Activate Your Core and Build Balanced Upper-Body Strength With Antonio Gates

The complement to San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates' pure athleticism is a disciplined—and sophisticated—approach to training.

"It's about quality reps for me," Gates told us during a recent in-season workout at the Chargers facility. "Your core and balance are part of being strong, and that's the bulk of my weight lifting."

Sharpening Gates' focus on core strength is the Bent-Over Single-Arm Row, which he performs during the season. The elite TE makes it more functional by performing the Dumbbell Row in a standing position as opposed to leaning or kneeling on a flat bench.

According to Chargers strength coach Jeff Hurd, by standing, Gates engages core muscles and other stabilizers that would not be worked with the standard Dumbbell Row. Hurd adds, "This also forces you to have a real good posture."

Finally, by performing the Bent-Over Single-Arm Row, Gates develops independent arm strength. He says, "To get each arm stronger individually, it's a step toward being strong on the field. Guys are too athletic in this league to be able to get two hands on them, so I just individually try to get each arm as strong as possible."

Bent-Over Single-Arm Row

  • Hold dumbbell in right hand with palm facing body
  • Assume split stance with right leg staggered back
  • Bring dumbbell to chest, keeping elbow tight to body
  • Slowly lower dumbbell to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 3x12 each arm

Coaching Points: Flex hips and keep core tight // Keep chest behind front knee // Maintain good, strong posture // Do not use momentum or low back to pull dumbbell // Perform in controlled manner

Coach Hurd: "If you haven't done these before, you should put a hand or knee on the bench so you can stabilize until you get your core stronger to maintain that posture."

Photo:  German Alegria


Zac Clark Zac Clark - Zac Clark is a freelance writer who formerly served as STACK's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine at the USA Hockey national headquarters in Colorado Springs. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bache
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