The Plank Row is one of my favorite combination exercises because it works everything. Planks, in general, are a great starting point for work on core strength and stability, but adding in a row allows for additional focus on balance.
Using the Plank Row in your exercise routine can help:
Strengthen mid-back & core.
The Plank is a great way (for both beginners and advanced!) to work on core strength, as it utilizes all of the muscles of the abdomen to maintain stability. Adding in a row, focuses additionally on the latissimus dorsi (lats), one of the biggest muscles of the back. The lats are used largely in adduction of the arm (think pull-up or chin-up) but also in extension of the arm (swinging the arm back and forth, as in running)! Strengthening the back will help increase overall strength in many functional movements, but also in maintaining strength and efficiency in running.
Increase shoulder stability.
The shoulders factor into almost every aspect of daily life, whether you are cooking dinner or driving your car. Stable shoulders are strong shoulders and are incredibly important in maintaining healthy shoulders. Starting from a strong base allows for greater strength output from all other upper body exercises.
Maximize your time in the gym.
I love combination exercises! When done correctly (and that means great form!) they are a perfect way to maximize your output during your workout, especially if you are short on time! The Plank Row is no exception - core, shoulder, lats, and even the biceps and triceps get a workout here!
How do you row?
1. Start in a hand-plank position, with each hand on a dumbbell. If you have hex-shaped dumbbells, you can balance on the weights. (Modification: If you have round dumbbells, you may place both hands directly underneath the shoulders with the weights outside your hands)
Starting Plank Position
Modified Plank Position
Tip: Make sure that your hips are square and your core is held tight, in line with your shoulders. Do not let your hips drop during the row.
2. Row one dumbbell at a time, making sure to keep the elbow tucked close to the body, palm facing your body.
Tip: Do not allow your body to twist as you row upwards. Focus on maintaining a stable back and core.
3. Alternate your hands, rowing the opposite weight up.
Beginners: If needed, use a lighter weight. If you cannot maintain stability, use no weight and substitute by marching your hands in place.
Advanced: Increase the difficulty of the row by raising your opposite leg to hand (Left hand rows, right leg raises). This will require much more balance.
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