Horizontal ring rows is a very basic fundamental pre-requisite bent-arm strength progression to more advanced pulling movements. While vertical pulling movements like muscle-ups or rope climbs are awesome and cool to train, they will require a proper scapula stabilization and other muscles to be conditioned in order to safely incorporate them into your routine.

Even simple pull-ups and chin-ups will require from you to earn your right to be able to start working on them. Rolled forward, elevated shoulders all the way up to your ears. Shrugging while struggling to get above the bar…Being able to do a few pull-ups might not necessarily mean that you are ready for them. If your ego is not too big and you can spot your weaknesses, the horizontal rows can fix it and greatly benefit your training.


Benefits of Horizontal Ring Rows

Horizontal rows won’t only benefit your shoulder retraction, elbow flexion or grip by building in them the strength necessary for muscle-ups or rope climbing, but they can also prevent or correct muscular imbalances and deficiencies that could lead to shoulder injuries.

If you spent most of your life being obsessed with your chest and biceps, the likelihood is that by prioritising internal rotators through bench pressing and biceps curls, you simply weakened musculature that rotates your shoulders externally.

If your shoulders get tight from overuse and you often experience pain in them, It’s probably you. Your external rotators may be too weak to overcome the tension coming from the opposite direction. Being and forcing movement in a poor position could result in a pain due to some form of shoulder inflammation coming either from impingement, or even small tears in your tendons and muscle tissue.

Properly performed ring rows can balance your routine by engaging weak muscles in your back and stretching tight anterior chest muscles like the pec minor. In other words, adding horizontal rows to your workout can help you restore deficiencies and keep your shoulders healthy and ready for more advanced strength training.


Depending on the level of your strength, you can easily adjust the difficulty of this exercise by manipulating the angle of your body through setting the rings height. The basic progression starts from an inclined body position with the rings being set at your shoulder height. To further increase the intensity, you will lower the rings until your shoulders reach just above the floor level. Finally, you will finish your progression with declined rows by elevating your feet onto a box or other suitable object that is at the same height as the rings. 4-5 sets of 10 properly executed decline rows in most cases will mean you are ready to engage into more advanced bodyweight pulling movements.


Start at the bottom position with your shoulders slightly protracted, arms fully extended and hands facing forward. Ensure enough tension through your midsection to keep your body tight in a straight line. No piked hips or back extension. Initiate the pulling motion by bending your arms and bringing your shoulder blades together. Keep pulling while turning palms to face inward until you reach the top of the movement with your hands as close to your shoulders or torso (decline rows) as possible. Perform slow controlled movements. No dropping or bouncing off at the bottom.


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