Move of the Week: 3-pt Dead-stop Row

The weather is changing fast here in New York, and it looks like warm weather has had its last hurrah. But we’re still here for Move of the Week!

THE MOVE: 3-pt Dead-stop Row

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal pull; upper and mid back, lats, core.

WHY DO IT: Rows are an important part of strength-training here at Halevy Life. Thankfully, there are also an infinite number of ways to do them. Barbell rows, chest-supported rows, landmine rows, inverted rows–you name it. Today’s move is one of the infinite, and there are a couple of things I like about it.

The first and perhaps most important of these is the dead-stop part. Essentially, the dead-stop keeps you honest during the row by encouraging a full range of motion and forcing you to reset for every rep. By doing so, you must “lock-in” and set-up in a proper position for every rep.

This concept is the same as in deadlifting for reps. In the deadlift, letting the barbell come to a dead stop and resetting before each rep is way different from doing reps touch and go. I won’t say that one is wrong and the other is right, but the former is definitely harder and keeps trainees more honest. You can’t take advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle (the elastic rebound you get when you come out of the bottom of a squat, for example) and momentum from previous reps when you come to a dead stop.

Since every rep starts and ends at the floor, a full range of motion is encouraged. There’s more distance to cover, and thus, more work that needs to be done during the row.

Finally, the 3-point position adds another layer of difficulty to this Move. Akin to last week’s Move, your core must fight hard to prevent rotation imparted by the dumbbell/kettlebell and keep your torso square with the floor. You’ll find that you’ll have to actively push away from the bench with your non-working hand in order to maintain the integrity of the bent-over position. More on that when we discuss technique below.

HOW TO DO IT: Set up by crouching over a bench with your non-working hand pressing into the bench. This should mimic a deadlift position with your shins vertical, butt back , and torso in a neutral position. Some of you might feel your hamstrings slightly stretched–that’s okay.

As far as the positioning goes, you want your rowing arm fully outstretched with the kettlebell/dumbbell on the floor. A good rule of thumb is that in this bottom position, you should feel a slight stretch behind your shoulder blade. That’s how you know your shoulder blade is protracted. Depending on your anthropometry, you may have to readjust your bent-over position or use a lower or higher implement, like an adjustable aerobic step. Or, switch from a kettlebell to dumbbell to increase the distance you’ll have to cover.

With this position in check, get tight and brace your abs. During the row think about pulling your elbow to your butt and pulling your shoulder blade back towards your spine, almost as if you’re starting up a lawnmower. Lower the weight all the way to the floor and let it come to a dead stop. Reset your positioning and repeat for reps.

You also want to push away from the bench with your non-working arm during the set. This will prevent your torso from collapsing inward towards the bench.

Done correctly, you should feel this in you upper and mid back, as well as your lats. As our colleague Dean Somerset would say, if you don’t feel your lats, you’re not rowing the right way.

The 3-pt Deadstop Row is great for building strength, and as such, I would use this exercise for 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps/side. These should be hard but humbling, even if you use less weight than you’re used to for normal rows. You definitely want to make sure you’re feeling this in the right places! The dead stop will do that for you. Try this out to keep your rows honest, and let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau Halevy Life Staff CoachJeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.