Row More Weight

The bentover row is one of the loneliest exercises in the gym – almost nobody gets to know it. And while it is more awkward than the pulldown or its seated cable alternative, the bentover row builds much more muscle in your back, shoulders, and arms – and could be the one thing you haven’t tried to improve a lagging bench press. The trouble is, most guys have such tight pecs from years of benching (without rows to balance things out) that even when they try to row, they can’t do it well. That’s why we asked Robert Belley, C.P.T., a trainer in Pembroke, Mass., for a stretch that’ll help open up a tight chest.

Hold a five – to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand and lie back on a bench as if you were about to perform the fly exercise – arms straight overhead with palms facing each other [1]. Slowly open your chest and lower your arms down and away from your torso until you feel a stretch in your pecs [2]. Hold the stretched position for 20 seconds, and then return the dumbbells to the rack and immediately begin a set of bentover rows. Continue alternating one set of the stretch with one set of rows for as many sets of rows as your workout calls for.

“By temporarily lengthening your pecs with the stretch, you allow your rowing muscles to work through a greater range of motion,” says Belley, “helping you build more back muscle.” Getting friendly with the row will enhance your stability on the bench press, allowing you to put up heavier poundage – and build muscle much more quickly.

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