Robert Downey Jr. might be out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for good, but he’s still providing fans of Iron Man with new content, courtesy of his throwback posts on Instagram which show how he got into superhero shape to play Tony Stark in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
In his most recent training video, shared to Instagram yesterday, Downey can be seen completing a roped sled pull—which mimics the motion of a traditional row that you might perform with a dumbbell—and then a sled push.
“Basically that’s a really, really functional row,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “It’s very real-world, and it’s also more fun than a ton of rows on a machine or with a dumbbell. The trick is that it does get rotational as a row (torso going this way and that), so it’s key for the user to work to create rotation and movement from the right spots. Rotate at the chest and shoulder blades first (thoracic spine), and try to keep your hips steady to protect your lower back.”
Sled training, an intense but relatively pain-free form of exercise frequently used to simultaneously burn fat and build muscle, is a firm favorite of Downey’s MCU co-star Chris Hemsworth. The actor recently shared a clip of himself performing a grueling roped sled pull and push with a weighted prowler during a workout while filming Thor: Love and Thunder.
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However, Samuel goes on to explain that the benefits of a move like the sled rope row will be maximal when used as part of a wider arsenal of exercises.
“The issue with this long-term is that you do miss out on two important contractions,” he adds. “You get a strong concentric as you pull back, but your body never learns the isometric or eccentric contractions it’s capable of. So mix moves like this into your training, but keep the classic dumbbell and barbell rows in your rotation too.”
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