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The Core & Back Move You Never Knew You Were Doing Wrong

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

Many of us have been exercising for most of our lives (thanks Title IX). But sometimes, seemingly obvious moves need a tune-up. Over the next several blog posts, we'll dive into a series of moves that you never knew you were doing wrong. This edition covers Renegade Rows.

Renegade Rows, also known as plank rows or prone iso-ab + back, are seeminghly straightforward exercises that are often performed improperly. By "seemingly straightforward," I mean that it's a plank hold with a row to the ribcage. Easy, right? Not really. Many of us perform plank rows, focusing solely on the row and ignoring the hips. Trainers reading this post, take note: we need to be aware of clients who shift the hips from sagittal to transverse planes while performing this exercise. Unfortunately, it's not often the case.

Simply put, your "core muscles" are all of the structures that support your spine and pelvis. Because you have a core, your upper and lower body can move independently of one another. For instance, your upper body can rotate while your lower body stays still- and visa versa! Trainers, you should have your clients to do some "anti-rotation" exercises to train a stronger, more stable core. This means in moves where the hips want to rotate because the upper body is flexing/extending/rotating, train your clients to keep their hips stationary. It takes mind-body awareness to do this because your hips and shoulders prefer to work in tandem.

Renegade Rows are very challenging to perform as an anti-rotation exercise. Let's face it, your body is horizontal, so when you lift a balance point (lift a hand to perform a row), it is a legit balancing test to keep your hips from moving, too. This is why you have to recruit mental focus along with core strength and stability. Most likely, you will get a teeny bit of movement in the hips as you row, and the heavier the weight used for the row, the harder the shift will be to control. For that reason, you should start performing renegade rows with no weight and work on eliminating the rotation at the hips. Once the movement is performed with no rotation, it is time to progress to a light weight in hand. Eventually, add a heavy weight, but do so in a quadruped position ("all 4's") so you can keep the hips still. With patience, time, training, and effort, you will eventually be able to engage the powerhouse core and perform Renegade Rows with a heavy load and with very little movement in the hips.

Step 1: Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your feet hips-width apart, belly facing down. Tighten your abs and clench your glutes. Hold steady "high plank."

Step 2: Maintain the posture described in Step 1, burt lift one hand from the ground and pull the hand to the bottom of your ribcage. Try to minimize or eliminate shifts in the hips.

About the Author

Brook Benten, M.Ed., is an ACSM Exercise Physiologist. This Texas girl has been trailblazing fitness for two decades. She champions continuing education and has impacted the field as an executive director of healthy living, CEC provider, fitness magazine writer, campus recreation fitness director, and workout video star. Brook is a presenter for SCW Fitness at SCW MANIA conventions and "Train with the Trainers" livestream weekly workouts. She is a lifestyle columnist for Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Benten is an ambassador for Power Music and Lebert Fitness; she is among an international team of six Master Trainers for Johnny G Spirit Bike.

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