Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Dumbbell Row

The Dumbbell Row has got to be one of the few good exercises bodybuilding has given us. At my gym it still carries a certain amount of stigma; however, as a tool for developing balanced strength across the shoulder girdle, it is invaluable. Most people are much stronger at 'pushing' or 'pressing' than they are at 'pulling'. Coupled with poor posture throughout the day, this leads to tight, strong pectorals and other large internal rotators of the shoulder, coupled with long, weak scapular retractors such as the middle and low fibres of trapezius.

Correctly performed Rows involve retraction and some depression of the scapula, followed immediately by humeral extension to bring the dumbbell (or kettlebell, 3 litre bottle of milk, etc) toward the lower chest and abdomen. It's important to emphasise the shoulder blade should be pulled back and down; if you are shrugging the scapula up and hyperextending the humerus, you won't recruit the lower fibres of trapezius. The elbow will not travel far behind the torso if done right. In fact, the degree the arm moves doesn't actually matter. It just allows people to get a bit of momentum going, allowing training of scapular retraction with heavier weights.
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Do this exercise right and load it up. Sets of 10-20 with 40kg or more will build excellent strength in the lower traps and correct imbalances across the shoulder girdle. If it's good enough for the ridiculously successful Chinese weightlifting team, it's good enough for you.

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