Spinal Stabilization 03: Seated One Arm Row

At PPT we love to work the core while also strengthening major muscle groups.  This forms the base of our training style and what we do best, functional-resistance-training.  The third and last exercise in this series is the Functional One Arm Row.

Let’s first review what stabilization is, spinal stabilization is simply keeping the spine at neutral while applying stress to the bod.  Neutral refers to its natural state, maintaining it’s natural curves without flexing/extending, rotating or side bending.  In order to accomplish this the core musculature needs to engage isometrically, firing the muscles without movement.  Though there is no movement, muscles need to fire more or less to stabilize while the stress is being applied.  If you vary these stressors often your core will be functionally ready for most of what life, your sport or activity, brings.

The primary core muscle used is the transverse abdominis (TA).  The TA is the the first muscle engaged when initiating just about any movement.  Having a strong and endurable TA helps prevent injuries and improve sport performance.  The other core muscles that are isometrically active in this exercise are internal and external oblique, multifidus and other spinal stabilizers and the spinal erectors.  There are primary movers that also attach at the spine or apply indirect forces to it and are considered: quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, hip flexors, glutes, etc. As you can see, there is a lot going on to stabilize the core.

The one arm row seams to be a simple variation of a two arm row at first, but quickly becomes more complex because of spinal rotation.  When doing a traditional two arm row the resistance wants your spine to flex forward, along with your hips. When changing the movement to one arm the resistance also wants to turn you.  Often, you will see people rotating their torso while doing a one arm row. This variation is not wrong at all, but much easier, allowing for more weight to be lifted and is more susceptible to injury.  We choose to stabilize the spine, allowing no spinal rotation. Spinal stability can best be seen by checking the shoulders, they should stay square over the hips.

To be functional, we believe the rowing should be done seated.  We are strongest doing a horizontal row seated, not standing.  Proper form is important.  The two most important variables are keeping your upper body stable and your forearm in line with the resistance.

Start with a straight elbow.  As you pull the forearm should align with the cable, do not curl the weight.  The cable should follow a straight line with the forearm. This will promote proper muscular strength of the rotator cuff and stabilization of the shoulder joint.  This is very difficult and many people will internally rotate at the shoulder bringing the handle into the body and/or flaring the elbow outward. This shows overactive internal rotation and poor form.   Note: vary the cable angle and grip position to hit different parts of your back and upper arm.  (It might be a good idea to have a trained professional check your form).

Check out the video and please feel free to reach out to me with any comments or questions.  Thank you.