I can't row and my shoulder is weird

Hey all, 2 problems I’m seeking help with.

  1. I can’t do bent over barbell rows

I’ve been training now for a bit over three years, and in that time I’ve done a lot of changing, goin from 170lbs of fat to 130lbs of bone to now, 172lbs at ~10-12%. I’m 5’6".

In this time, and all my training, I’ve hardly done any rows. The majority of my back work has been chins. So I have all this vertical pulling going on without being balanced with horizontal pulling. When I had a gym membership, I did cable rows, hammer strength iso-lateral rows, one arm DB rows, but I never felt the soreness in my back like I did after chins. The connection wasn’t there and I was pulling the weight, but obviously not with my back.

As of late I’m correcting the problem to the best of my ability and that’s trying to get myself sensitive to the feeling of the back muscles contracting, so I’ll pretend I’m pinching a penny back there at random times during the day. Training wise, I’m doing bent over rows with a really light weight, holding the contraction at the top for 5 seconds or so. I hope in a few weeks I’ll be more sensitive and able to raise the weight.

Any suggestions on how I can get to rowing properly?

  1. Anyone who does martial arts, I do modern arnis and when doing single sinawali (think stick your arm straight out, and draw a C with it) my shoulder starts cracking and feels really uncomfortable. I can’t keep it up for long, and it doesn’t matter how much I warm up or stretch.

I’m 19 so I’m hoping I didn’t do anything permanent.

Any ideas?


Try doing a row, but only use the scapular retraction part of the movement. Use a chest supported row where you are sitting upright or a cable row (these are the ones i like to use best for this exercise). Keep your arms straight, elbows locked the whole time, retract the scapula (pinch shoulder blades), let the shoulder blades protract (come apart) and get a good strectch between your shoulder blades while keeping tension on the muscles. 2-3 set of 12-15 reps with a 232 tempo. The weight should be light enough so you keep perfect form the whole time, this is an exercise to teach proper retraction of your scapula. At no time should you see you shoulders rise in a shrugging movement.

sounds good, thanks! ill give it a try today