Trainers get asked all the time about the best exercise for a particular muscle group. A good trainer will usually shy away from giving a straightforward answer to those questions because there really is no "best" exercise for a body part. Great results come from sound program design, solid nutrition, and proper rest and recovery. But there is one exercise out there that I think is hands-down the best for warming up and integrating the body before a workout: the Cable Squat to Row.
Here's how to do it:
1. Stand with feet hip-to-shoulder width apart in front of an adjustable pulley machine set to the lowest setting.
2. Use a rope attachment and hold both ends as shown in the photo.
3. Start form a squat position and stand up, driving the hips forward and simultaneously pulling the rope towards your belly button. Keep your belly button drawn-in throughout the entire exercise.
4. At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades and glutes together.
5. Slowly lower back into a squat and extend your arms to the start position.
6. Perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions in a slow and controlled tempo before your regular strength training routine.
So why is this exercise so great? For starters, it focuses on many neglected muscles located on the back or posterior chain of the body. It also improves the important integration of two of the largest muscles of the body: the latissimus dorsi and the gluteus maximus. These muscles, along with other structures in the lower back, make up a muscular subsystem called the posterior oblique subsystem. That term is a mouthful, but what is important is its role in human movement. It stabilizes the lower back and provides for a strong foundation to generate powerful movements from. The fibers of these two muscles run diagonal across the low back, forming an “x” that braces the bony structures and muscles of the lower back, pelvis, and core.
Once this system is activated and warmed-up, you’ll move better, be able to lift more weight, and maybe even eliminate annoying back pain. Enjoy!