles in the back-where it should be.

-Make sure you “pull” the shoulder blade of the working side in towards the spine.

You may have to drop a little weight for a bit, but the results will pay off in the long run.  Check your ego at the door, row correctly and know that your doing yourself a huge favor.


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