Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ed Coan's response on rows

Hey since someone proceeded to put up a video saying I was talking out of my ass about Coan doing strict rows......I asked him.


Dumbest argument ever, but a lot of guys are claiming that you did rows sloppy, and some guys wrote that you did heavy rows with very strict form. Could I get some insight on if you did both at various times or preferred one style of barbell rowing to the other?



From Ed.....

A little of both. I always felt that if I did them too strict, I only felt it in my arms from pulling with them too much. I pictured them like a rower in a boat. The movement stretches more and is a little safer. It worked for me!! Hope this answers your question. Take care, Eddy

So before I even asked Ed, my take was........."The thing that may be applied here is that Ed may have done strict rows before, and sloppy rows later, or sloppy rows before and strict rows later."

The other thing I learned about arguing is before you go telling someone they are "talking out of their ass" you better go to the source first.  

Ed did both.  

But I like this debate, and I'm going to put up a post later for guys who want to participate in the first LRB study about rows in relation to deadlift strumpf and/or the building of it.  That way we here at LRB don't become part of the mental masturbation crew, and actually try to find out what's the most effective shit we can do in our training. 


  1. Hey Paul,

    This is my first time commenting but I'm a long time reader of your blog. I really dig that you posted this up because all too often I see guys hide from facts when they don't align 100% with their beliefs. Really loving SLL, getting stronger from it too. Thanks.

  2. "...participate in the first LRB study about rows in relation to deadlift strumpf and/or the building of it. That way we here at LRB don't become part of the mental masturbation crew, and actually try to find out what's the most effective shit we can do in our training."
    I don't know how, (maybe an after effect of thinking about Coan) but I somehow respect you even more after that. It's hard to imagine. Anyway, I'd be interested in this, as I've been recently slacking on my rows anyway.

  3. Interesting that, even in the video of Ed doing "sloppy" rows, he explicitly says that the purpose of doing them that way is to strengthen the lower/mid back. I'd add the traps to that, but it seems he does agree with you.

    I'm on board with your experiment - I'm trying to get 60-100 reps of strict pendlays with 115# on my horizontal push, horizontal pull day day, and I'll let you know if it helps my dead.

    Also, I'm running your block pull w/ floor pull backoffs program and pause squat only program on the same day. It's been going really well actually. It's really nice that, as the weight drops off, the volume goes way down, which actually makes each session feel 'easier' than the last, since you go from 5 triples from the floor and 8 triples on the squat in the first workout, to only 1 triple each in the last.

    1. "he explicitly says that the purpose of doing them that way is to strengthen the lower/mid back."

      word for word, what I wrote. I think using the deadlift is a better option for that for most guys. Remember doing rows this way will tax your low back more. If you're already pulling heavy and squatting heavy, you may end up over working the low back this way. Your mileage may vary.

    2. Are Cable Rows in this situation not a better option..because the don't tax the lower back that much?

    3. I think any kind of rowing is good, and cable rows are actually my favorite.

    4. About the cable rows , should i use a v-bar handle and pull just below the pecs?

  4. I think Ed's response is a perfect example of training individuality. After putting in your time under the bar, anyone making gains and paying close attention to their training should be able to figure out what works best FOR THEM. Ed's response speaks volumes: "It worked for ME." Experience trumps all.

  5. Good post Paul. Here's a concept for the intense internet warriors, most of these people who throw comments and doubt are not as strong as you or Ed. Take the advice from people that are stronger than you and have been there before. At least, thats how I look at it. Success leaves clues. Keep up the great log man !

    1. I have no problem with debate or people challenging what I write or say....that's how we learn. All of us. And when we learn we get better.

  6. Whatever works for you is best. However you have to stay honest, take the hit and admit it, if your heavy ass cheat rows aint carrying over. Comes back to ego.

    I like a bit of both.

  7. I've been doing cheat rows like a boss previously, following a rule of thumb saying you should use about the same weight as on bench. First time I felt my rhomboids working was during low weight cable rows, squeezing every rep.

    It did take me a while to get my ego in check though.


    Just throwin' this out there

  9. Wow, this is really a debate?

    Isn't this like any other accessory movement - i.e., do it if, how, and when you want as long as it lets you add weight?

