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Activation of Spinal Stabilizers and Shoulder Complex Muscles During an Inverted Row Using a Portable Pull-up Device and Body Weight Resistance

Youdas, James W.; Keith, Julianne M.; Nonn, Danielle E.; Squires, Adam C.; Hollman, John H.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 7 - p 1933–1941
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001210
Original Research

Abstract: Youdas, JW, Keith, JM, Nonn, DE, Squires, AC, and Hollman, JH. Activation of spinal stabilizers and shoulder complex muscles during an inverted row using a portable pull-up device and body weight resistance. J Strength Cond Res 30(7): 1933–1941, 2016—We recorded muscle activation normalized to a maximum voluntary isometric contraction (% MVIC) during an inverted body weight row using a commercially available portable pull-up device. Surface electromyographic (EMG) analysis was conducted on 13 male and 13 female subjects performing 4 inverted row exercises: (a) pronated grip both feet weight-bearing (WB); (b) supinated grip both feet WB; (c) pronated grip one leg WB; and (d) supinated grip single-leg WB. Nine muscles were analyzed: (a) posterior deltoid (PD), (b) latissimus dorsi (LD), (c) biceps brachii (BB), (d) lower trapezius (LT), (e) upper trapezius (UT), (f) lumbar multifidus (LM), (g) middle trapezius (MT), (h) lumbar thoracis (LTh), and (i) rectus abdominis (RA). Normalized peak EMG activity was examined separately for each muscle with 9 repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) at α = 0.05. Post hoc comparisons of EMG activation across exercises for statistically significant ANOVAs were conducted with Bonferroni corrections for multiple comparisons. We observed statistically significant differences in EMG activation of the LD between supinated and pronated double-leg WB (p = 0.001) condition. Additionally, we found statistical significance in the UT between pronated and supinated single-leg WB (p = 0.007). No statistically significant differences in muscle activation existed between single- and double-leg WB in any muscles. Four muscles (BB, LD, LT, and PD) demonstrated very high (>61% MVIC) EMG activation during all 4 exercise conditions. Three muscles (UT, MT, and LM) demonstrated high (41–60% MVIC) activation, whereas 2 muscles (LTh and RA) demonstrated moderate (21–40% MVIC) activation. Four inverted row exercises activated the LD, UT, MT, LT, and BB at levels conducive to strengthening.

Program in Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Address correspondence to James W. Youdas,

Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.