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BREAK IT DOWN: The Gorilla Row

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Build your back strength with this kettlebell-row variation.

It’s no secret: If you want a strong back, rowing is a must. Like other bent-over row variations, the gorilla row builds strength through the middle and upper back, lats, and shoulders while also enhancing scapular mobility, plus thoracic and abdominal stability.

What sets the gorilla row apart is the stance: You maintain a hip-hinge position, like the setup position of a deadlift, while simultaneously performing a single-arm row. Holding this isometric position builds tension, control, and stamina through the hips and legs. The lower body does a surprising amount of work, even though this is technically an upper-body exercise.

In addition to holding the hip hinge, it’s important not to overlook the nonworking arm: While one arm pulls the weight up, the opposite side presses down. This alternating push-pull pattern helps maintain stability and creates a slight rotation through the midsection.

The gorilla row is typically performed by alternating sides with two kettlebells. If you need to use dumbbells, elevate them to midshin height when beginning the move. If you have only one kettlebell, or a set of mismatched weights, perform all reps on one side at a time, making sure you have something to brace the nonworking hand against.

Gorilla row

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider, with two kettlebells between your feet.

Tip: Assume a wider sumo stance, depending on your comfort.

  1. Hinge your hips back and bend your knees until you can reach the handles of both kettlebells.
  2. Grasp the kettlebells, then row them one at a time, alternating sides. As you row up with one side, push down into the opposite kettlebell on the floor. Don’t allow your hips or upper body to rise up.

Tip: Keep your hips back and down throughout the movement; don’t let them rise or sway.

Tip: Allow your upper body to rotate and open slightly as you row the weight up.

  1. Complete three sets of 16 to 20 reps (8 to 10 reps per side).

This originally appeared as “The Gorilla Row” in the January/February 2021 print issue of Experience Life.


Maggie Fazeli Fard
is an Experience Life senior editor.

Photography by: Kelly Loverud; Styling: Pam Brand; Fitness Model: Kyler Eid

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Health & Fitness

The 4 Communication Styles – Experience Life

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How knowing these four different communication styles can improve your relationships.

When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I developed a pattern of sulking, almost on a monthly rotation. We’d take turns getting upset about something relatively minor — one friend wouldn’t call when she said she would, another would flirt with that cute boy we’d all been crushing on.

Whatever the origin of the sulk, the aggrieved party would insist, “I’m not mad.” Resolving the conflict became impossible, because no one would ever admit they were angry.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that behavior is a classic example of passive-aggressive communication — and it’s an ineffective way to get your point across.

So why do some people persist in long sighs, insincere denials, and other hallmarks of passive aggression? It’s not that they’re stuck in middle school, experts say. It’s just one of the four basic communication styles: passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive.

Our communication style can be a powerful tool in building meaningful connections with others. Though our way of communicating may vary depending on the situation and the individual, we all tend to gravitate toward one dominant mode — and sometimes get entrenched in bad habits.

Research suggests the assertive style is the healthiest and most effective, although it’s normal to use one of the other types on occasion. When communication breaks down, it’s often because of conflicting styles.

“Communicating effectively is a good way to lower the amount of stress we’re experiencing individually and collectively,” says psychologist Randy Paterson, PhD, author of The Assertiveness Workbook. “As we think about the pain in the world, think about how much stems from people feeling profoundly alienated from one another.”

Understanding your own com­munication style — and learning how to identify the types of those around you — can foster more compassion and mutual respect in your most important relationships.

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