Rows are a great resistance band exercise to give your body an all-over workout, without the need for expensive gym equipment. All you need is a resistance band, an exercise mat and enough space to stretch out. Like any exercise with resistance bands, you can choose from different bands to provide different levels of tension, and this allows you to switch up a gear as you become more proficient and build the necessary muscle groups.
The seated version of this exercise is the closest approximation of using a rowing machine, or indeed, an actual rowing boat. There are a couple of different ways to do this exercise.
The most common method is to be seated on the floor (or on a gym mat) with your legs pointed straight out in front of you. Loop the resistance band around your heels, and grip the top of the loop with both hands together. You may wish to loop the band around each foot for added stability.
Start with your back straight, so your hips form a ninety-degree angle. Then pull back on the band, leaning back until your hands are by your sides and your elbows behind you. Then, sitting back up, return to your starting position. At each stage of the movement, you should avoid jerking or snapping the band, you should move from the starting position to the extended position and back in a single smooth movement. That's one rep.
If you're using a high resistance band, you may wish to anchor the end to a bar or heavy piece of gym equipment rather than your feet to avoid unnecessary strain on your hamstrings and tendons in the lower leg.
An alternate version is to seat yourself on a bench, with the band attached to a suitable anchor point. In this version, your starting position should be an upright sitting position, with your back and shins vertical and your thighs parallel to the floor. Your feet should be planted flat on the floor. From this position, complete the exercise as above.
Another variation on this theme is standing rows. As with the alternate seated row, you'll need a suitable anchor point to attach your resistance band to at about chest height. Hold the band with both hands in an underarm grip, hands about shoulder-width apart, and then move slowly backward until the resistance band begins to tense.
This is your starting position. Now, with knees slightly bent, pull the band towards your body until it touches your stomach. Keep your core tensed, and your head and neck relaxed. Slowly release the tension, moving back to your original starting position. That's one rep.
All the forms of resistance band rows described above are great for building your back and core strength while protecting your joints and ligaments from high impact. This means you can safely use the resistance band row as part of a recovery program, although you should always check with a professional physiotherapist or trainer first to ensure that the exercise is appropriate for your specific injury.
Exercises with resistance bands can be categorized into two broad types. The first type is isolating, where you use the band to target a specific muscle or group of muscles to build strength in a specific area. The second is more inclusive, where you train larger muscle groups or your whole body, including your core.
The resistance band row falls into the former category. It's a great exercise for back strength and stamina training, as well as building suppleness and flexibility, but without being high impact. Whether you're just starting out on your training regime, or you already work out daily, this exercise will fit into any fitness program. You just need to tailor the difficulty to your ability level by choosing the right resistance band. For maximum flexibility, consider something like a pull up assist band set, which comes with bands of varying resistances.
The main muscle groups trained by this exercise are the upper back muscles and shoulder muscles. Unlike using free weights for strength training, rows are a lot safer for people with lower back problems, as you can avoid putting too much strain on the spine and the lumbar region, and it's also much easier to maintain good form with less bending.