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Exercise of the Month: CORE™ Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training™ Unilateral Row With Rotation

In this Exercise of the Month video, Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer Krisztian Melykuti demonstrates the Unilateral Row with Rotation exercise from our CORE Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training program.

This resistance training exercise improves functional strength and can be used as part of your athletic conditioning programming. Using our lightweight and portable Strength Tubing - Core, this is a great exercise to incorporate into your outdoor workouts and client sessions.

In this video, Krisztian emphasizes the importance of cueing, biomechanics and the proper form to set your clients up for success. This exercise can be easily modified or progressed depending on your client’s needs. Give it a try!


To increase the challenge:

  • Keep the arm straight during the rotation, increasing the load in the shoulder, abs and trunk muscles
  • Place the front or back foot on an unstable surface to challenge balance and stability
  • Change the rhythm of the exercise to make it faster and more explosive
  • Use a stopwatch to see how many reps your client can do in a set amount of time

To decrease the challenge:

  • Increase the slack in the Strength Tubing, use a light hand weight instead, or do the exercise without any weight
  • Adjust the starting position to make it more comfortable and stable for your client depending on their needs. For example, the starting position can be adjusted by bending the back leg, by placing the back foot firmly on the ground, or by rotating the hip open

Read the full transcript of the video below:

Hello everyone, my name is Krisztian Melykuti. I’m a Lead Instructor Trainer with Merrithew and I’m based in Hungary. I’m happy to present the Exercise of the Month, which is Unilateral Row with Rotation with Strength Tubing. This exercise is part of the CORE Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training program.

For this exercise, we’re going to use the Strength Tubing with handles. This is a very practical prop because you can take it to your garden or to your outdoor activities.

First I’m going to demonstrate the exercise and talk about the starting position of the movement and then I’m going to give you some options for how to decrease the difficulty for some of your clients or add challenge for others.

We’re going to start in a lunge position with the Strength Tubing under the front foot. With the opposite hand, hold the handle that’s coming out from the outside of the front foot. The other forearm should be placed on your thigh, pressing into it.

You can start with some slack in the Strength Tubing or with some initial tension. The body is leaning forward as much as possible, the shoulder and ankle should be in line with each other. If you are leaning far enough, you will feel your core and vertebrae muscles start to work.

The long leg is parallel with the heel elevated. If you maintain parallel alignment of the hips, you can keep your hips square when you introduce the rotation. Depending on the mobility of the ankle, the heel can be down on the floor or lifted.

If you have a problem with the hip opening, you can bend your knee so that your hip is in slight flexion which makes it easier to hold the position for some.

If you feel wobbly or like you’re losing your balance, you can turn the hip in rotation and place the whole foot down on the floor and that will give you a larger base of support for balance.

Let’s talk about the front leg. You’re going to have triple flexion in the hip, knee and ankle. If you have no issues with your knee, you can keep it forward of your toe, that’s functional. I want to point out that the weight distribution of the front leg is important because it’s an athletic conditioning exercise, so your weight is more on the front leg rather than the back leg. By pressing into the front heel on the ground, this will focus on the front of the thigh and engage the hip extensors which will help stabilize the position and your knee.

How far should the knee go forward? It depends on the mobility of your ankle. If you have dorsi flexion then you can bring the knee more forward, but make sure that the heel is really anchoring down to use the muscles around the thigh.

If you have any issues like patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee), I would suggest bringing the weight more equally into both feet, moving the knee backwards a bit and not lunging as deeply in this exercise.

The exercise looks something like this: Go into your starting position with your arm long, keep square and then you’re going to do a high row with rotation of the torso and then release. The palm can face towards you or away from you. Pull and then release down. Your head should face forward. If you want to challenge your client, bring the eye gaze towards the direction you’re moving, that will challenge their balance.

A few tips for you:

When you start the exercise, initiate by pressing the whole foot down; this will generate some force from the ground, transmitting through the core to the upper body and this will make the exercise stronger and more powerful.

The rotation: During the rotation, the client is usually thinking of the pulling side, but it’s a movement of the whole torso. We have this push and pull concept, when one side of the trunk is pulling backwards, the other side is pushing forward. If you keep in mind the opposition forces, then you will generate more muscle work and range of motion.

The arm work: Starting from the low arm position, you are doing horizontal abduction, you are opening the chest with the shoulder blade going slightly back towards the spine and your two shoulders should be stacked on top of each other.

If it’s too challenging, put more slack in the Strength Tubing, do it without, or use a light weight so the load is more steady.

If you want to challenge your client a bit more, then you can change the lever, bend the arm and stretch it up, so it’s a bend, stretch and release. If you want to challenge them even more, then keep your long lever and you’re going to do a rotation and horizontal abduction at the same time and then release back; this will load your shoulder, abs and trunk muscles.

You can also do other modifications to challenge your client, such as front foot, back foot or both feet on an unstable surface. You can change the rhythm to speed it up and make it more explosive. You can use a stopwatch to time your client to see how many reps they can do.

That was Exercise of the Month, thank you for joining us and enjoy your workout under the sky.

Find more exercises like this one on Merrithew Connect, our online Pilates, fitness and mind-body workout platform. Try it today with 14 days free >

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