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By Bruce Burke and Ryan Burke

Last Updated: 5/28/23

When we bring an object closer to our body, we are typically performing a “rowing” motion. Whether to open/close doors, get the lawn mower started, or bring our grandchildren in for a hug, rowing is necessary for our activities of daily living. This week’s Focus Point will discuss the value of the row and teach you how to perform it correctly.

Why are rows important?

Similar to the lat pulldown, rows strengthen the shoulder and back muscles, but with a horizontal pull towards the chest.  As well as playing a major role in correcting the rounded shoulder posture associated with too much sitting, rows help stabilize the spine.

Different variations of the row will slightly change the emphasis of the exercise. For example, seated rows allow you to focus on the movement itself, TRX (or inverted) rows require your entire body to be engaged, and single arm rows are great for working rotational stability.

How to row.

No matter what row variation you are performing, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Start with the arms extended and shoulders pulled down and back.
  • Initiate the pull with the shoulder blades coming together, not the elbows pulling back.
  • Do not arch the low back at any time.
  • Maintain a neutral neck position; do not allow your head to drop or “gooseneck”.
  • Pinch the shoulder blades together at the top of the pull.
  • As you return back to the starting position, be sure to control the weight down, do not let it drop.

With good form, the row can be perfect for either corrective exercise or intensity. This is why the row is great for anyone’s program!  Talk with your trainer about which rowing variety is appropriate for you.