I have a lot of favorite exercises - mostly the exercises that require you to focus on firing and engaging a specific muscle. But I don't necessarily need to do the complex, crazy "How did you do that?" exercises. Sometimes it's about breaking it down to the most simplistic of basic movements. If we create a rock solid foundation, then it's that much simpler to work towards the more difficult goals.
Like the pull-up, the ring row is a powerhouse of upper body movement and strength, aided even more so by your ability to control the amount of weight you bear, making it perfect for beginners! It's also the perfect pre-cursor to the pull-up, or the negative.
Upper body strength
The ring row is a great way to build on the strength of the upper body. Primarily in the row, you'll be working on the latissimus dorsi, or lats for short, the biggest muscle in your back. As with anything that focuses on the lats, you increase your body's ability to strengthen the core and correct improper slouching posture. The lats are also key in any pulling movement, so as you progress and gain strength, you'll see positive changes in other aspects of your fitness!
The row is yet another great way to work on your core, much like the pushup! So much strength comes from core that it is imperative to use it correctly! And, as with any other exercise, the stabilization of the core helps to make sure that you are engaging the correct muscles in each movement.
So how do you row?
1. Start with your arms fully extended, your core tight and engaged, and your heels on the ground.
Beginners: Start with your body higher from the ground (more vertical). This reduces the weight bearing on the rings.
Advanced: Start with your body as close to parallel with the ground as possible.
2. Pull your body up until your chest is even with the rings. Keep your elbows tight to your sides, palms facing inward. Maintain the tight rigid core throughout the movement.
3. Slowly lower back down so that your arms fully extend. Make sure to maintain control and do not lose the engagement in the core.
Challenge yourself to make this more difficult! One technique that I like to use with my clients is creating a tempo! Start by going up quickly, and then slowly lowering down for a set, focusing on controlling the descent. On the next set, raise yourself slowly, before lowering quickly! You can make the exercise your own! Try it!