It’s a pretty romantic week ahead.

Not all of us have lawns to mow, but everyone can reap the benefits of the lawn mower exercise. This basic move—which is done by pulling a weight or resistance band diagonally across your body—is an excellent way to build strength in your shoulders and back.

Because your back and shoulders are some of the most used muscles (and therefore the most injured), it’s super important to strengthen them so you’re easily able to do everyday tasks (hello, carrying and putting away those heavy groceries!) without getting hurt.

Perhaps the best part? The lawn mower exercise doesn’t require much space or expensive equipment, and it’s adaptable to all fitness levels. TL;DR: It’s a great addition to at-home upper-body workout—and who doesn’t love that?

We reached out to functional fitness expert Noelle McKenzie, CPT, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Leading Edge Personal Trainers, for advice on how to do the exercise properly, why it’s beneficial, and more.

What is the lawn mower exercise?

The lawn mower exercise (sometimes called a lawn mower row) is a strength exercise designed to work your back and shoulder muscles. You can do it with a resistance band or dumbbell (check out these adjustable dumbbells!), depending on what equipment you have available.

The exercise is done by pulling the weight across your body in a diagonal motion—much like the motion of starting a lawn mower.

This is a great exercise for functional fitness because it improves your strength for lifting heavy things in your everyday life. Strengthening your shoulders and back can also help to improve posture and alleviate back pain caused by weak muscles or muscle imbalances.

How to do the lawn mower exercise with perfect form

Photo: Noelle McKenzie, CPT
  1. Start standing with your feet together, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in toward your body.
  2. Step your right foot about 6 to 12 inches back, keeping it straight. Lift your right heel off the floor, balancing on the toes of your right foot. Your left leg should be bent in front of you.
  3. Lean your torso forward at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  4. Let your right arm hang down toward the floor. You can rest your left arm on your left thigh for stability if needed.
  5. Keeping your back flat and core tight, retract your shoulder blades to pull your right shoulder down and back away from your neck.
  6. From here, pull the dumbbell toward your right hip by bending your elbow and squeezing your shoulder blades together to keep your scapula retracted.
  7. Your right elbow should move past your torso, and you should allow your T-spine (the middle section of your spine) to rotate slightly.
  8. Slowly return to the starting position, allowing the weight to pull your arm back down toward the floor in an extended position.
  9. Finish your set and repeat on the opposite side.

Lawn mower exercise muscles worked

The specific back and shoulder muscles the lawn mower exercise works include the following, according to McKenzie:

  • Latissimus dorsi (middle and lower back)
  • Rhomboids (upper back)
  • Trapezius (neck, shoulders, and upper back)
  • Rear deltoids (shoulders)
  • Biceps (upper arm)
  • Forearms (lower arm)
  • Obliques (the sides of your trunk)
  • Transverse abdominis (deepest abdominal muscle)

Benefits of the lawn mower exercise

The lawn mower exercise has the obvious benefits of improving strength and building muscle in your back and shoulders, but that’s not all it has to offer.

“Because it requires the twisting of your body, it’s great for training rotational movements, which work on opening up your T-spine,” McKenzie says.

It’s also an excellent exercise for functional fitness, aka the fitness you require for everyday activities, and improving your posture.

McKenzie also notes that the lawn mower exercise helps improve stability and muscle imbalances by training one side of yo

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