Over the last several weeks, I’ve talked about many exercises that utilize little or no weight, all of which challenge the body to stabilize itself in movement. If utilized properly, they can help establish a strong foundation of basic movement skills, strength and endurance which can help in more advanced movements that challenge the athlete later in their development.
An excellent pulling exercise which my athletes use frequently is the Body Row. The Body Row is essentially a reverse push-up; your body is horizontal and stable in both movements, but instead of pushing yourself up and down off the floor in a push-up, you are pulling yourself up and down from a bar in a Body Row. It requires the arms, shoulders and back to have excellent strength and endurance and the torso to have good strength endurance to maintain a stable position. As with any exercise, make sure you consult a qualified trainer and your physician before implementing into your program.
With the Body Row, set up a barbell on a squat rack about waist high, maybe even a few inches higher. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart on the bar and hang below the bar. Place your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent at 90-degrees and keep your hips up, creating a flat, stable torso.
Pull yourself up to the bar slowly and in control without using a “swinging” of the torso for momentum, hold for a second, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
Once you can master this exercise, you can practice it with a single leg stance, keeping the pelvis and torso flat and stable throughout the motion. A more challenging position has your feet on a stability ball during the movement. Once you have progressed to that exercise, have someone stand near your feet and spot you, ensuring that your feet don’t roll off the side of the ball, until you can perform the exercise with good technique.