One-arm rowing is often thought of as the poor cousin of bilateral rowing. Then came the Meadows series. This rowing variation allows you to go hard and heavy without being inhibited by large and bulky dumbbells. The late John Meadows, a former IFBB bodybuilder and Mountain Dog head trainer, came up with this awesome twist, hence the name. The Meadows row uses a landmine arrangement that hammers your upper back, your grip, and those hard-to-reach lower lats.
MEADOW SERIES EXPLAINED
The Meadows Row is a unilateral row performed with a landmine setup, overhand grip, and staggered stance. The angle of the landmine and gripping the thick end of the barbell reduces stress on the shoulder joints while maximizing tension in the shoulders, upper back, and lats. If you sway your stance with a slight incline (because your rear hips are up), work your upper back hard and heavy and your lower lats.
This type of landmine row, along with other variations, makes you work harder by forcing you to grab the big end of the barbell. This improves your shoulder stability as your rotator cuff activates. This is a great variation if your shoulders bother you.
HOW TO DO THE MEADOWS ROW EXERCISE
- Stand in a staggered stance with the front foot horizontal to the land mine assembly
- Lean your torso forward and grab the barbell.
- Place the other forearm on the front leg.
- Get the hip closest to the bar higher than the other hip, as this stretches the lower lats.
- Begin this movement by bringing the elbow behind you while retracting the shoulder blade. Keep the working shoulder down.
- Pull toward your back hips until your elbow is level with your torso.
- Slowly lower yourself until your elbow is straight and then put it back and repeat the exercise.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE MEADOW ROW
The Meadows Row is a unilateral exercise performed in a modified hinge position. This trains both the lower and upper body. The Meadows Row trains these muscles:
- Posterior deltoids
- Medium traps
- rotator cuff
- Erector Spinae (lower back)
- Straight abs
ADVANTAGES OF THE MEADOWS
In addition to the benefits of a V-taper and huge forearms and biceps, there are several other performance benefits of the Meadows Row.
- Increases grip strength: The most obvious is because you’re gripping the thick end of the barbell, your wrists and forearms are working harder as you row. This carries over directly to other lifts that require a high level of grip strength.
- Corrects power imbalances: Unilateral raises correct power imbalances between the sides, leading to better muscle development and a more balanced body.
- Hypertrophy of the upper back and lower lats: Being able to unilaterally hit your upper back and lats hard and heavy will help add size and strength. Also, a strong upper back is essential to maintain a neutral spine when squatting and deadlifting
- Increases Core Power: Unilateral lifting throws your body off balance and forces your core to work harder to stay stable.
COMMON MEADOW SERIES FORM FAULTS
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Meadows Rows are very specific in the way you focus on the upper back and lower lats. Here are a few things to look out for to get the most out of this lift.
Using an Incorrect Stance: If you build up with a wide, staggered stance, it’s just another one-arm row and not the Meadows Row. Stand with a small step backwards, making sure to lift the hip closest to the bar to stretch the lower lats.
Using Large Plates: Loading with larger plates, while macho, will reduce range of motion. Use 10 and 25 pound platters instead, as the reduced diameter of these platters allows for large ROM.
Lifting with the wrong muscles: When the weight is too heavy or you get tired, you tend to twitch your upper traps and not use your upper back and lats. Prevent this by keeping your chest up and shoulders down, and lightening the weight if necessary.
MEADOWS ROW WORKOUT PROGRAMMING
This exercise is NOT a strength test, but designed to strengthen lateral imbalances and add muscle blocks to your upper back and lats. Here are a few programming considerations for the Meadows line.
- frequency – The landmine setup allows you to go hard and heavy without putting too much stress on your upper body joints. But you’re in the hinge position, which puts stress on your lower back and hamstrings. Both of these factors must be considered when deciding how often to run Meadows Row. A sweet spot is two to three times a week in conjunction with other bilateral rowing variations.
- volume – Volume and frequency go together, but there are a few factors to consider when deciding how often to do the Meadows Row. First, how much deadlift you’re doing because you’re in the hinge position and lower back endurance comes into play. Secondly, if your lower back is tired or you have lower back pain, it is better to reduce the volume of the Meadows Row.
When it comes to programming sets and reps for pulling exercises like the Meadows Row, it’s recommended that you row more than you push for the sake of shoulder health and injury prevention. If you’re doing 10 to 15 sets of presses a week, it’s worth doubling the amount of rowing you do. Then doing 20-30 sets of pulls per week, of which 10-15 sets can be Meadows Row, works well.
- intensity – The sweet spot here is between 8 and 15 reps for hypertrophy as this exercise is not a strength test. Let grip strength be your guide here, and vary sets and reps according to grip strength and upper and lower back fatigue.
MEADOW SERIES VARIATIONS AND ALTERNATIVES
The major benefit of the Landmine is its ability to bypass mobility limitations and pose in a variety of positions to target the upper back and lats from different angles for better muscle development. Here are a few one-armed oars and landmine variations if the Meadows oars aren’t for you.