Stability Inverted Row for Athletic Strength

July 9, 2018 by VAHVA Fitness

Stability inverted row to develop athletic strength and performance in your core and back muscles. This is next level work!

If you are just starting out, mastering the standard inverted row (Australian pull up) with two arms and with a good form is where you should start.

Eventually you will get good at it and you will be tempted to add weight or start doing one arm inverted rows.

Both of these approaches work and allow you to progress further but we have realized that adding mere resistance like extra weight is a very ineffective way to increase the effectiveness of the exercise. 

If adding weight was the best way to progress - we would be doing it and prioritizing it in our training. We are not really biased for anything but results. We still have high goals for ourselves as we do have for our clients and the people who do our programs.

Whether it is the inverted row or any other exercise such as the push up or bench press, increasing weight is the lowest level tactic you can do to make progress. The results will be at this level as well. 

The real problem with adding weight is that your movement quality (the purity of your movement) never improves, the pure contraction of the muscles get worse and you are inclined to cheat either with speed or by manipulating your body mechanics.

Stability training similar to what you see in this exercise was developed so you can add difficulty to the exercise while continuing to improve your movement quality, form and contraction which all directly affect your athletic ability.

Moreover, this exercise is not for sissies. You do it right and it will be A LOT harder and burn a lot more than doing heavy repetitions. 

The reason why we care about the purity of the movement, good contraction and learning how to stabilize the body, is because this way you will develop universal strength that has the highest transference to other activities.

When we worked on heavy lifting and difficult skills, and then tried to do other things like martial arts, sports, dance and other physical activities, we quickly realized that our "impressive strength" had very poor crossover to anything. 

We mainly got good at lifting heavy and performing the skills. There was obviously some transference but it was nothing to be happy about. 

When we do strength training, we want the training to directly improve our health, well-being and performance in all physical activities.

Sure the training will also allow you to perform strength feats and lift heavy but the first priority of our universal strength training is to improve your health, posture and universal strength. 

What is the point of being able to deadlift 500 pounds if you still suck at literally everything else? This is the case for A LOT of people who don't do proper strength training.

Stability Row

stability row for athletic strength and athletic physique

You can use gymnastic rings, TRX, ropes and even a bar for the stability row. There are two versions of the stability row:

Stability inverted row (right): the working arm travels next to your side.
Stability Bulgarian row (left): the working arm's elbow flares out.

In the stability inverted row you keep your shoulder blades (scapula) neutral and intact while the rest of the body stays rigid and stable during the pull. 

Basically, the movement that comes from your one arm (shoulder joint) is maximized while the movement from the rest of the body is minimized. We call this precision training and it's exactly that.

The benefits of the stability row include:

  • Improved posture.
  • Increased back strength.
  • Much better core stabilization and body control.

The resistance to the working arm comes from the stabilization of the rest of the body. This resistance is a lot to handle and it is one of the reasons why it's an advanced exercise.

The typical one arm inverted row includes a core twist which is not what we want to do here because it will directly take resistance off the working arm. People are basically using their chest, obliques and other muscles to do the majority of the work.

Another common mistake people make with the inverted row and almost any other exercise is trying to maximize the range of motion.

The bro tip: "always use full range of motion" has been misunderstood and doesn't always apply.

Because of this tip, many people ruin many exercises that they do. The most common way is to destroy the effectiveness of the back squats by always squatting too low.

In reality, it's not the maximum range of motion that counts but everything that happens inside the range of motion that you are doing. 

With the inverted row, people often rotate the scapula to increase their range of motion which interferes with the pure shoulder joint movement. You should keep the scapula intact at the end of the repetition and just pull the arm to the level of your body.

The Keys to Reach the Next Level

Core stability is one of the pillars of athleticism whether you are into sports, martial arts, dance, movement or anything where you are using your body in space. Without stability there will be no speed or control.

In addition to rigorously working your back muscles, these stability rows will work your core musculature. Obliques, abs, glutes and even lower back need to work hard to keep the posture. 

You will also practice stabilizing the scapula to a high degree. Learning how to control your shoulder blades in ALL upper body exercises is one of the tickets to the next level.

The reason why a lot of people get stuck after training for a while is that they never fully master the basics. The basics are not just easy exercises such as push ups but also the training principles that cover the entire spectrum of training the human body. 

The stability inverted row isn't part of Athlete 20XX but in Phase 2  we use similar exercises (most Athlete 20XX exercises are kept in secret) to target every part of the body. 

These high level principles require sophistication and novelty but luckily, we got the beginner Phase 1 to get you ready for the intermediate Phase 2.

Moreover, you don't need to understand how everything works - just by following the simple video instructions you will obtain the immense benefits of the methodology.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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