Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Upper Body Conditioning

Another "quick" conditioning finisher I've started to use.

60 seconds of Renegade Rows.

First, what is a renegade row?

You set up two dumbbells of equal size on the floor, and use them like pushup handles for a pushup. Then, at the top of the pushup, you hold yourself in position and row each of the dumbbells up one at a time. One pushup, and one each of the rows, is a single rep.

Here is a video of them done with adjustable block dumbbells:


How can I make it harder?

Pretty much anything that would make a pushup or a row or a plank harder will make this harder.

Wear a weight vest.
Raise the weight.
Use thick handled dumbbells (this will make the pushup somewhat easier on the hands, but the rows harder).
Use Kettlebells (makes the pushup a little easier, in my opinion, but the row much harder due to the thicker handles).
Elevate your feet.

You can even do these unweighted, just "rowing" your hands back to your sides. It's much, much easier if you do it this way, however.

Now, about that conditioning...

Most conditioning or finishing work is heavily dependent on the lower body - sprints, squats, jumps, burpees, sled dragging, Prowler pushing, etc. But on a heavy lower body day, you might just want to get your heart rate up, get some ab work in, and leave your legs out of it. Renegade rows, done rep-centric (X reps in minimum time) or time-centric (60 seconds, as many reps as possible), are a good choice here. They are inherently strength-limited - you're not going to be able to row as much in a renegade row as you can in most one-arm dumbbell row variations, and the pushup/row/row combination will take energy out of you faster than a pushup/row superset. But it's a great combination for conditioning. Plus they are very easy to progressively load - just do them with heavier weights the next time once they get too easy.

Renegade rows are one of my favorite "unusual" combination exercises, and using them as a finisher seems to be an ideal way to get some bang out of them without worrying about limiting your overall strength gains.

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