A while back my wife & CEO of K11 Kalyani Capadia uploaded her video of Bent Over Rows doing an extremely commendable 3RM with 70 Lbs Dumbbells in each hand. This amounts to almost 20 lbs more than her own body weight.
Amongst the many appreciative comments, there were also certain well-meaning but ill-informed people who criticized the form. One of them had the following thing to say – “Squeeze at the top of the row and pause for a second otherwise you are just yanking the weight & straps for rows? buildup that grip strength”
My response to the person who gave the above feedback turned out to be a note on the underlying philosophy of Weight Training and hence decided to make it a blog.
“You do not need to squeeze anything at the top… You seemed to have learnt about Bodybuilding & weight training from popular magazines like Muscle & Fitness and FLEX. Hence I understand where you are coming from but sadly these magazines mostly mislead.
When it comes to my wife, I am 10 times more critical about form & would not let her upload a video of erroneous form.
This is far from Yanking. This is controlled explosiveness. The idea of this exercise which is almost a lift is to build pulling strength and not to work your lats. This is contrary to almost everything you may have read on strength training.
We at K11 thankfully do not subscribe to this Mind-muscle link nonsense. Yes, my friend, it is utter nonsense to actually consciously think about the muscles that you wish to target through a particular exercise.
The CNS is linked to the movement pattern & the task at hand which is to pull the dumbbells to the torso. The specific joint actions dictate the involvement of the muscles.
In this case Elbow flexion along with shoulder extension all the way to hyper-extension & scapular retraction while maintaining a neutral spine. sees to it that the Biceps Brachii, Brachioradiallis, Brachiallis, Lattisimus Dorsi, Mid Fascicles of the Trapezius & Erector Spinae, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidi, all get involved to the max without thinking about them.
The straps are completely justified in a dynamic movement like this where the Dumbbells connect with the torso with impact & multiple reps are done without the dumbbell being deloaded on the floor. The way we use straps is to use them & at the same time crush the dumbbell shaft with every ounce of power in our Forearms.
The idea is to literally weld the hands to the dumbbells where the Dumbbells become a part of the arms rather than a separate object being gripped by your hands.
The idea is to use the straps, but not rely on them.
The complete body tightness achieved during any lift starts from gripping the dumbbell/ barbell extremely tight to the point of aiming to crush the shaft.
This makes the dumbbell/ barbell feel lighter & they stay in complete control of the lifter. By product of this is Hypertrophied Forearms (This is how my forearms hypertrophied).
We do not use straps in a Dead-lift, as in the Dead-lift we use the DEAD GRIP & we also deload each rep thus giving us the opportunity to refresh the grip before every rep.
The exercise demonstrated here is the BENT OVER ROW & it is not a “means” to build the Lattisimus Dorsi, The Exercise or lift is an “end” in itself.
Here the goal or the end is to get as efficient as possible to pull maximum weight in each hand to the torso.
Here the amount of weight lifted is of paramount importance as the marker of progression in performance. Bad form & technique can only be an impediment to this progression.
Correct Form & Technique is used for only one purpose & that is to improve strength performance or in simple words “to lift the maximum weight possible for a given number of reps”.
The fact that Kalyani managed a 3 RM in an explosive fashion with a resistance representing more than Body-weight, does indicate to a large extent the use of good form & technique. She has used her entire body, which is the ideal way of performing any challenging physical activity.
To say you are doing a “Compound Movement” and then try your level best to “Isolate” the lats is a contradiction in itself. A person performing compound movements to target just one muscle is doing a Pseudo Compound Movement.
Hope this note makes the underlying philosophy of weight training crystal clear. That’s why Weight Training for very good reasons is also called STRENGTH TRAINING
The goal is strength & hypertrophy is a very favorable by product which is not dependent on the way you perform an exercise, but rather on the load placed on the muscle followed by appropriate bodybuilding nutrition & appropriate rest for recovery
There is no such thing as a “Body -Building” way of doing an exercise but there is most definitely Body Building Nutrition (https://www.keleven.com/sports-nutrition-courses/), which must be followed by all Strength Trainees to ensure that gains in strength are followed by Hypertrophy.
If you would like to learn more about the dietary needs of Exercising individuals and Athletes, visit –http://www.keleven.com/book-preview/sports-nutrition-manual.html
Co-Founder and Director
K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences