It’s well documented that I prefer simple, efficient and effective exercises. I’m not a big fan of overly complicated programming or flashy movements done just for the sake of entertainment or doing something different. If you did a program of nothing but deadlifts, squats, presses and pull-ups (and I have) you would still be doing better than 90% of the people who enter the weight room. Still, there is room for some different exercises – as long as they are done for a reason and are still effective.
One area that seems to be neglected, or given half-hearted attention, by most people is the back. It’s been said that if you can’t see it, most people aren’t likely to train it. Interestingly, I’ve dedicated a good amount of my attention lately on sharing information to help people solve this problem. A few weeks ago I covered what I believe to be a phenomenal builder of strength and muscle in the back muscles, the bent over row, and I recently had an article published on EliteFTS.com about some of the best back exercises you probably don’t have in your training.
So in keeping with that theme, here is another excellent exercise you should try: the standing one arm cable row.
This is an effective movement that anybody can perform as long as they have access to a pulley. There are loads of benefits to this exercise as well. The most obvious is that, as a rowing movement, you are training the musculature of the upper and mid-back. The great thing about this movement though is that since it’s unilateral you’ll find that you can actually get more range of motion in the scapula, thus training the muscles that work around it that much more effectively. Think about driving the shoulder blade back and down for maximum effect.
Other than that this movement is actually both an anti-flexion and anti-rotation exercise as well. You have to fight to keep your torso upright and no be pulled forward by the weight (anti-flexion) and you have to stabilize yourself so you don’t use rotational momentum to get the movement done correctly (anti-rotation). If you add on a thick grip, which I usually do, you are taxing the muscles in your forearm and hands as well. In the video above I’m using a pair of Grip4orce grips.
Do this movement on its own or try pairing it with an antagonistic exercise like the bench press. You’ll be glad you tried it.