    (and I would include, not get you injured, which ultimately is the same as "keep adding weight", but some guys need this distinction).

    FWIW, I like barbell rows at slightly above parallel torso with zero back English. I find they hit the lats/mid-back better and they help me with keeping the bar pinned to my shins when I'm actually pulling. Not masturbation, tried Yates Rows, Pendlay Rows, Heaving Gorilla Rows, Cheat Rows, Kroc Rows, other-non-kroc-DB-rows, etc. This is what worked best for me.

  10. Ok Paul, here's my rebuttal to your rebuttal.

    If you want a case study for deadlifting, I'd like to throw my hat in. Here's some footage I taped during tonight's session. Should be an eye opener to some of your posters who think my post was from an "intense internet warrior". LOL

    I still think you were talking out your ass on that last post. Nice to hear from Eddie tho'.

    1. Hard to be talking out of my ass when Eddie confirms my thoughts now isn't it? So yeah, that feels like internet warrior syndrome at this point.

      Second, Vince Urbank pulls over 900, Eric Lilliebridge pulls 850, and Andy Bolton pulled 950 raw, and non of them endorse sloppy rows.

      Great pull, but it doesn't mean that shit rows win because of it. Lots of guys with great pulls don't do them, and don't like them that out pull you. So are they right too? There is no right answer.

      What I don't like is a dude showing up telling me I'm talking out of my ass because he doesn't like my ideas. And you're going to break Kuc's record AFTER a big squat and bench too, right? Because otherwise it's not the same.

      See, I know how to be a dick too.

    2. Also you raise your torso on your "strict" rows. Not QUITE exactly how I explained it is it?

      Second, there's no real "evidence" here that your sloppy row gave you your deadlift is there? Just as there's no evidence that doing rows with 135 pounds gave Vince Urbank his deadlift.

      You use the lift to build the lift. You use the assistance to build the musculature involved in the lift. Vince found he didn't need 500+ pound rows to build his rhomboids and traps. So he just went and broke Doyle Kennadays long standing deadlift record. So he wins, right? You know, since doing so mean you "know what you're talking about".


      Instead of coming at me with "hey Paul, I disagree and here's why" then having civil discourse about it, you show up and want to act like a cock biter. Like the world doesn't have enough of those.

      But good luck on breaking Kuc's record. He's one of my all time favorite lifters. Just do me a favor, since you don't talk out of your ass and know so much. Do it in a full meet like John did, with a max squat and bench.

    3. Since you’re so concerned about my ability to do a 3-lift, here’s a 2000lb raw total in a mock meet a few weeks ago (750/500/750). The squat and total would be all time world records for 242. The deadlift was a token first attempt just to get the 2k.

      Your attempts to be snarky just made you look like a jealous manchild with a case of sour grapes. Better to be a “cock biter” with a 2000lb total than, well, anything else really.

      So yeah, so much for listening to guys who are stronger than you. You want someone who’s stronger than you AND who agrees with you. Now I see.

      Since you decided to become a spontaneous form Nazi, here’s some real deal super-duper flat back rows. I walked in and did them tonight with no warmup, street clothes, and at parallel. Any movement is a thoracic arch. Try rowing anything substantial without it. Big whoop.

      See, I can do what you can do (and a hell of a lot more) without really trying. Can you say the same, or aren’t your *ahem* rhomboids strong enough?

      As for Urbank, a 906 lift by a 308 using a deadlift suit in an untested single lift contest? Really? You’re honestly going to compare that to a drug free raw guy weighing 60lbs less? When it comes right down to it, no, Urbank COULD NOT lift more than I do under similar conditions. Nor can I throw on a suit and jab some test and do what he does. Same goes for Lilliebridge and Bolton. We’re all just about the best in our categories and all of our opinions are valid.

      The irony here is that Urbank “beat” Kenady’s record and Kenady used to row just like I do. Kenady also did it in a full 3 lift meet, so by your own logic Urbank didn’t beat shit. He’s a one lift wonder, so why the double standard? You twwying to hurt my feewings? Awww.

