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Pulldowns and Rows: Mostly "Feeling" Movements?


I don’t think I’m unique in this, but I have to ask. When doing rows and pulldowns, is it more about feel than “power”? What I mean is that when I lighten up the weight a bit and concentrate on contracting the muscles and pausing at the mid point of the movement, I get a better feel of the muscles/movement. But then I wonder if I’m getting slighted by not using “more weight.”

I’ve heard the phrase “Train the muscle, not the movement.” Are most back exercises like this? FWIW, when I concentrated on my deadlifts yesterday, I reallly felt it in my hams on the lowering portion of the movement.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Looks like you have had your lightbulb moment.

Not sure about the pausing mid rep bit but everything else you said is spot on. Forget about weight and concentrate on tension and feel for a smooth 8-12 reps with controlled negative and you see much more improvement.

Agreed. Lighten the weight (like you have) and focus on the contraction in your back. Do that for a few weeks and then begin upping the weight again. I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly the weight comes back but the feeling remains.

You’ll just need to get over the mental barrier of feeling like you’re not training balls-out because the weight is lower. I bet your back will feel sorer than usual, though, due to the extra direct work and contractions.

With some exercises, to a point, especially with dumbbell and barbell rows. There was a time in which I had a hard time feeling my back during these lifts and did lower the weight, used stricter form, and paused at the top of the lift. However, after the point in which someone can “feel” his back for these exercises, he likely will have to use some body sway to progress because there really is so much that can be lifted with just using the arms and shoulders. Eventually the back will get too strong in the lift for the arms and rear delts and the only way to progress is to use CONTROLLED body sway while keeping the glutes and back tight and neutral or slightly arched. Hence we see no experienced bodybuilder using “proper form” in barbell rows, not even Dorian Yates. And when I say body controlled body sway, I mean a slight hitch created by the hams, lower back, and glutes, in the same way there is a hitch in bar curls and later raises. Same goes for cable rows and lat pulldowns.

Straps will be necessary to progress in exercises too at some point.

Pre-exhaust works good too for those who have problems feeling their backs working.

I stay quite strict for pull-ups and chins though, which are one of the most botched exercises. See my form here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BIiPZ4aARgh/?taken-by=masmacros

I think this is the way to go. On Lat (and other) work, I am currently doing long (3-4 sec) pauses at the maximally contracted position (what I think you are referring to by “midpoint”), followed by a fairly slow (2-3 sec) eccentric. It’s giving me a great pump in the gym, and leaving me with significant DOMS afterwards.

Thanks for confirming my thoughts, guys. I spoke to one of the more developed guys at my gym about his training. He trains in a very controlled manner, with pauses and contractions when he’s training. Notice I didn’t say one of the biggest or strongest. Yes, there are bigger and presumably stronger guys than Jeff. However, I’m not training for powerlifting, strongman, etc. I’m training to look & feel my best…which is why most of us train in the first place, yes?

Just do both: couple exercises performance/move the weight, couple by feel and strech etc. Saying that if cant do 10 full range pullups yet or have bad posture i would vere more towards going heavy