Move of the Week: Chest-supported Row w/ Opposite Arm Iso Hold

I don’t want you guys to end up with your shoulders rounded forward from last week’s bench press, so in order to balance it out, I have almost no choice but to feature a row today. Enjoy it! 

THE MOVE: Dumbbell Chest-supported Row w/ Opposite Arm Iso Hold

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal pulling pattern: lats, upper and mid back.

WHY DO IT: Today’s MotW has a long name, but it’s actually quite simple in execution. Of the countless rowing variations that exist, the chest-supported row (CSR) has remained one of my favorites over time. This Move is in our current SureFit block, and it adds a little flare to the standard bilateral variation that we like and have featured before.

Unlike the landmine meadows row and the barbell row where you have to maintain a neutral spine in free space, the chest-supported position allows you to focus on one thing and one thing only: rowing the weights. There’s still a core stability aspect here, as you want to brace against the bench and create a nice solid torso so that your shoulder blades can glide smoothly on your ribcage during the row–that’s where the movement is coming from.

It’s well understood that rows are great for building the back. In this instance, the isometric hold of the non-working arm adds an additional challenge. Many people, myself included, absolutely hate holding a heavy weight isometrically; do you remember our pause back squat from a while ago? This increases your time under tension, which results in metabolic stress, or that burning sensation in your upper and mid-back muscles. If you want “definition” or “tone” in your back, this might as well be a one-way ticket to get it. Personally, I like the hold because it’s a good diagnostic tool for people to really feel this exercise in the right places. Finally, with one arm holding and the other rowing, there’s an anti-rotation component for the core here, too.

HOW TO DO IT: For this exercise, set up on a inclined bench and press your chest against the bench, with the balls of your feet pressed into the floor. Start by rowing both weights up to the top position, thinking about pinching your shoulder blades together behind your back.

While holding one dumbbell up in an isometric hold the entire time, row with the opposite arm. Think about initiating the row from the shoulder blade and bringing your elbow to your back pocket. Done correctly your shoulder blades will glide smoothly back and forth on the ribcage, from full protraction at the bottom to full retraction at the top.

You should feel this in your lats, and your mid and upper back; not in the front of your shoulder.

For this CSR variation, I’d recommend 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps. As with the bilateral CSR, you want to go heavy here, but the isometric hold in today’s move will keep you honest. Try this out if you’re looking to add a challenge to the CSR, 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.’