    4. I wasn’t trying to “step to you, bro”. Not everything is a fight. You stated Coan did things one way, I called you on it and proved he didn’t. End of story. I also disagreed with your opinion and posted a video with my take on things. So what? I was hoping to spark a debate, not name calling. Grow up.

      You can “name drop” all the big lifters you want. I don’t need to. My performance speaks for itself. All your “evidence” up to this point has been shit you heard through the grapevine or read in an article while I am presenting my first hand experiences. When I tell you that rowing like I do has helped my pull immensely, it‘s a qualified remark. I didn’t just decide to start rowing out of the blue to argue with you, they really have been a key factor in my squat and deadlift. No joke.

      But, whatever. You don’t want to listen. The point I was trying to make was completely lost on you. As you say, you are free to believe whatever you wish, unicorns and rainbows and all that.

      Your argument rests on your assumption that doing things “your way“ gets results in excess of the way others do them. Well, PROVE IT. Stop bashing people who don‘t agree with you, stop the arrogant pseudo-superiority, stop with the anecdotal “such and such told me this” backpedaling and actually PROVE that doing things your way is giving you such excellent results. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and it looks to me like you haven’t made shit in the way of progress for quite some time. Whatever happened to your goals of going over 1800? Didn’t happen, did it? Wonder why? Maybe, just maybe, you don’t know as much as you think.

      Also, since you decided to start being a dick for no good reason, I’ll throw down a gauntlet.

      I’d personally like to see a video of this fabled 700 deadlift of yours. Frankly, I think it’s as mythical as the unicorn mentioned earlier.

      See Paul, you may see yourself as superior to all the kiddies out there jacking off to Rippetoe, but to me you’re just another wannabe. You hang around big lifters and name drop instead of actually doing anything noteworthy yourself. Being able to email Ed Coan isn’t impressive, breaking records like Ed Coan is what’s impressive.

      So stop being a little bitch. Put up or shut up.

    5. Actually let's go back. You started with...

      "you're talking out of your ass"

      So hey, I went and asked Coan. He said I wasn't. That I did both.

      Now you say you proved Coan did things the way you said, when he actually said he did both. HE SAID THAT. So I admitted I was wrong about him ONLY doing strict rows, but you're still beating the drum that you were right.

      Yeah this kinda makes you a cock biter.

      I can pull 700+, but since it's been one of my longest standing goals, I'm not going to until a meet. That's my own personal choice and something I said to myself a long time ago once my deadlift started moving.

      I have videos every week. And seeing how I have broken several pulling PR's and pressing PR's in the last couple of months (two in a couple of weeks on pressng) I'm not sure what the fuck you're talking about when you say I haven't made any progress in quite some time. Oh I guess that's you talking out of your ass, eh?

      It appears you're just a chest thumping idiot who didn't like me calling you out on stroking your ego to your cheat rows. That seems to be the beginning and end of it.

      As far as your mock meet, maybe if you compete in the SPF that squat will pass, but otherwise, please bitch. It's high as fuck. Mock meets on youtube don't mean shit. Go to a meet, and do it. Then take the accolades. But name dropping yourself with record holders when you're doing shit in your basement doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Feel me?

      I tell you what, I'll even do you one better. I am doing the SPF nationals again in Chicago this next year. This gives me time to get my leg figured out. I'll be in the 242's. If you can out total me no belt, no wraps, with a close grip bench, I will pay for you the steak of your choice. If I win, you do the same.

      How's that for putting my money where my mouth is?

    6. And I'm sorry, you keep throwing your name out there as the "best" but what records is it you currently hold and in what fed?

    7. *USPF Nationals NOT SPF......I feel dirty now for insulting the USPF like that.

    8. Oh and just to add, I talked to Brandon Cass this morning, and he told me to tell you "lifts in your basement don't count".

      So get to the USPF nationals and make it count. Basement and gym lifts don't mean shit.

    9. Yep, about what I thought. Spoken like a little bitch, Paul.

      I ask for a simple video to back up your claims and macho bravado, and you bob and weave. Must be all that kung fu shit.

