Proper form for seated rows

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    Apr 21, 2011 6:17 PM GMT
    So I was instructed by a random older gentleman at the gym that I should spread my shoulder blades and let my shoulders curl forwards during the stretch on the seated row. It seemed counterintuitive to me that that would be good form. Normally I keep my shoulders back and back straight and do a nice slow, controlled movement. However, I took his advice -- figured he was doing me a favour. Now my upper back is quite sore between my shoulder blades, and I've never had a problem there before. Did he give bad advice or am I just sore from hitting the muscle differently? If it was bad, I don't want to repeat it.
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    Apr 22, 2011 3:24 AM GMT
    His method is not something I would use on myself or my clients.
    This is how I instruct my clients. Sit on the bench, lean forward and grab the handles and put your feet in the foot rests. Straighten your legs slightly (assuming your knees are bent) so that you don't have to worry about hitting the tops of your knees. Slowly sit up nice and straight, engage your abs so that you are not rocking at the waist. Relax the shoulders down so that you are not shrugging. Squeeze the shoulder blades together toward the spine like you are trying to pinch a pencil between them (Scapular retraction) and an isometric contraction. Pull the handles toward your sternum, in a controlled movement, hold briefly, then allow your arms to extend but don't lock out your elbows. Do this while maintaining the scapular retraction.
    As long as you are keeping your core engaged and not rocking at the waist to move the weight, I don't see anything wrong with his instruction, but I don't like to see that much scapular movement in someone unfamiliar with weight training.
    Usually when you change things up you are going to feel a little sore.
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    Apr 22, 2011 7:15 AM GMT
    It depends, if I understand you correctly it isn't wrong but it might not be the best way for you.

    From what you describe he didn't tell you to arch your back or round your back over but to simply let your shoulder most forward slightly. If this is the case then no he didn't give you bad advice. It's a larger prestretch then what you would be accustomed too.

    If you are new I would stay away from that right now and just work on maintaining good form and increasing weights or repetitions. If you've been lifting weights for more then a year consistently you can begin to progress into a deeper pre-stretch which will naturally involve your shoulders begining to move forward slightly.

    But also perform any and every moment and rep under control and with good form. Neutral spine (ie, natural curvature) a strong core, and following a good range of motion.

    Your upper back will feel sore if you are not accustomed to that deep a prestretch.
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    May 18, 2011 3:58 PM GMT
    Anomalous saidHis method is not something I would use on myself or my clients.
    This is how I instruct my clients. Sit on the bench, lean forward and grab the handles and put your feet in the foot rests. Straighten your legs slightly (assuming your knees are bent) so that you don't have to worry about hitting the tops of your knees. Slowly sit up nice and straight, engage your abs so that you are not rocking at the waist. Relax the shoulders down so that you are not shrugging. Squeeze the shoulder blades together toward the spine like you are trying to pinch a pencil between them (Scapular retraction) and an isometric contraction. Pull the handles toward your sternum, in a controlled movement, hold briefly, then allow your arms to extend but don't lock out your elbows. Do this while maintaining the scapular retraction.
    As long as you are keeping your core engaged and not rocking at the waist to move the weight, I don't see anything wrong with his instruction, but I don't like to see that much scapular movement in someone unfamiliar with weight training.
    Usually when you change things up you are going to feel a little sore.


    As a trainer myself, this is great advice!
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    Jun 02, 2011 1:58 AM GMT
    I think that's the ideal form, actually. For rows, it's ideal to work through the maximum range of motion. If you're just starting with this, I'd drop the weight down a little first. It's a slightly tougher motion than without the shoulder "release", and as the other posters have stated, form is the most important thing.