Human movement can be reduced to three basic categories: pushing, pulling, and hip extension (squatting, jumping, running, and even riding a bike). Functional fitness begins with learning good form for this essential repertoire and then gradually adding weight and difficulty to build stability and strength. Doing these exercises correctly with five pounds, in other words, is better than doing them poorly with 100. In the words of Gray Cook, one of the founding fathers of functional training, "Don't add strength to dysfunction."
We pull on things all the time, but pull strength and stability are even more valuable for correcting the forward lean we develop sitting at a desk all day. There is no better tool for horizontal rows than adjustable fitness straps. Hung from any doorway – or even a tree – straps allow for a more efficient row than other methods because of the way they demand head-to-heel core stability.
- Stabilize your spine by engaging your core, without arching or sagging; stabilize the shoulders as described earlier.
- Pull upward until your hands come even with your chest.
- Lower to straight arms, never breaking neutral spine.
Credit: Photograph by Terrence Darvin
- Increase the angle: Lower the straps – the closer you get to parallel, the harder the pull.