There are some workout moves that you’ll learn within your first few sessions in a weight room that you’ll keep coming back to no matter what type of program you’re doing. Rows, especially the bench-supported dumbbell variety, are definitely one of them.

But just because an exercise is an old standard doesn’t mean that it can’t be modified for even more gains. Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is a big proponent of taking classic moves and adding new elements to make them even more effective. Case in point: this TRX plank pause row.

“This one is a perfect back day finisher that’ll force flawless row form and incinerate your core, too,” says Samuel. “You can also use it as a lead core move in an ab workout as well.”

The exercise is so effective because of its use of positioning, which throws in extra challenges as you try to row with perfect form. “Your prime focus on this is winning against the instability of the TRX single-arm plank,” Samuel says. “Your natural tendency will be to elevate the hip opposite the arm holding the TRX. Avoid this by tightening your glute on that side and flexing your abs hard.”

To perform the TRX plank pause row, you’ll need a set of suspension training straps and a light to medium weight dumbbell. Check out this set from TRX if you don’t have any on hand.

Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

  • Start on the ground, holding one TRX handle in your right hand and the dumbbell in your left. Straighten out your legs with a wide base, bracing your core and glutes, to get into a single-arm plank position.
  • Keeping your right arm straight, squeeze your back to row the dumbbell in your left hand.
  • Pause at the top of the row for one beat, then lower the weight back down in a controlled motion.
  • After the prescribed work period, switch arms.

    This move is all about body control. “The row element is what really fries your core, here; as you row up and down, your core must now counterbalance against changing anti-rotational demands,” says Samuel. “You’ll need to row with control to stay level in the plank, activating smaller back stabilizers instead of simply firing up your lats. That’ll round out your back workout perfectly.”

    When you add the TRX plank pause row to your workout, Samuel says that using set work periods for the exercise is a better plan than a rep count, since you might be inclined to rush to finish each set. Aim for 3 20-second sets per arm at the start, with your goal to work up to 3 30-second sets. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.

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