Split Stance Dumbbell Row
How to Do the Split Stance Dumbbell Row | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]
Proper Form, Common Mistakes, & Variations | Home Strength Training
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MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN Split Stance Dumbbell Rows
The "lats" as they are affectionately called...lol just kidding - anyway, "lats" is short for Latissimus Dorsi which is the widest muscle of the upper body and the largest muscle of the back .
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Middle and Lower Traps
- Serratus anterior
- Teres major
- Rear deltoid
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE lats
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
ALL WE'RE DOING:
Not gonna lie, this is a challenging movement because of that squat component. But its a fully body workout!
WORKIN' OUR BACKSIDE
Sometimes we think of our backside as just the bottom half of us don't we! But today, we're working our OTHER backside- the top half.
The bent over row will work the latissimus dorsi muscle - which translates to “widest back”, it is most commonly called the lat muscle. The lat is shaped a little bit like a wing, and it can pull the arms in close to the body. The exercise is extra challenging because you will be working both the upper and lower body at the same time. In the movement we are doing today, you will be pulling the upper arm back and in close to the body.
Please note: If you saw the words "widest back" and panicked, let me clarify- you will not get a wide back from these exercises. What you WILL get is more definition in your back along with a healthier walking stride and better posture.
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
BIG MUSCLES ARE TYPICALLY IMPORTANT
Bigger isn't always better, but on our bodies, when something is large, it usually means it's either really important, has a lot of different actions it's involved in, is connected to lots of bones and muscles, or all three.
So being that the latissimus dorsi muscle is the largest musce of the entire upper body, it's very important, not only for healthy movement of the shoulder, but also to hold us in an upright position.
CONNECTS WITH A BUNCH OF BONES & MUSCLES
The lat attaches to the spine, the shoulder blade, the pelvis and the arm - it even has a connection to your gluteus maximus - or buttock muscle. That's 5 places!!
Just knowing this tells us something about how important it is to work this muscle.
TEACHES US HOW TO USE THE LAT TO KEEP OUR TORSO DURING ARM MOVEMENTS
Learning how to use the lat to keep the torso still and move the shoulder blade back while you pull your arm back can help prevent future upper back, neck and shoulder pain.
UNLESS YOU'RE A WORKOUT PRO YOU PROBABLY HAVEN'T EXERCISED THIS MUSCLE MUCH
The history that many of us ladies have with exercise, including myself (I only started doing these lat movements about a year ago), is such that we likely haven't done exercises that specifically work this muscle. We've probably done lots of squats. We've probably done some on our knees pushups even though we absolutely hated it. We've probably done some lightweight bicep curls even. But not much back stuff. Not lat stuff.
So, now that we know it's a big important muscle, we can finally give it the attention it deserves and catch it up to speed with the other body parts we HAVE been working on an off for the last twenty years.
EVERYDAY LIFE &
HOW WE USE OUR LATISSIMUS DORSI IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. PULLING THE ARM DOWN (EXTENSION FROM FLEXION)
- Swimming - it’s called the swimming muscle because it does all 3 motions of the crawl stroke
- Cross country skiing
- Chopping wood
- Golf swing
- Pulling heavy items towards you
- Pulling a door closed
- Pulling weeds
- Hugging someone really hard
2. PUSHING YOUR BODY UP WHILE KEEPING THE ARMS STABLE
- Using crutches
- Pushing down to get out of a chair
- Pushing yourself out of a pool (hands on edge of pool)
3. MOVES AND STABILIZES THE SHOULDER BLADE
- Pulls the shoulder blade down (scapular depression)
- Holds the shoulder blade down to provide a stable base for your arm to work off of
4. HOLDS THE TORSO IN A HEALTHY UPRIGHT POSTURE
5. STABILIZES THE LOW BACK
- When lifting, carrying, heavy arm and leg use
HOW Standing Bent Over Dumbbell Rows SHAPE OUR BODY
Building the lat muscles contributes to what they call a “V-taper” - it adds to a more hourglass-ish, slim waist appearance.
Confident and healthy upright posture.
