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Men Over 40 Can Use the Sumo Pendlay Row to Build Back Strength

Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.

As you get into your 50s and 60s, building up a strong, healthy back is just as important as it was when you were younger, if not even more so. That’s especially true if you’re not as mobile as you once were—and you might need to switch up the exercises you use to get the most out of your workouts. The traditional barbell row has always been a staple for most lifters, usually performed in a position where your back is at an angle 45 degrees relative to the floor. But you might also find yourself lifting heavy objects from the ground from all sorts of positions, and some people (especially older guys with mobility issues) might have a tough time getting into the proper hip hinge and holding the position until the object is moved. In those unpredictable moments, you want rock solid form and a baseline of strength. The Sumo Pendlay Row gives you another opportunity to hone this type of back strength (and to build muscle, too) from a slightly different angle.

To get started, you’ll need a barbell. Stand over the barbell, with your shins close to it, as if you’re going to do a deadlift. If you were doing the traditional Pendlay row, your feet would be about shoulder-width apart, but the Sumo position sets your feet wider, and turns them outward. Bend your knees slightly, push your butt back and hinge at the waist until you can reach the barbell comfortably. At this point your shoulders should be just slightly higher than your hips with your arms hanging between your knees. Keep your back flat and grab the bar with an overhand grip. Squeeze your abs, shoulder blades, and glutes as tight as possible.

From that starting position, engage your back to pull the barbell up to your chest as forcefully as possible, squeeze at the top for a moment, then lower it back down to a resting position on the floor. It’s critical that you don’t yank the barbell up by shifting your back and hip angle—as you’re rowing you want as little hip and back movement as necessary. Once the barbell is back in a resting position on the floor you may readjust your legs, hips and back to prepare for the next rep.

One major advantage of the Sumo Pendlay Row is the stance. The traditional Pendlay Row may be more difficult to hinge at the waist and reach all the way down to the bar. Since your feet are place wider, forcing your butt back, the hip hinge is much easier.

Another advantage is that you come to a full stop between each rep, which allows you to perform the reps explosively to hone power. Doing a standard bent-over row, you’d hold the barbell off the ground for all of your reps. You’ll be more focused on maintaining your grip and back position through each set, and you can’t put all of your effort into each rep. However, the time it takes to set the barbell on the floor and readjust your body for the next rep allows you to be more intentional with each rep.

Start out light to get used to the proper positioning, especially in terms of the width of your sumo stance and what feels comfortable for you. Try 4 sets of 8 reps, then progress up to more weight as you get stronger.

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https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a38735124/men-over-40-sumo-pendlay-row/