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F*ck Dumbell Rows

No matter what I do on this shitty exercise I can not activate my lats, no matter what I do. I’ve just about given up with it and it is the only exercise I can do because I work out at home and do not have access to a gym and I have looked at so many instructional videos and I just can’t get it!

I do not have a gym bench to row on but I do not think that’s the problem I have found other objects to ‘replace’ the use of the bench but I still can’t row.

I have even tried rowing an empty dumbell with no weight on it and I feel some back activation but very little, I can feel the lats contracting. What could it possibly be?

try doing them from a dead stop. I find that activates my lats more, not sure why.

Try doing chest supported rows so you don’t need to worry about stabilizing your lower back.

Try doing it unilaterally to get better focus.

Try focusing on driving the elbow backwards and as low and close into your stomach as possible. Your shoulder blades should be low down (depressed) throughout the whole movement, and should be squeezed together (retracted) at the top. Squeeze them together as hard as you possibly can at the top.

Are you wearing straps?

if you dont like them, dont do them. there’s plenty of other good back exercises

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I had the same exact issue with DB rows. Read that Meadows article linked by Kooopa, helped me a lot. Basically, instead of “squaring off” your feet, try putting the foot on your working side back a bit. That’ll elevate that hip and activate the lat quite a bit more. Don’t be surprised if you’re sore the next day too. I now love DB rows after doing them this way, give it a shot.

The Meadows article was helpful for me as well. Two other points: try doing an exercise that does allow you to feel your lats immediately before rows. This might help you “feel” your lats while rowing. Next, if you have a training partner, have them press hard on your lats with a finger or 2. That might help you “find” them as you lift.

Pretty much what jack said, I find it helps very well for one arm barbell rows, I also like to put an arm on my rack if I am going to use a lot of body english. For me, I notice getting a stretch in my lats help with using them for rowing. (also letting your shoulders protract some)

Meadow’s rows and single arm barbell rows for the win.

One of the things I’ve discovered is completely the opposite of what we’re told, but it works so well for me.

Instead of the knowledge that the row (no matter what type of row) is a PULLING exercise, I had to think of it as a PUSHING exercise - only here my focus is on my elbows. I visualize that my elbows are pushing upward against the weight (like a backwards bench press), and not my lats pulling. Imagine as you pull upward that someone is pushing your elbows down and you’re pushing against this.

I know it sounds weird (and I’m probably not explaining it accurately), but it works for me.

Yeah, I’m not a fan of DB Rows, I like Chest Supported Rows instead

No, Iron dwarf, that doesn’t sound weird at all, it may be poorly worded, but not strange. I do it to for rowing if I want to put emphasis on my lats, and I think it might actually effect the angle being pulled. Another tip for lats when rowing is to not round your back, I have keeping an extremely tight arch in my back helps to use the lats for rowing instead of my arms.

A favorite for barbell rowing is a relatively high torso angle, tight arch the elbow technique mentioned, and rowing it to the lower stomach (navel maybe slightly above) an overhand grip is also preferred for me instead of an underhand grip to lower stress on the bicep tendon (I deadlift mixed grip).

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
try doing them from a dead stop. I find that activates my lats more, not sure why.[/quote]

Same here. I just started doing them like this about a month ago and it feels a lot better. I think it is because it lets you do each rep the same way and with full ROM.

If OP is new, I will just say that lats were probably the hardest muscle for me to get a feel for. For quite awhile pull ups were the only exercise I felt in my lats, I couldn’t get any rows to work. I think it can just take time, so keep trying (this and other exercises as well in case some feel better than others).

As Meadows has stated, play around with the foot positioning and “swaying” of your hips. Once you find the sweet spot it all comes together, for me it helps to push my hip away from the weight on the way down to feel the stretch and then to pull the DB into the hip on the way up. I should note this is for deadstop rows and I use the head of an incline bench on the lower settings as a support. Alternatively, 1 arm landmine rows are the shit.

pre exhaust with pullovers, then hit your pulldowns, and do your rows last. helps with lat MMC imo.

[quote]wannabebig250 wrote:
pre exhaust with pullovers, then hit your pulldowns, and do your rows last. helps with lat MMC imo.[/quote]

This set up works the best for me as well.

[quote]Jack Bauer wrote:
I had the same exact issue with DB rows. Read that Meadows article linked by Kooopa, helped me a lot. Basically, instead of “squaring off” your feet, try putting the foot on your working side back a bit. That’ll elevate that hip and activate the lat quite a bit more. Don’t be surprised if you’re sore the next day too. I now love DB rows after doing them this way, give it a shot.[/quote]

What kind of weirdo are you? Old reg date, level 4 and almost no posts?! I bet you don’t even lift bro.

Drop em for now. Focus on pulldown and other exercises for lats. Make sure you go light. After a couple months when your MMC gets better you will love the db row.

Forums aren’t usually my thing dude, i’d rather be training. Or eating. I bet you wear a headband in the gym.

Just started feeling these pretty recently. A few tips I have:

  1. Use a lighter weight - I used to db row 100’s for 12 easily but my lats were shit. I dropped it all the way down to 60’s and focused on controlling the DB and squeezing the rep at the top, then going to a complete stretch at the bottom.

  2. Pull the weight slightly back while keeping a tight elbow. I think about pulling the db to my bellybutton.

  3. Slow the rep down, back needs a lot of TUT. Squeeze hard at the top and keep the eccentric slow.

  4. Try using straps, I would feel all the work in my forearm/bicep before using them.

Hope that helps