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Renegade Row – Pulling Perfection and Core Control in One Move

Got Back?

Many years ago one of the lads brought a “fitness” magazine into the martial arts academy where I was training. As usual it was more ads and nonsensical articles than anything useful. Except for one article.

There was one article in it that was worth the price of the magazine, in fact this article formed the cornerstone of my next training phase as I prepared for my Kenpo 2nd dan.

It was a dumbell circuit, this was the time before I found kettlebells, and it was awesome. It had a few staples, Thrusters, High Pulls, V-Sits etc but there was one drill I’d never seen before. They called it a push up/row.

I’ve since learned it is better known as the Renegade Row. And I fell in love with it there and then.

The Renegade Row is one of my all time favourite exercises. It is essentially an upper body pull, like any other row except that we perform it in a plank position. While this may reduce the total weight we are able to use, it does factor in several other issues.

It asks us:

  1. How stable is your core?

  2. That shoulder, is it stable?

  3. How brave are you?

To do this lift you must first be strong enough to hold a one arm plank. That means a torso that is stable enough to hold itself strong and steady in an unstable position. And thats before we add weight. Once we start adding weight these demands skyrocket.

We must press all our weight through one bell, this requires the shoulder to be properly anchored and stable, it requires a straight wrist and a tight core. Then we start to pull. Instantly you’ll feel the strain in the abs, you’ll find the weight is distributed diagonally through the supporting arm and the opposite foot, torquing the spine and trying to unbalance us. But no, we are athletes, we train to be able to counter rotation, to maintain balance under load and still perform. These are stresses we enjoy because when we throw a punch or shrug out of a tackle, these are the forces we will likely encounter.

So the renegade has been a staple of my training ever since.

I use it over a variety of rep ranges. Lighter bells for conditioning, often combined with a push up. Heavy bells for strength.

Progress into these slowly, but do use them. Rotate them into your pulling workouts on a regular basis and you won’t regret it.

Check the video for more and a full demo:


Regards Dave

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