Lee Boyce is a Toronto-based strength coach who helps clients and athletes reach strength and conditioning, sports performance, and hypertrophy goals. In his new column, Basics Made Better, he'll help you tweak classic exercises to squeeze out even more muscle gain. Follow him on Instagram.
One of the most important functions of the core isn’t actually that of creating movement, the way you would in a crunch, sit up or knee raise. It’s actually that of resisting unwanted movement. The concept is called anti-rotation. And if you come to this website often, you know plenty about it.
You’ve probably spent plenty of time doing renegade rows, too, because this plank-based exercise generally helps you train that anti-rotation, and, in theory, it can build you a rock-solid core. But the standard plank-based version of the renegade row quite simply isn’t the best version of the move. Why? There’s too much room for error.
Enter the Bear Plank Renegade Row, the perfect fix. So here’s the problem with the standard renegade row: It creates too much room for error. You often can’t determine whether you want it to be a back exercise or a core exercise, so you wind up lifting too much weight. That results in a jerky pattern and a big twist or shift of your hips, which isn’t ideal.
The second problem: Shoulder glide. Shoulder glide can be simplified to the shoulder joint not remaining centralized in its socket. Combine poor pulling mechanics and heavy loads, and this can happen. Classic, heavy renegade rows can often make it harder to properly set the shoulder and get a good-quality pull. So you wind up arching your lower back, defeating the whole purpose of the lift.
Starting in a bear stance – that’s with the knees bent instead of straight – is a game-changer for renegade row quality. This simple change places the pelvis in a posterior tilt, which is a much more favourable position to create and maintain a neutral spine through the entire set. Simply put, it’s much harder to overarch the low back when your knees are bent.
As a result, your focus stays on your abs and obliques, and with the right weight (translation: Don’t lift too heavy), you can get great quality rows on each side. This is a rare movement that is both a regression for the standard renegade row, and a progression, too.
Doing RENEGADE ROWS from a BEAR STANCE position isn't only harder and more intense for the abs - it's also an easier way for you to assume the right lumbar posture and positioning. _ With the legs straight out behind, the typical first thing that happens to any lifter I see is back overarch. The pelvis enters anterior tilt, and the lifter has to find a way to keep the glutes and lower abs engaged enough to overcome this. This isn't easy in the presence of fatigue. _ Making the switch to bent knees posteriorly tilts the pelvis just enough for a neutral spine to be enforced, potentiating more lower abs involvement while leaving the glutes less involved. If the goal is core training, you've got a good hack. _ Break at the knees like The Protector. _ #strengthtraining #coretraining #coreworkout #abtraining #abworkout #abworkouts #coreexercises #abstrengthening #corestrengthening #coretraining #core #abs #absworkout #strengthandconditioning #bodybuilding #hypertrophy
A post shared by @ coachleeboyce on Nov 28, 2019 at 12:59pm PST
Here’s your game plan:
Start in a bear crawl position with your hands on dumbbells. Your back should be flat, wrists right below shoulders, knees about shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be bent and hovering over the ground. Keep them in line with your feet – don’t let them cave.
For stability, set your hands slightly narrower than your feet, just inside shoulder width.
Tighten your core and row the left dumbbell to your ribcage, making sure to squeeze your shoulder blade first. Battle to keeps hips and shoulders square to the ground as you do this.
Return the dumbbell to the bottom position, landing quietly. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps per side.
It’s a perfect move to blast your back and abs, just like the standard renegade row. You’ll have to go lighter for this move, obviously, but expect that same core-and-lat burn you’ve come to know and love from your renegade row.
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