RTS Coaching: Reach AND Row


Chances are if you’ve pushed weight for any period of time, you’ve performed some dumbbell rowing variations.

The primary focus when rowing is obviously on the upper back, and getting a nice retraction through the shoulder blade.

However, I contend that we can get even more out of this exercise by actively reaching with the down arm. Let me explain a bit further…

Now that you’ve watched the video, here’s a quick recap:

  • When setting up, actively reach long with the down arm. It may help to think about pushing the body away from the bench, or making the arm as long as possible.
  • Cuing the reach will naturally engage not only the serratus anterior on the reaching side, but the abdominals as well. This is one of the biggest benefits of performing the exercise in this fashion.
  • Once the down arm and upper body are set, now perform the standard rowing exercise. Think about blending a combination of movement at the shoulder blade and the elbow to promote a smooth rowing action.
  • As set the goes on, make sure not to “hang” or “sag” on the supporting arm. Actively reach throughout the set.

While this is a very simple form tweak, I think it makes a huge difference in not only your stability, but also in regard to how much ROI you get from the exercise.

Give this a shot next time you’re in the gym – I think you’ll love it!

All the best




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  1. Nice video. Thanks, Mike. I’m going to show this to a friend who needs to see it. I find that dumbbell rows often degenerate into a set of throwing the weights around in the name of lifting heavier weights. Do you think that this exercise lends itself to poor form and poor habits more than others because of the fact that there is greater margin for error? In other words, it seems that bad form on a squat will result in injury quicker than bad form in a dumbell row.

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