The row is one of the basic human movements that should be included in all training programs. I would even go so far as to say it’s essential yet very much ignored. It’s also probably one of the most butchered movements, the poor thing.
Everyone likes to work the “mirror muscles” (the front side) and we tend to drift away from training the backside as fervently as we do the front, mostly because usually those exercises are harder so, naturally, we don’t like to do them.
However, rowing creates a powerful upper back that a) makes you stronger in general, all the power comes from the back of you, b) prevents shoulder injuries by stabilizing the shoulder blade and maintaining a healthy scapulohumeral rhythm (fancy way of saying how your shoulder blade moves on your rib cage in conjunction with your arm bone), and c) provides a solid foundation from which you can bench more weight. Oh, what was that? A strong back means a stronger bench?
With all that in mind, here’s a video outlining some of the most common row technique flaws that plague weight rooms everywhere.
Don’t squinch your shoulders up towards your ears.
Don’t crank your shoulder blade down into your back pocket.
Both those movement patterns only feed into dysfunction: shoulder impingement and lower back hyperextension/back pain, respectively.
We want to see scapular retraction, as if you’re pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades as you row.
Even if you have great retraction, if you don’t allow your scapulae to glide forward as you extend your arm, it becomes a horizontal bicep curl and doesn’t really help improve your back muscles’ strength.