Row the Right Way - Indianapolis Fitness And Sports Training

Row the Right Way

written by Mike Robertson

One of the most common issues we see with new clients at IFAST is that they have no clue how to move through their upper back.

The area around the scapulae (or shoulder blades) is typically weak, and can lead to shoulder pain, neck pain, etc.

Furthermore, most people simply don’t know how to move their shoulder blades to get the most out of their exercises, so I think this post will really help you better understand how to train this area effectively.

Case and point: If you’re performing any sort of rowing movement (dumbbell, bent-over, etc.) many would assume that it’s all about getting your arm behind your shoulder.

In this situation, not only are you not targeting the upper back area, but you’re also putting the front of your shoulder joint at risk!

If you want to row correctly, the focus should be on the shoulder blades – not the shoulder joint itself.

This short video should help:

Here are some key points we focus on at IFAST when rowing:

  • Keep the spine neutral,
  • Lead with the elbow (not the bicep),
  • Finish with the shoulder blade (not the elbow or shoulder joint), and
  • Keep the spine neutral throughout.

If you want a great coach that can help you achieve your goals, please contact us ASAP at [email protected], or via phone at 317.578.0998. We’d love the chance to work with you!

All the best



Mike Robertson

  1. Mike,

    how does moving the scapulae during a rowing motion fit with the joint-by-joint approach?
    Shouldn’t the scapulo-thoracic articulation be trained for stability?

    All the best,

    • Philip – Stability doesn’t mean “not moving” – it simply means control in the presence of change (I stole that from Charlie Weingroff).

      Quite simply, to have stability you need a kyphosis for the scapulae to rest on, and then you need it in the right place at the right time.

      So stability doesn’t mean not moving – it just means that it’s where you want it when you need it there 🙂


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