Exercises You Should Be Doing: 2-Bench Plank/DB Row

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As some of you may or may not know I’ve been banged up as of late, and haven’t really been training up to my normal standards. I’m still heading to the gym everyday, of course (I work in one, so I have no excuse not to), but it’s been a bit of a downer the past few weeks knowing that I’m unable to do many of the things I’d really like to do.

Sometimes, though, we have to follow our own advice.  I’ve been quoted as saying that part of the job of a strength coach and personal trainer is to play the bad guy sometimes and force our clients into doing what they need to do, and not what they want to do.

Using myself as an example, I want more than anything else to head to the gym, load a metric shit ton on the bar, deadlift that sucker from the floor, and then get so fired up that I tear infants in half.

Okay, I got a little carried away there. Admittedly that’s a bit much………..

……..but I DO miss heading to the gym and training with some gusto and panache in my step.

Call me crazy, but performing endless repetitions of supine dying bugs is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But, unfortunately, that’s what has to be done at this point in time.

The good news: My back is feeling better. The bad news: It’s just a slow, mind-numbing process and I’m bored to tears.

Goddammit – I hate taking my own advice.  I want to lift heavy stuff!!!  You’te ruining my life Tony, I hate you!!!!!!!!

*turns around, stomps up the stairs, and slams door*

All theatrics aside, a few weeks ago I asked my good friend, Dean Somerset, if he’d be willing to help me out and write up a little sumthin sumthin for me to follow to hopefully get myself back on track sooner rather than later.

He came through with flying colors and I’ve been following his program for the past week.  I’ve often been quoted as saying you can ALWAYS train an injury, and Dean certainly concurs!

While I won’t give away all his trade secrets, I will say that he’s definitely provided a nice mix of the corrective stuff I need to be doing in conjunction with some cool stuff I’ve never done before.

Which brings us to today’s exercise you should be doing:

2-Bench DB Plank/Row

What Does It Do:  Before I get to that, I have to say that I’ve done my fair share of exercises that make me hate life – bulgarian split squats, turkish get-ups, high rep squats, Prowler pushes, etc – but as simple as this one looks, it’s about as enjoyable as setting your face on fire.

To that end, this is an excellent exercise that trains both core stability while simultaneously allowing for one to get a bit more horizontal pulling into their repertoire.

The added “row” component really pushes the envelop in terms of making this a brutal core stability exercise, though.  That’s where the true benefit lies.

Key Coaching Cues:  Again, this looks simple and I know there are going to be a lot of people who are going to scoff when they watch the video – how hard can it be Gentilcore???? – but I’m telling you when it’s performed correctly, it’s brutal.

Start with a lighter DB than you think – in the video I used a 30 lb DB, and that was plenty – and assume the starting position with your opposite forearm resting on one bench and your toes on the other.

As with any plank variation you want to make certain that the body is in a complete straight line from your head to the toes, so you’ll need to make a concerted effort to not poke your head forward or allow the hips to hike or sag.  If you do, lower the weight being used.  And, after that, if you still can’t perform the movement correctly without compensating, it’s too advanced you need to take a step back and regress as needed.

In addition, you’ll want to brace your abs, squeeze your glutes, and don’t forget to breath!

Perform 5-8 repetitions on one side, and repeat on the other.

Good luck.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  • Great exercise Tony!

  • Lars Krogstad

    that looked awesome! Do you perform  5-8 repetitions on one side, rest,  and repeat on the other, or do you do both sides at once?

    • TonyGentilcore

      I usually take a rest in between sides.

    • Grant Pierce


  • deansomerset

    Well done sir. The video looked fantastic. I would add as a coaching cue that a lot of people rotate away from the dumbell loaded side in order to balance the off-set load, so you would want to almost lean into the weight to get back to neutral, so to speak. Glad to hear the back is coming along nicely!!!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Well, I still have some work to do.  Hip hinging still bothers it at times, but that’s just a matter of me learning not to hinge through my lumbar spine.

      It sucks, I still feel like I have such a long ways to go……..but I know I just need to be patient.

      Goodmornings felt surprisingly good today. Worked up to 175 lbs with no issues.

      • deansomerset

        Beauty!! You’ll be back pulling heavy in no time. Phase two may actually cause your brain to melt out your ears, just a little.

        • TonyGentilcore

          Ohhhhhhh, I can’t wait!!!!!

  • And then there is the ever-populat office planking!

    From a Facebook Thread:
    Planking in Attensity offices is rampant. Our core is as strong as our core technology — with Will Saso.Like ·  · Unfollow Post · ShareJeanne Cooper, Julia Kim and 3 others like this.1 shareBrigitte Schimek Office planking? Now I’ve seen everything.June 11, 2011 at 12:45pm · LikeWill Saso Nothing like putting a good crease in some cheap dress shoes:)June 11, 2011 at 1:51pm · LikeKarl Watanabe Watch out for those company secrets on the white board.June 11, 2011 at 11:53pm · LikeDaniel Freedman Now all you need is a heavy kettlebell for a killer workout you can do at the office in about 12 to 14 minutes. In each of 5 rounds: do 5 KB snatches right, 5 KB snatches left, 20 KB swings, and then hold a plank for the length of time in took you to do the kettlebell work. Post times to office whiteboard and hilarity will ensue,June 12, 2011 at 6:58am · LikeIan Hersey How heavy a kettlebell? I have several at home. 30 lbs?June 12, 2011 at 11:47am · Like

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahahahahahaha.  That’s awesome Daniel.

  • Njh28

    You mentioned you have a difficult time not hinging from your lumbar spine.  What are some cues you would use to prevent this from happening? 

    • TonyGentilcore

      Using a mirror – literally. I’ve resorted to doing some simple “rock back” drills looking at myself in the mirror to make sure that I don’t immediately drop into lumbar extension. It’s kind of creepy, but sexy too….;o)

      • TonyGentilcore

        Also, doing the hip hinge drill with a PVC stick is highly effective as well.

  • Matt Kenny

    Definitely a tough one. I taught it to my students earlier this year and they felt the same way – face on fire. I saw one yesterday that you may enjoy. In a plank position, use your right hand to pick up small weight plates on the left side of your body. Set them on your right side. Repeat on the left side. 

    • TonyGentilcore

      Ah yes, prone plate switches. I think I highlighted that on my blog like 2-3 years ago. I rule!!!!

      Great exercise.

  • Stephane Robert

    That doesn’t look fun…almost as fun as the hill sprinting session I just finished…

  • Joe

    Oh mama, that looks tough.  Done enough core exercises to know.  Reminds me of the degree of difficulty of the one leg dumbbell deadlift. Thanks for the demo.


    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks for reading Joe! Really appreciate it.

  • I just completed my own workout feeling awesome and wanting to continue. Then I did this and didn’t want to continue any more! Nice one.

    • TonyGentilcore

      HA! Well, I guess I did my job then. Thanks for sharing Anna.

  • Mike Richards

    i think its pretty cool to see a coaching session for coach tony on the comments here, good stuff

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  • Awesome! Video is much interesting and providing nice tips of doing exercise in a proper way..

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