Great Exercises Done Wrong – The Prone Row

If you know anything about me you’ll know that I’m a stickler for details. Because if you’re going to do something it only makes sense to do it right.

Exercise Done Wrong to Combat Sitting

When we train there are a number of key exercises that would benefit just about everyone. And this has to do with the fact that we sit more now than we ever have before.

Why do I think we sit more? With urban sprawl commutes are longer than they once were. And even if the commute isn’t any longer very few people walk or bike to work. Communities have to hold special week long events just to encourage a minority of people to dust off the Schwinn in the garage and bike to work or school for the week.

But beyond the commute working against us we are also more plugged in and feel we need to have access to a desk and chair. Add to that the number of gaming options, the proliferation of online video rentals, longer hours sitting at work and school and it’s pretty easy to see that we would benefit from some anti-sitting exercises.

In addition to exercises that will reverse the effects of too much sitting most of us would benefit from additional pulling exercises. Guys especially tend to have shoulder issues and also like to talk about how they can bench. This puts additional demand on the shoulders and leads to more problems.

So the fix might be to step away from the bench and instead put more emphasis on pulling weight to the body rather than pressing it away. One great exercise to achieve this is the prone row.

Fixing Exercise Done Wrong

To perform this exercise you need a pair of dumbells that would be about 50% of what you might use for a one arm dumbbell row. So if an individual used an 80 lbs dumbbell for 1 arm row they could try the prone with 40 lbs. The only condition is that the form and technique must be good as on the first rep as the last. So check the ego and start with less weight at first if that helps.

Once you’ve got the weights you’ll use position yourself in a push up position. The dumbbells are placed besides the ribs, so below the shoulders and above hips, with the handles parallel to the body. This allows for a neutral, and more natural, hand position.

With the hands on the handles and in the up position of a push up, pull one hand to the body. The hand should should end up beside the ribs, again below the shoulder and above the hips.

The key is to move the arm but nothing else in the body. What typically happens is that in order to generate a force in one part of the body we compensate and cheat else where. Common cheats include:
* dropping the head

Exercise done wrong 2 ways. 1 the head drops. 2. Increased arch in the low back.

Exercise done wrong 2 ways. 1. The head drops. 2. Increased arch in the low back.

* shifting the hips in the frontal plane
* rotating the hips in the transverse plane
* un-weighting the opposite leg

And so here’s how to ensure that you are not compensating and cheating while performing this exercise.
* Place a dowel or foam roller along the length of the spine. The dowel should contact the glutes, shoulders and head. A coach may have to hold the dowel in place which then provides provides proprioceptive feedback that the contact points are being maintained.
* When someone shifts in the frontal plane you will see their hips and torso move to the side. The way to prevent this and provide feedback is to place a foam roller on end beside the hips. The key is to snug the foam up tightly against the hips so there is not wiggle room. As soon as there is lateral shifting in the hips or torso the foam roller will get knocked over.
* If one hip lifts and the other drops the foam roller on the back will roll off the back. Even with the coach holding it will be easy to identify when there is excessive rotational motion.
* When performing this lift the contralateral leg will typically unload when a force is generated in the upper body. What this means is that if I were to pull with my right arm by left leg will have less force into the ground. To correct for this the coaching cue would be to hook the opposite leg under the shin with the toes. This will cause the whole leg to lift easily off the ground. Cue the client to resist letting you lift the leg off the ground.

The easiest way to picture this is the arm that is pulling the weight is the only part of the body that should be moving. Any shifting, rotating or other movement noise indicates the load is too heavy and you need to dial it back a touch.

Chris [fb-like]



4 Responses to Great Exercises Done Wrong – The Prone Row

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m having trouble visualizing this. I think you should post a picture of someone doing it at the gym!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Also great idea for a blog series. I’m really interested to see what’s coming. I’m always looking to improve my form when training.

    • Chris says:

      Awesome Jen. Thanks for the feedback. I agree. I think it will be a great series as many people ‘learn’ new exercises but unforunately make a mistake along the way which undermines the effectiveness.


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