A common issue we see with back training is over use of the arms. Especially when rowing where substantial weight can be used we see back stimulation limited by grip strength and arm fatigue. When always letting the weight get stuck in the arms much of the complex and multi layered structure of the back muscles are missed. It takes practice to ‘feel’ and learn to control all of these various interactive muscles that make up the back
An excellent practice is to learn to shrug the weight at the bottom (stretch) and top (contracted) positions of the row. This means the arms do not move during the pull and just your shoulders and shoulder blades move. This allows you to focus your efforts on squeezing and learning to isolate your back musculature. Watching the video will make it easier to understand.
Practice only gripping just as much as needed but not over squeezing the hand muscles. It takes some practice trying to relax the arms but as you begin to feel your back muscles more and more you will get it. Even if you feel you cannot create much movement at first – stick with it. Think of your hands as just hooks and your arms as loose ropes. Let your shoulders come forward to start by allowing your shoulder blades to separate and stretch apart. Concentrate on drawing your shoulders back and down with your back muscles until you feel your shoulder blades pinch and squeeze together.
Give this shrugging movement time and patience at first. You will suddenly feel it kick in then be quite happily surprised how deep you end up feeling the back muscle contractions. In time you will find you perform all rowing movements by shrugging into the move first before you begin to bend your arms and your grip will no longer be a limiting factor.
Be well, be strong,
Andrew and Tierney