What’s the single most difficult exercise to teach someone?
Fundamental movements: squat, bend, push, and pull.
Most problems in the gym can be stated simply. I don’t want your back to move around too much when you squat or bend. I want your shoulder blade to follow your arm when it moves.
“Fixing” a lower body “problem” can be difficult, but usually there’s a simple idea behind it. Get the hips in the right position and maintain balance.
Upper body pushing isn’t too bad; make sure you cue a full reach at the top.
Upper body pulling, however, is a bear. Lead with the shoulder blade, make sure the rib cage moves, don’t compensate with the spine (but still let it move a little), kill momentum, don’t shrug, pause at the top, don’t let the head flop around, where should the eyes look, bring your elbow away from your side (but not too far), count your reps, and try not to think about how many sweaty people have been on this bench since it was last cleaned.
Which brings us to this video.
This post is NOT for people looking to be told what to do. I want to give you a broad vision of rowing, how to coach it, and where it fits into a person’s entire training regimen. I don’t want you to rely on inaccurate, concrete progressions, but instead start to think through and problem solve for your clients (athletes and gen pop alike).
This post is NOT for people who are lost and don’t know what to do. This post is for people looking for a better way to do things.
- A short talk on how muscles hypertrophy (so we know what we need to do to get gains) [see more below]
- The variations I like to start with (and how to coach them)
- The variations I think are easiest to teach (good programming makes you a successful coach in the gym)
- The variations I think are most prone to error (make your clients earn their stripes before you give these to them)
- How you can tweak little positioning details to totally change the exercise (and get what you want out of it)
- Why I would have someone reach while they row (do you think I’d have everyone do it?)
- Everything you need to understand to keep your clients’ joints healthy (I just want to help you think about scapular movement, glenoid position, rib cage orientation, joint forces, and muscular anatomy at play)
- How to tell when the latissimus dorsi is taking over (and why that can be such an issue)
- The two different types of rowing mindsets (one that helps you get jacked and another that helps you feel better)
- How pull-ups fit into this equation (it’s the same only different)
- Thoughts on chin-ups vs pull-ups (sometimes I care what grip they use, sometimes I don’t)
I’m an anatomy nerd so take this with a grain of salt: honestly, I’ve found that knowing the anatomy has helped me coach this more than anything else. That and practicing it in my own training. Once you know all the pieces, it’s much easier to focus on just one of them at a time while still keeping the bigger picture in your mind.