Rows and Chins – How Hard?
Question: Got the second edition of 5/3/1. Starting my second month of 5/3/1 Boring But Big. Love the progression and the philosophy. Thanks. Having a difficult time finding an assessment of how heavy to go on the chins and rows in this routine. Chins are easy, body weight is challenging enough. How gassed should I be when doing 5 sets of 10 in a horizontal pull (barbell, dumbbell, Kroc, etc.) Every thing else has a percentage, or some description of how much effort I should put in to the work. Any hints?
Answer: First, when you do Kroc Rows, you only do 1-2 warm-up sets, not 5 sets of 10 reps. And you will be gassed as hell after that one all out set. If not, you are doing something terribly wrong. Matt just wrote a huge article about the Kroc Row for T-Nation. I highly recommend you check it out. As for the other rows (t-bar, barbell, dumbbell, chest supported), just row. Start with something light, tug on it for 10-20 reps. Add some weight, do another set, and keep going. Don’t make it too complicated or care that much. Just use good form, squeeze like hell and balance out your body. What I noticed over the years is that most people who start lifting weights won’t know how to “feel” an exercise or get the most out of it (meaning: really target the intended area). This comes with a decade-plus of experience. So if you don’t feel lat pulls or rows “in the lats” don’t worry about it – just do the movement. Most young lifters don’t have enough muscle back there to feel anything but a swift punch or a shiv.
Having said that, one of my training philosophies that I’ve learned VERY early on is this; strive for a great workout on 1 or 2 main movements a day (these are the BIG movements like squat, clean, press, etc). The other stuff like lat work I just strive to have a good, solid workout. This is a huge part of my training life and something I have tried to stress over and over again; unfortunately it seems to fall on deaf ears. Everything can’t have the same importance. When you try to do that NOTHING becomes important.
Got a question for Jim Wendler? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Legitimate questions will be answered via the website/blog. All older questions will be answered in time via www.JimWendler.com. If the answer is clearly answered in any of the 5/3/1 books, your question will not be answered.