You may have seen people in the gym or in videos online doing all sorts of weird and wonderful exercises over the past few years. The the Internet to supply it and the rise of functional training worldwide it is inevitable that we will see new, exciting and intriguing moves from time to time.

I wanted to talk about a rather common place one today, and yet one that very few people do, either by lack of knowledge or just plain ignorance. The Inverted Row.

What does it look like:


Usually a body weight exercise or one using an added plate or weighted vest to make the move harder. But it is a great tool for many reasons;

  1. Simple to scale- whether you are using a barbell or a TRX strap it is very easy to make this easier or more challenging depending on where you are right now in your training journey. It all comes down to feet position. Either you step your feet forwards or back. If you are standing up taller, feet on the floor leaning back it should be easier. The further you walk under the bar, increasing the angle the harder it gets as more of your weight is hanging from your arms. To take it a step further, quite literally, get a step or bench and put your feet up on it, making the angle almost parallel to the floor and really challenging your strength.
  2. Easy to do – just lean back and pull, okay there may be a bit more to it but essentially you lean back, keep your body straight and core braced and then pull yourself to the bar and back down, similar to a dumbbell row or bent over row.
  3. Little equipment- you only need a barbell and squat rack to do this, or a smith machine, or a simple cheap and easy to buy TRX strap that can be used at home on your door frame if needed.
  4. Good for everyone- It is a body weight movement, and the movement pattern is very simple lean back and pull. And with a small angle it can be perfect for kids, or beginners, or people with levels of injury as well as the top level athlete.
  5. Provides great training variety – it is novel, different, and yet super transferable across multiple training goals, strength, weight loss, muscle gain, and it allows you to do a common movement a little differently. It is also great for circuit training because it is just grab the handle, walk into the angle and pull.

I usually include it in my training as either an AMRAP of how many I can do in 10 minutes or as a 4 sets of 10 reps with a full parallel to the floor angle.

The benefits:

  • Stronger back and arms – the same way as heavy rows, or pull ups will build your muscle tone and strength the same is true here. Gradually over time increase the angle of the rows and you will get stronger an more definition.
  • Increased core stability and strength – holding that straight line, not letting your hips drop or your back arch will build plank like strength in the core.

Try it next time you are doing a pull or back day and feel the benefits for yourself!

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