You wouldn’t believe how much mis-information there is on this! Just a simple search on google will give you thousands of differing opinions on whether it is a good or bad movement, some will claim it’s no good at all! I would say take a look at Dorian Yates and ask yourself, does this man look like he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to a big back? I really like this lift, it feels like it’s really hitting the lats hard performed properly, and unlike standard barbell rows or Pendlay rows, there is far less stress on the lower back. The biggest problem most have is executing the lift properly. Dorian used to use an underhand grip, but as the weights used were getting huge, he ended up doing the inevitable and injuring his bicep tendon and now uses a narrow overhand grip instead. The main two mistakes most people make are flaring out the elbows, and pausing at the top of the movement. This is a power movement and should be treated so. Use the heaviest weight you can and keep the body still! For a more in depth definition here’s the man himself.
Some of you may have heard of Kroc rows, some may even have used them in a back program. I personally have a real love/hate relationship with them as when performed correctly they are brutal! – Here’s the ‘Kroc’ himself on how to perform them correctly.
As for crunches, never has a particular exercise been more villainised than these! When addressing lordosis or anterior pelvic tilt (or even just plain abdominal training), a full sit-up is far more damaging as it engages the hip flexors which take over the movement once the lower back leaves the floor/bench. The very muscle needing to be stretched/loosened in all but the majority of people, not strengthened or tightened! Crunches can help to shorten the rectus abdomnis and ‘pull the pelvis forward but far better are reverse crunches – Not only can they help alleviate Lordosis as the pelvis tilts posteriorly to initiate the movement, but also do not aggravate Kyphosis like crunches do as the upper back stays on the ground, shoulders can be kept retracted and the head/neck relaxed. Of course this would be in conjunction with lengthening aforementioned hip flexors and quads and strengthening glutes and hamstrings. As these are a relatively easy exercise for anyone with a strong core from lifting, i.e. if you can perform 10 or more easily, try using a decline bench (head at highest level), hanging knee raises to chest (avoid straight leg raises as these will make you arch your lower back) or hanging knees-to-elbows (without swinging or using momentum).