This week’s favorite exercise is the cable back rows. I keep a slight bend in my knees and that helps me know how far back to sit on the bench. The key to this exercise is to keep your back in an upright position the entire time. Many times I see people leaning forward and backward with the torso as the arms row. The goal is to keep the torso stationary. I also put an arch in my lower back and pop my chest up and out. This helps my arms and back do the work and keeps me from slouching forward.
It has taken me at least 12 months to get a good mind-muscle connection in my lats. This exercise will help to build thickness in the back muscles. The way I like to think of this exercise is when the arms are fully extended at the start of the rep, I tend to flare my lats (upper back). As I row backwards with my elbows close to my side, I slide my scapula (shoulder blades) down and in and try to activate those back muscles to do the work. You will use some of your arms and maybe shoulders, but ultimately the goal is to use the back on a row.
When you are in the middle of the rep in the contracted state, pause and squeeze the muscle before returning it SLOWLY to the starting position. Your slow return is when you are keeping the muscle under tension and doing the work of the exercise, so don’t zip back too fast or you’re missing out on the benefit of the row.
If the cable row is occupied, you can also do this standing at the dual cable station or sitting on the ground as well. A row is effective on any machine. I like to do 3 sets of 10-12 reps pretty heavy in nature, so by the time I get to that last rep, I’m near failure. I’ve also supersetted these with lat pull downs or even some bicep and tricep exercises if I am short on time. Gotta love a strong back and these rows will do it!
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