Kroc rows are a special variation of the single-arm dumbbell row that involves lifting heavy dumbbells through high reps to increase muscle strength and size.
Named after popular powerlifter and bodybuilder Marie Kroc, this exercise combines the intensity and volume of reps to expose the target muscles to a lot of metabolic and mechanical stress that translates to strength and size gains.
This makes it much more effective than the traditional single-arm dumbbell row.
Let’s get straight to how to do it properly, shall we?
- Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot a step in front of the other.
- Hold a heavy dumbbell in one of your hands.
- Lean forward and place your other hand on a stable dumbbell rack, bench or any other sturdy object. Your hips should be directly under your shoulders.
- Make sure your upper body is about 15 degrees to the ground.
- Alternatively, you can rest one knee on a bench like you would when doing the regular single-arm row. However, if you choose to do this, keep your hips lower to get the ideal angle.
- Tighten your core to stabilize the spine and pull both shoulders back and down. This is your starting position.
- Pull the dumbbell upward and towards the side of your abdomen.
- Push your shoulder blades back to contract your upper back maximally.
- Lower the dumbbell, allowing the shoulder to push forward at the bottom position. Take care not to round your lower back.
- In an explosive motion, get back up again, repeating as many times as you desire.
WHAT MUSCLES DO KROC ROWS WORK?
The latissimus dorsi, also known as the lats, is the largest muscle on your back and is located at the side of your torso.
Its primary functions are extending and adducting your shoulder joint.
TRAPS AND RHOMBOIDS
The trapezius and rhomboids are located next to your shoulder blades.
They give the upper part of your back its thickness and contribute in stabilizing your shoulders and improving your posture.
Like most exercises that train multiple muscles in your upper body, Kroc rows involve all three deltoids; the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids.
However, as an exercise that extends your shoulders, it mostly focuses on the posterior deltoids at the back of your shoulders.
There are several muscles that make up your forearms, including the palmer longus, flexor carpi radialis and brachioradialis.
Some of these muscles are responsible for your grip while others help flex your elbows.
This is the muscle responsible for flexing your elbows and shoulders. It is located at the front of your upper arms.
The erector spinae is the umbrella term for all the muscles that extend and stabilize your spine. This exercise involves more back movement than the single-arm dumbbell row, which means it works the erector spinae more.
BENEFITS OF KROC ROWS
HIGH REPS AND HEAVY WEIGHTS
Usually, powerlifters either train heavy and do few rep sets or lift light weights and do high reps.
Unlike most weight training exercises, Kroc rows allow you to lift heavy and perform high reps at the same time, which creates a unique muscle and strength-building stimulus.
OFFER BACK SUPPORT
Rowing exercises are notorious for placing a lot of strain on the lower back, which puts it at risk of injury.
Kroc rows are one of the few that don’t do this.
When you are performing this exercise, you should place your supporting hand on a sturdy object to help support your spine and minimize strain on your lower back.
This way, you get to enjoy the benefits of rowing while protecting your spine and supporting your back.
BOOSTS DEADLIFTING PERFORMANCE
There are many ways through which this exercise can boost your deadlifting ability; it strengthens your grip, increases your hip drive and increases your core strength.
It also increases your overall back strength and improves your shoulder stability, which helps prevent injury while deadlifting.
ALTERNATIVES TO KROC ROWS
This exercise is a rowing exercise that uses one arm at a time, just like Kroc rows.
How to do it properly:
- Stand upright at the end of a T-bar machine. The position you take should place you perpendicular to the bar. You can use a barbell or a landmine device in the alternative.
- Reaching down, grab the bar by its end using the hand nearest to it. Your knees should be slightly bent as you grab it.
- Without arching your lower back, row that end of the bar up, towards the side of your ribs.
- Extend the working arm.
- Repeat as many times as you desire.
SINGLE-ARM SMITH MACHINE ROW
The single-arm Smith machine row may not be as popular as other lat exercises such as bench presses, Smith machine squats and overhead presses, but it is one of the best in that category.
How to do it properly:
- Set the machine bar to mid-shin height, and then stand sideways to it.
- Bend both knees slightly to hinge your hips forward.
- Reach down to grab the bar by the center.
- Tighten your core, place the opposite hand on your leg to support your body and slightly arch your back.
- Bend the working arm and row the bar upwards.
- Keep your wrist straight and retract your shoulder blades.
- Lower the bar back to the ground and repeat these steps.
KROC ROWS MISTAKES TO AVOID
ROUNDING YOUR LOWER BACK
Rounding your lower back puts a lot of strain on your spinous ligaments and intervertebral disks, both which can be easily injured and typically take a long time to heal.
To prevent such injury, make sure you brace your abs for more stability.
NOT RESTING BETWEEN SETS
Since this exercise involves so many joints and muscle groups, you should try to take 1 or 2-minute breaks between reps so that you don’t overuse your muscles and put them at risk of injury.
Kroc rows may be a great way to increase muscle strength and size in your upper body, but if you are a beginner you should probably just forget about it until you are strong enough.
Unlike most other rowing exercises, it involves lifting a lot of weight, which could hurt you if you have yet to develop enough strength.
Follow the steps in this article to minimize risk of injury while working towards the best possible results.
Also, pay attention the mistakes highlighted in here so that you don’t ruin your form and hurt your muscles and joints.