Training your back doesn’t have to mean heavy weights or clanky machines. You can still get some good work in—and target other muscle groups too for good measure—with your body weight, TRX straps, and a little help from gravity.
This routine from Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. hits the back and abs with a simple two-part TRX maneuver. The TRX reach row to perfect row might look simple, but you’ll be reaching, rowing, and bracing your core, so you’ll get a ton of work in.
“It’s also super-scaleable,” says Samuel. “To make it harder, position yourself so that your torso is closer to parallel with the ground. To make it easier, stand up straighter and create more vertical body lean.” No matter what, make sure to squeeze your glutes to help to create a straighter line from torso through upper legs.
To perform the TRX reach row to perfect row, you’ll need a suspension trainer like TRX straps and a sturdy anchor. If you or your gym don’t have a setup handy, check out this kit.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Stand in front of the setup and grab one TRX handle. Lean back, extending and straightening the arm holding the strap so that it supports your weight (remember Eb’s tip about positioning for difficulty from above). Squeeze your glutes and core to keep your torso straight.
- Straighten your free arm out in front of you so that it’s even with the other.
- Extend your free arm back as far as you can behind you, reaching toward the ground to create a “T” shape. Maintain your torso’s position as much as possible.
- Squeeze your back and core and hinge at your elbow to row yourself back up with the arm holding the handle, reaching as high up the TRX straps with your off arm as you can.
- Maintain your torso position as you extend your arm holding to handle to the starting position, keeping your off arm pointed straight ahead.
- Squeeze your back and core and hinge at your elbow with the arm holding the handle to perform a standard one-arm squeeze row. That’s one paired of reps.
The rowing motion makes this a wicked routine to work the back, but the body control you need to pull off the full maneuver is what makes this such a great ab exercise.
“We could make this easy and let you just lower down [after one reach rep], fully relaxing your abs and opening into another reach row,” says Samuel. “But we want to train core control. That requires proprioception (your body’s awareness in space) as well as core and mental focus as you find that position. And once you find that square-torso position, since you’re only holding that TRX with one hand, your core must continue to fire, as if you’re holding a one-arm reverse plank.”
Add this to your back workout or challenge your ab routine with 3 sets of 4 to 5 pairs of reps per arm. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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