      “Your squat is high” . “It’s in your basement so it don‘t count”. “Show up at this random meet and beat me”. “I just talked to big name lifter “X” and he agrees with me”. You just did a great job proving all the points I made earlier.

      1.) You’re a hypocrite.
      2.) You’re a name dropping wannabe.
      3.) You’re a whiny little bitch.

      You can’t pull 7 OR back up your claims, it’s all talk and maneuvering. Yeah, your videos are great. The comic relief of seeing your bloated moonface try to pull a mid shin 675 and fail miserably is priceless. Good times. Bottom line, your lifetime goals are my warmups and you know it. When push comes to shove, you talk big, but when a bigger dog calls you bluff you just can’t walk the walk.

      Have fun selling tshirts to kids.

      *p.s. - I would take you up on your offer, but you'd need to show up at the the USAPL nationals where the lifts are actually legit. But hey, we both know they don't allow "your kind" over there...

    10. Nice dodge.

      Dan Green on you - "Internet warriors... UNITE!!! ...In the basement..."

      I'll be at the USPF nationals actually competing. Basement lifts don't mean shit. You get that? If you think I'm a bitch, come to the USPF nationals and treat me like a bitch.

      That's the last word on it. Put up or shut up. No one gives a fuck about basement warriors.

  11. My personal opinion on the Pendlay rows is that I do them in the way you say not to, with a slight movement of the hips. The reason for this, is that I actually do them specifically with the intent of strengthening erectors, not to focus exclusively on rhomboids. Specifically I arch the upper back helping to bring the weight up, and inevitably the rest of the spine arches somewhat as well. I also like the lower back work I get from it, and feel that it helps my deadlift bottom portion.

  12. Hey Paul, here's some proof of rows done correctly, with the back flat and no hips movement.

    1. Here's the thing. There's no right or wrong answer here, no matter what you lift, no matter what cock biter tells you.

      It's about what you like, and what drives your lifts. I have personally found that sloppy rows did nothing for my lifts and beat my low back up all to hell. Andy Bolton does seated chest supported rows for the same reason. He out pulls cock biter, so he must be right!

      Lifting, as always, has been about finding what works. I do think that sloppy rows are an ego lift. The lift that cock biter did that he called a row, looks a lot like a stiff legged deadlift with some arm bend throw in to me. But hey, if he feels it works for him, then he found what he feels works.

      That's what lifting and experimenting is supposed to be about. However my opinion is that you use your support work to build the musculature. I find that strict works do just as good a job at that as sloppy shit. If others don't, their prerogative.

  13. I never liked regular bent over rows, even with 135 I never felt them in my rhomboids and lats as much as doing pendlays. When I first started doing them I watched that same video Paul posted with Max Aita and Glen Pendlay to make sure I was doing them the right way. I hit a 25 lb PR on deads around that time but I know for a fact it wasn't just from the rows. I can say for certain though that Pendlay rows, REAL pendlay rows helped me maintain a rigid back during my pulls.

    Recently however, I've found that lifting my torso a little bit gives me a better contraction in my lats and rhomboids. However, these aren't true pendlay rows anymore, more like dead stop BB rows. If your going to call it a pendlay row, do it right (I'm guilty of this too).

    On the topic of assistance, I'm with Paul, it's more important to stretch and contract the muscle than load up on the weight. Do your assistance like a bodybuilder(think Kai, not Branch), get that mind muscle connection going no matter how gay that sounds lol. I'd rather do my dead stop rows with 185 than go 3 plates with that jerky, throwing your body to the bar form an not get anything out of it. The most I get out of heavy ass sloppy rows is extra grip work from putting my weights back and a shitty deadlift workout soon after.

    I haven't been following this debate so I don't really know the whole deal. I'll say this though, do your rows how you want as long as your actually working the right muscle groups. Everyone is different but I think we can all agree that it's pointless to do an assistance movement if your not working the right muscles and ASSISTING your main lifts.

    1. BTW, no relation. LOL

      Maybe that's part of the disconnect with some guys. I adhere to the school of doing your assistance/support work like a bodybuilder, where you make the muscle work. Not move weight through space. There is no barbell row event in powerlifting. So I don't feel the need to load up weight on the row in order to let the row do its job. Which is building a bigger back. Even dorian yates, who had the biggest back of all time, did his Yates rows strict (even if they were more upright). As you mentioned, Kai Greene talks about using less weight and making the muscle work in order to grow. More growth = more mass, and mass moves mass. This means a bigger strength ceiling.

