1 Arm Row Toward a Bigger and Stronger Back

     In Saturday’s post I mentioned how making your upper-back stronger can help to improve your bench.  One of my favorite exercises for improving upper-back size and strength is the 1 arm row.  When the movment is done properly (check out the video) it requires a great amount of work from the lats, the biggest and strongest muscles in your back.  It also requires a big range of motion by the scapulas, helping to keep your shoulders healthy.  Chris and I have experimented with the 1 arm row pretty frequently and we came up with a progression that works well to improve the size and thickness of your upper-back while simultaneously improving strength.  You will do three sets each time you do the exercise on one of your upper-body lifting days or after deadlifting.  The first set will essentially work as a warm up, you’ll pick a weight that you could get for around 15 reps and do it for a set of 8.  The second set is the real deal.  For this set you’ll pick a weight that is really freakin’ heavy and get it for at least 3 reps.  You will stick with this weight each time you do the exercise until you can get it comfortably for 6 reps with great form.  Our last set is not for the faint of heart.  For this set, you will find a weight that in your mind you could only see yourself getting 8 times and make sure that you get at least 12 reps with it.  I know I sound crazy, and I just might be, but it will make you super-bad ass and it works.  So turn the music up and gut it out.  You will stick with this weight until you can get it for 15 reps comfortably with great form.  So, here is what the progression looks like. 1 x 8 (warm up with a lightish weight), 1 x at least 3 (a weight that is super heavy working with that weight until you can get it for 6 reps), 1 x at least 12 (a weight you think you can get for 8, push to 12 and stick with that weight until you hit a goal of 15 reps).  Try this progression out for a few training cycles and you won’t be disappointed.

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Chris Merritt

Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA

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