Chest Supported Row “Countdowns”

Posted on by Ben Bruno

I’ve been riddled with the flu this past week and just got back to being a normal human again this past weekend. This has been a very frustrating past couple weeks for me training-wise, and if I’m really honest, my training hasn’t been where I want it to be for the past couple months.

Training is like that though. After your first few months or even your first few years of training hard, progress stops being linear and you go through those periods of weeks or months where it just doesn’t pan out how you’d hope. The key during these times is to just keep putting in the effort and doing the best you can, and usually if do that, you work yourself out of the funk and things start going back up again. The key is to not let setbacks get you down and kill your spirits and your drive.

Anyway, in today’s blog post I want to share a few row variations that I like a lot and think you’ll like too.

Six months ago I wrote an article for T-Nation about The Countdown Method, and in the time since then I’ve started using “countdowns” for chest-supported rows, and I must say, it rocks.

The gym doesn’t have a chest supported row machine so I use a barbell, but if your gym has a chest-supported row machine that’ll work great.

Start by doing five reps followed by a five-second iso hold where you hold the bar flush against the bottom of the bench. From there, go straight into four reps followed by a four-second hold. Then three, then two, then one. After the last rep, trying holding the bar at the top for as long as you can. So in total you’re doing 15 reps with at least 15 seconds of holds.

Here’s what it looks like in action. I prefer using a close-ish overhand grip (it’s harder but I feel it more), but you can use whatever grip you’d like.

You won’t be able to use as much weight as you might think, so leave the ego at the door. You can also do the same thing using dumbbells.

If you want to add a unilateral element to this, try Batwing Countdowns where you do one arm a time.

I wrote about Batwing Rows a few years ago HERE, and this is just that in countdown form.

Batwing rows are chest supported dumbbell rows where one arm rows while you do an isometric hold in the top position on the other side. For a countdown, do five rows with one arm while you hold the dumbbell in the opposite hand in the top position and then repeat on the other side. Then do four rows on each side, then three, then two, then one. Ditch the ego and concentrate on using good form. These are also a lot harder than they look, so bear that in mind when choosing a weight. I think I’m using 35 pound dumbbells in this video and it was reasonably tough.

While these don’t do a lot of good for the ego, they’ll do a lot of good for the upper back, and that’s a tradeoff I’ll gladly take any day of the week. It’s also a great way to work the upper back without stressing the lower back.

Give both of these a try and let me know what you think.

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  • http://theaipaproject.com/ Daniel Aipa

    Always enjoy the great tips ben. chest supported rows I know is something I have to start incorporating. Anything to build up the back. ALoha

    • Ben Bruno

      Thanks Danny and good luck with your training!

  • Todd

    Hey Ben – with this article posted a couple of years back (http://www.benbruno.com/2012/05/cable-row-alternative-seated-barbell-band-rows/), what is the material you’re using to tie the bar to the pole? It looks impressively strong and not sure where I would get it from.
    Regards,
    Todd.

    • Ben Bruno

      Sorry, the link isn’t working for me, so could you explain which exercise you’re describing?