This one is hard! What's cool about it is it's a fully body exercise because of the more challenging position. This is the sort of exercise I would typically only include 1 or 2 of in a workout so we don't get overly exhausted.
This version of the lat dumbbell row is done in a lunge position. The position challenges balance and stability, and will work the muscles of the legs, especially the glutes, quads and hamstrings.
This is more challenging than other bent over rows where you are supported by your hand and/or knee on a bench. It will work more muscle groups at once, which can be a great way to increase the overall intensity of your workout session if you like, however you also may need to reduce the weight you are using for the rows compared to other supported versions because there is so much more work your body is doing with its other muscles at the same time. So the trade off is you may not fatigue the lat muscle quite as well.
How to Feel What Muscle is Working
Option 1: While standing, take one hand across, and touch near the bra line, just under the armpit. Actively press your shoulders down and elongate the torso/spine up, feel that muscle moving/contracting. That is part of your lat muscle.
If you don’t feel anything you can try it this way:
Option 2: While seated, take one arm across - but just below their breasts, and feel the lat just under the armpit. Take your arm on the side you are activating and push the hand down into the seat of the chair. Like a seated press-up. If your shoulder blade is elevated or in slight protraction you will not be able to get a good lat contraction, so be sure to pull your shoulder blade back and down, THEN push down and in with your upper arm. You will feel a strong lat activation just below your armpit along the side of your body.
PROPER FORM: Split Stance Dumbbell Row
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
SETS & REPS:
2 sets of 8 - must fatigue the muscles.
Moderate up - with control and back stability, and lower down for the eccentric component.
BODY POSITION FOR THE Split Stance Dumbbell Row
FEET: Staggered stance, this is a lunge position. The front leg: Foot is flat on floor. The back leg: Toe is planted with heel lifted.
BODY STANCE: Shift body weight towards the front leg, bend both knees lowering down to a squat position. The front knee is bent to approximately 70 degrees. Hinge at the hips to lean forward approximately 50 -70 degrees (this is limited by the strength of low back and core - must be able to maintain a neutral and stable spine), pelvis, hips, shoulders squared to the front.
HAND/GRIP: Neutral, so palms will face in, this should be a comfortable grip.
ARM: Both arms hanging down to your sides, dumbbells will be in line with the front lower leg.
NECK: Neutral and relaxed throughout the movement. Long neck - space between top of shoulder and earlobe.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Split Stance Dumbbell Rows
CUE: This is a challenging position - stay focused on form - keeping the torso squared to the front and really feeling the lats do the work.
Pull the shoulder blades in and down the back. Lift your upper arm back (towards ceiling/back wall). Let your elbow bend as the upper arm moves back. Try to resist the urge to use your biceps at this point.
Continue to pull the upper arm back behind the body, inwards towards the midline (the spine), and down towards your low back.
Your elbows will be behind your back at the end of the movement. Pause and squeeze the lat muscles. Return to the starting position with slow control and repeat.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
Kneel down to set the weights on the floor. Push back up and step forward to standing.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Split Stance Dumbbell Row
Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.
1. Avoid rounding/Arching your back
AVOID: Avoid arching(extending) or rounding (flexing) your low back
- Can lead to muscle strain or low back joint injury, it will also decrease the activation of the targeted muscles. Maintain a neutral spine position.
- Pressure or discomfort in your low back.
WHAT TO DO:
- Maintain a neutral spine position to prevent low back joint injury, muscle strain, or damage over time.
- Troubleshooting suggested fixes:
- Poor core strength: activate your abdominal muscles, or do choose a position with more support.
- Poor back extensor strength: choose a position with more support.
2. Avoid making it a bicep curl
AVOID: Using the biceps to lift the weights
- The goal of the exercise is to use the lats.
- This may happen if you find yourself doing mostly bending at the elbow rather than moving through the extension of the shoulder behind you.
WHAT TO DO:
- Correct form and focus: the elbow does bend but it is a passive movement as the upper arm is lifted back. Avoid actively (using the biceps) bending the elbow.
3. Avoid elbow flaring out
AVOID: Avoid letting the elbows flare outwards from your body as you move them upwards.
