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Rowing For Athletes | Maximize Your Strength & Performance

Posted by Kostas Kroustaloudis on

Rowing For Athletes | Maximize Your Strength & Performance

What’s up Gronk Fitness!

The Pendlay Row is an exercise that doesn’t really get a lot of love in the gym…or anywhere else for that matter. Mostly advanced athletes and seasoned lifters are the only people you might see utilizing this exercise to its full potential during their pull workouts.

Now, if you are an athlete, odds are, you are after peak athletic performance. What a shocker! If that’s the case, T-bar Rows, Weighted Pull-Ups, Bent-Over Rows and stuff like that are fine but NOT optimal. The best exercise you can possible do that will carry over to your performance in the field or court is the Pendlay Row.

What’s So Great About The Pendlay Row

What’s so great about the pendlay row, is it’s really going to force you to recruit as much muscle fiber as possible to perform the movement, because each repetition comes from a dead stop.

Even if you’re doing a bent-over row, you can still utilise a bit of moment, or energy that you’ve built because the weight is always moving up and down until you finish all of your reps in your set. When you do a pendlay row, you pull as much weight as you can off the ground, throw the weight back down on the ground, and wait for everything to settle before you go again. It’s just like a deadlift. When you deadlift, you’re supposed to wait until the weight becomes completely dead before going into your next repetition. This is why it’s much harder to lift heavier weight when you stop after each rep instead of bouncing. Bouncing makes things much easier.

How To Perform A Pendlay Row

The way you perform a pendlay row is by bending over and keeping your upper body as parallel as possible to the ground. You’re going to grab the barbell with about a shoulder width grip, and as soon as you’re in place, with as much force, as much energy as possible, you’re going to explosively rip the barbell off the ground, and thrust it into your torso. The area between your chest and belly button is going to be your strike zone.

After you hit your torso, you’re going to fight the negative on the way down. The weight is still going to drop pretty quickly, but you want to fight it as much as you can, and focus on tensing and flexing your back while doing the movement.

One thing to keep in mind when doing a pendlay row, is that you don’t want the force to be coming from your hands. DO NOT pull with your hand. You want to get as much of your back involved as possible, and for those of you with poor mind-muscle connection, you’ll want to visualize pulling through your elbow, your back and your lats. If you wanted to, you could use some wrist straps to make sure you’re not gripping so hard that you start pulling with your hands.

Proper Form Is Overrated!

Proper form for the Pendlay Row means being as parallel as possible to the ground with your upper body. However, when you introduce some “cheating” to your reps, you will start to stand up quite a bit, and that’s OK. You’re still explosively pulling the weight off the ground, and you’re still controlling the eccentric portion of the movement. The weight is still going to fall rapidly after each rep, but you’re still controlling is as much as possible.

All that extra weight you can lift from using a bit of momentum to thrust it into the air and then control down, that’s what’s going to overload your back. That’s what’s going to help you see more strength gains and more muscle gains in the long run.

Final Thoughts

So, again, if you’re after athletic performance and functionality, you NEED to incorportate this movement into your workouts. In fact, it will best serve you as your first or second exercise of your pulling routine. Do at least 3 – 4 sets, try to rest at least 60 – 90 seconds between sets and as always…get your mind right.


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