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Back muscles owe most of their achievement to rowing exercises and pull ups. It is not a coincidence that rowing athletes and swimmers have developed excellent back muscles. The rowing movement requires the latissimus dorsi in order to maneuver the sculls. Rowing teams and other athletes have taken this movement into the gym and created one of the ultimate back exercises: the seated row.
This exercise triggers the largest back muscle, the latissimus dorsi, also known among athletes as the "wings" or "lats". Developing your lats improves your body both physically and structurally. Developed back muscles (upper and lower) will assist many other exercises like shoulder military press and most of your ab workouts!. In other words, a strong back is required to become strong in most other muscle groups. Are you ready?
Believe it or not, seated rowing exercises can be performed seated, standing or kneeling down. It all depends on the setup you have in your home or gym. Whichever style you choose is acceptable, as long as your back remains straight throughout the movement. No cheating! Remember, this is not an arm or shoulder exercise, so be sure to isolate those lats in order to achieve maximal results.
I usually prefer using a stability ball with resistance tubes over the machines (I'll explain later). Sit on the ball and grab the resistance tube. Position your body far enough so that the resistance tubes will have enough space to be pulled and stretched forward.
From the initial sitting straight-back position, pull the resistance tube toward your belly, but don't make contact. Return to initial position slowly. This is the "eccentric" portion of the movement. It has been proven that exaggeration of the eccentric movement will maximize results. Also, one of the big perks to using resistance bands is that fact that resistance increases as you stretch the bands further. Keep a straight back at all times for all rowing exercises!
Step 1: Sit on a stability ball with your back straight and grab the resistance tubing.
Step 2: Pull the resistant tubing toward your abs by isolating your back muscles.
Step 3: Return to initial position with your back straight. Remember to exaggerate the eccentric motion.
It is crucial for the exercises to maintain a straight back at all times. Work with your hands and not with your waist. Focus on isolating the back muscles throughout the movement! This is not an arm or shoulder exercise.
For starters, make three sets with 12, 10 and 8 repetitions. Exhale as you pull the resistance tubing and inhale as you bring them back to initial position.
As mentioned before, this exercise can be performed by standing or kneeling on the floor. If your gym has a rowing workout machine without the stability ball, you can use it as a replacement. I tend to advocate using the stability ball as this creates a complexity to the movement, requiring your nervous system and muscles to adjust/readjust as your balance shifts. In other words, it is very effective at creating a changing environment! Variability is key to any workout regimen in order to avoid a plateau effect.
The stability ball plays an important role in the exercise, as it attempts to maintain balance while sitting. The abs are those that do most of the balance maintenance, so in a way, they are working passively for you to be able to perform this exercise.
If there is a mirror, supervise your movements while doing the exercise as it will help you move the arms the way they should and to isolate your back muscles. Remember to maintain a straight back!
Many people slightly, and sub-consciously, bend the waist when pulling back the resistant tubing from its initial position. Try to avoid this! After several sets of practice, "muscle memory" will take over and, if you've been practicing good technique, your results will shine!
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