- This will cause the back of your shoulder muscle (rear deltoid) to do more of the work and the latissimus dorsi to do less of the work.
WHAT TO DO:
- Pull elbow in close to body.
4. avoid rotating torso/hips
AVOID: Avoid rotating torso
WHAT TO DO:
- The hips and shoulders should be squared throughout the exercise. This will strengthen the muscles in the healthiest way and it will limit stresses on the joints and muscles of the spine, shoulders and hips.
- Troubleshooting and suggested fixes
- Poor set up: check foot position, hand position, height of bench (if applicable), height of anchor (if applicable).
5. Avoid rounding your upper back or shoulders
AVOID: Avoid rounding your upper back or shoulders
- This can lead to neck, shoulder injury or damage over time and can result in using the wrong muscles (upper trap).
WHAT TO DO:
- Please watch the video clip to see the difference between shoulder blade protraction at the starting position vs. letting the upper back drop too far.
- Check posture and form in mirror
VARIATIONS OF Split Stance Dumbbell Row
Single Arm Row
This allows you to focus on one arm at a time. The working arm will be the arm on the side of the leg that is back (ie - left leg back, left arm is working arm). Working one arm at a time will work the muscles of the core a bit differently - the quadratus lumborum (to prevent side bending) and obliques (to prevent rotation) will be more active. The arm that is not working (not completing the row) can be held down and relaxed; Or to increase the difficulty of the exercise, the nonworking arm can be held back at the top of the row to keep tension on the muscles as the other arm works.
Single Arm - Supported
Single Arm - Supported
This is a good way to delve into this more challenging version of a lat row, while still having some support from the upper body to make it more doable.
The goal here is to only use the bench or chair to rest your hand lightly on, just to help you keep your balalnce, as opposed to leaning on it to hold you up.
Single Arm - ISO
Single Arm Row - Isometric Hold
An Iso old or isometric hold is just holding the dumbbell at the position where there is a great amount of tension on the muscle, for several seconds. In this case, that would be when the dumbbell is near your hips. Hold that position for 5 seconds, before slowing lowering and starting the next rep. You will likely need to do less reps for a full set involving iso holds as it puts tension on the muscle for a much longer period of time, helping it to fatigue more quickly.
Split squat Dumbbell Row
This is pretty much the hardest of the hardest for lat rows. Doing a split squat at the same time that you do the row will mean that you are moving both your upper and lower body at the same time, every rep. Very fatiguing! Remember that it's better to do less reps with excellent, slow control, than many reps with fast and poor form.
SPIFFILICIOUS FACTS ABOUT MUSCLES & MOVES
The latissimus dorsi is sometimes listed as an accessory breathing muscle. This means that in times of stress, or heavy breathing, it can help to expand the rib cage during breathing in (inspiration).
The broad latissimus dorsi has attachments to the lower 6 thoracic vertebrae, all of the lumbar vertebrae, and the sacrum (triagular bone at the base of the spine) through the thoracolumbar fascia. It also has attachments to the lower 3 or four ribs, the inferior angle of the scapular and the humerus.
Weak lats can cause upper, mid and lower back pain, shoulder pain, even pain down your arm. Tight lats can limit movement of your shoulder blade and your arm, and cause low back and shoulder pain.
ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING the Split Stance Dumbbell Row
The back extensors, quads, glutes, and hamstrings will work to hold the starting position and keep the body still. The middle and lower traps, rhomboids, serratus anterior work to stabilize the shoulder blades in towards the spine (retraction) and down the back (depression) so that the arm muscles have a stable base to work off of. The triceps, teres major, and lat muscles work concentrically to pull the upper arm upwards (up from starting position - towards ceiling and back wall - depending on lean). Towards the end of the motion, the long head of the triceps and the lat work to extend (move behind the body) and adduct (move the upper arm inwards towards the spine). The rear deltoid may assist at this point.
As the weight is lowered back to the starting position the lat, triceps, teres major, and muscles of the shoulder blade, work eccentrically to control the movement against the pull of gravity.