      So that's my rule of thumb on support work. You don't need to go stupid heavy on it for it to be effective. Hell, I will go a step further, you don't even need to train heavy as fuck on the big lifts to get stronger. The Russians rarely train heavy and are stronger overall than anyone else. Learning intensity and volume regulation plays a far bigger role in getting strong on a consistent basis than just loading up max singles.

    2. Speaking of russian training, do they realy train more then 4 times a week , with big exercises

    3. I think it can vary from camp to camp, but I think it's usually three. With 2-3 squats a week, two presses a week and a pull.

    4. LOL. Carter ftw.

      Yeah, earlier this year I started to get really strict with my assistance along with being more conservative with the weights I hit in training and attempted at meets. Around that time I started reading your blog more regularly and you've reinforced these concepts (the basics) that have taken me years to realize.

      Not to keep saying the same thing over and over but I think about it like this, I'm not going to start cutting squats high, bouncing benches and hitching my deads to get more weight so why would I do it on my assistance lifts? Your training the muscles not the movement.

      Max singles are gay. Singles have there place but maxing in the gym is like scoring a touch down in football practice, at least for a competitive lifter. If you are just lifting to lift and you want to test yourself go for it but realize it's just that, a test.

      Thanks for the awesome blog Paul and for teaching me a new insult, "cock biter" LOL.

    5. Scoring a touchdown in practice. Why haven't I ever thought of that!? Will steal that for future reference.

  14. All good stuff.

    That video was probably the most impressive thing I've seen in a while. I hope Herb Icide does go on to break the record. The argument on sloppy vs. strict can (and should) go on forever (as long as it's civil), but when you see shit like that... damn.

    Urbank, Lilliebridge, Bolton... they pull more than Herb, but at significantly higher bodyweights (except Lilliebridge, who is most likely not human). I don't think there is a "right" answer, but the discussion is really great, especially now that I see serious lifters chiming in with opinions.

    Personally I suck at all 3 (strict rows, sloppy rows, deadlifts - all a weakness), but have recently seen good gains from that 2x12-week program outlined on this site. Thanks for having such a kick-ass blog and always coming up with informative shit.

  15. Paul,

    My bro in law and I actually met Ed Coan at the Arnold Expo last year, we had the opportunity to shake his hand and I will say this, once putting your arm around his upper-back (posing for the damn picture, haha) you could feel all the power he built up in that back of his...I mean...rock fkin' solid. Like it COULD withstand a thousand pounds on his back. After all, he's done it.

    "waterboy scene" Barbell Rows suck.....dumbbell rows are better.
    *whiny voice* No, you don't mean that--barbell rows!

    *sinister voice*......Dumbbell rows.

    No! Barbell rows.

    ....Dumbbell Rowsssss.

    I'm just messing around. If you don't get it, watch the fkin' film, haha. But truthfully, barbell rows never done shit for me and especially heavy-ass cheat rows, they taxed my lower back like crazy. For what, like you said--there is no competition for it. I was able to pull in the mid 600's at 200lbs, and I never did barbell rows. The gym I went to only had 100lb dumbbells. I just did them for a shitload of sets/reps...focusing on volume and making the muscles work. That wasn't until after i started deadlifting in the 550's to 600's. It's like you said, find what works for you dude.

  16. Ummm...I think everyone is missing the point here. The BIG picture.

    You, um...emailed ED COAN...and he just answered, no big deal, typical Friday...chatting with my bud the Coanster.


    1. Ed is unreal humble. When I did the USPF nationals he was there, just talking with everyone, helping people back stage that were squatting like 350. He's a really really down to earth guy. Great great person in that regard.

    2. I figured he would be. He is my powerlifting hero - if one can be said to have such. Unbelievably skilled at his chosen sport (to me he is to powerlifting what John Brzenk is to arm wrestling).

      Great blog. Bewteen you and Wendler I got my bases covered.