Modified Meadows Row: How To, Benefits, Programming

Unilateral rows are the bomb because they strengthen imbalances between sides, which leads to better muscle development and stronger bilateral rows. But as the dumbbells get larger and more awkward, progressing becomes more challenging. Enter the Meadows Row, the brainchild of the late John Meadows, former IFBB bodybuilder and head coach of Mountain Dog training. The landmine setup with the thick barbell sleeve allows for more loading and less awkwardness.

The Meadow Row is an excellent exercise for the entire back but particularly great for hitting the hard-to-reach lower lats. But for some lifters, grip strength becomes an issue and lower back fatigue. Enter the modified Meadows row. The non-working hand on a weight bench gives the lifter more stability and less lower back fatigue.

Gareth Sapstead, CSCS, physique training specialist, Olympic coach, and the Author of Ultimate Abs, published by Human Kinetics, brings you this modified Meadows Row exercise.

The Modified Meadows Row

“Unique features, including an angled bar path and variable resistance, characterize many landmine strength exercises. The strength curve of the rowing action is such that you’re weakest as you pull closest into your chest. As you row the landmine bar towards your chest, it unloads slightly, meaning that the exercise loads you most where you want it and least where you’re weakest.

This makes landmine rows easier on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.

The sleeve of the bar is thicker to grab and will challenge your forearms and grip strength. The Meadows Row is great not only for athletes and developing crushing grip strength but also for anyone looking to build the size of their forearms, and it trains the entire upper back and posterior delts.” explains Sapstead.

How To Perform The Modified Meadows Row

The modified version takes more time to set up and obviously takes more room and equipment, so be wary of both facts before starting. The weight bench should be set perpendicular to the landmine bar setup and the bench close to the end of the barbell but without hitting it in the upward motion.

  • Step over, straddle the bench with one leg on either side and put your non-working hand onto the middle of the bench with your arm supporting you. Hinge back and grab the end of the barbell with an overhand grip and neutral spine.
  • Contract your back to initiate the rowing action, driving your elbow up towards the sky, squeeze your back muscles hard at lockout, and control the eccentric.

Modified Meadows Row Benefits

Meadows rows and modified Meadows rows train more glenohumeral horizontal abduction (arm moving horizontally towards the middle of the body) than many regular row variations. This movement is more challenging to control than shoulder extension, and you’ll also get more rear delts and upper back engagement compared to other row variations.

The modified Meadows Row has your non-working hand on a bench supporting your lower back. This support minimizes lower back fatigue and further emphasizes the muscle used during rowing motion. The decreased fatigue combined with the focus on the upper back, lats, and posterior delts means more back muscle and less lower back pain. This variation is

excellent if your lower back is sore or you’re targeting or fatiguing your lower back elsewhere in your training.

Programming Suggestions

Sapstead suggests this row variation works perfectly as your “heavy” back-day row. Performing three to four sets of six to ten reps per side works well, depending on your goals and training phase.

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