A Little Push, a Little Pull

When it comes to upper body exercises, a great place to start is looking at the push and the pull in different planes of motion. For example, we could look at the dumbbell chest press as the push, and a dumbbell single arm row as the pull, or a barbell overhead press as the push and a dumbbell high row as the pull ... different planes of pushing and pulling.

For the purpose of this post, let's just focus on the upper body movements. More often than not, many of us athletes are stronger in the push than we are the pull. I feel like the bench press, chest flies, overhead press, etc. seem to get a lot of love, but we don't hear "yo, how much you row?" very often. The pull is SO important; not only for symmetry in musculature, but for preventing injury in the shoulder joint and initiating explosive power through the upper body.

When I sit down to program an upper body focused workout, I like to think of the pushes and the pulls - making sure that I am not only strengthening the appropriate muscles, but I am catering to the individual athlete's needs ... are they very chest dominant? Do they have a history of shoulder injuries? What sport do they play? What is their posture like? Etc. So many questions run through my head, I won't write them all, but you get what I'm trying to say.

Here are some of my favourite push and pull combos

1. Push-up + Pull-up

2. Shoulder Press + Upright Row

3.  Chest Press + Bent-Over Row 

4. The Renegade Row [Push-up on DB's to a SA Row]

5. Lat Pull-Down + Dip 


TRX Inverted Row


Incline Pop Push-up


BB Bent-Over Row

There are many, many combinations you can put together, and they don't all have to be in one workout! A great place to start is to figure out what the goal/ purpose of the workout is, and what are your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses.

So, my final challenge to you is instead of asking how much someone benches, ask them how much they can row ...

Need more visuals? Check out my instagram @training2xl for demos and explanations of different exercises.

Stay strong, homies.