Active Seniors

An easily neglected movement in home exercise programs

It is great to see so many people inspired and motivated to exercise at home during this lockdown period. While there are many options for exercise that require no to minimal exercise equipment, there is one key movement that is much harder in the absence of equipment; pulling movements. While its opposite counterpart, pushing, is easy to do – think push-ups – pulling is not so simple.

Why do we need pulling movements?

The reason we need pulling movements in our life is for balance. Pushing movements engage the muscles in the chest and front of the shoulder area. Pulling movements on the other hand, use the muscles in the back area. In a time where people are sitting more than ever before, strengthening to back muscles using pulling movements is an important strategy to prevent back pain and to counteract poor posture.

But how?

Here are 2 simple exercises that you can do with minimal equipment, involving a pulling motion:

Isometric pull using a towel over a door handle.

This is a great that works the back muscles and is easy to modify according to your own level of strength. It is a good idea to place a stopper or a towel either side of the door to stop it from moving while you do the exercise. Anchor a towel around the door handle and then pull and hold the towel as hard as you comfortably can in differing angles of elbow bend. You can make this exercise more difficult by simply pulling harder or by increasing the time that you hold each sustained pull. To start with aim for 5 pulls holding for between 5 and 10 seconds on each arm and repeat this twice.

Bent over row using household objects.

Holding the weight (eg a can) in one hand, bend forward at the waist and place your hand on a chair making sure to keep your back nice and straight. Start with a straight arm directly below your body (hanging without effort) and then pull the weight towards your side by bending your elbow. Keep your body (aside from the arm of course) as still as possible throughout the movement. You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by increasing the weight of the object you use, increasing the number of repetitions that you perform and also by slowing the movement down. To start with, aim for 10 repetitions on each arm and repeat this twice.


While movement is always important, so too is getting the balance right to make sure that all areas of the body are being looked after appropriately. Be sure to you reach out to the team at Active Seniors if you want to make sure that your home exercise program balances out YOUR needs.

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