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Every Serious Lifter Needs the Inverted Row – Bigger Stronger Leaner – Forums

14 Variations to Try

The inverted row is staple for any goal: size, strength, athleticism, or structural balance. Here are 14 challenging ways to do it.


If you can bench press your bodyweight ten times but can’t do the strict inverted row ten times, then your relative strength sucks, and so does your back development… probably.

Every time you do an extra set of bench presses without also adding an extra set of horizontal rows, you’re becoming more structurally unbalanced. Not only will your body start letting you down, it’ll actually refuse to build size and strength in the exercises or muscles you care about most.

If you’re structurally unbalanced, the muscles pulling your shoulders and scapula in one direction are proportionally weaker than the muscles pulling them in the opposite direction.

This not only includes your prime movers, like your pecs versus your mid-traps, but your shoulder stabilizers as well. Your muscles need to be strong in all directions. And arguably, it’s the ones you see the least that need the most attention.

Bottom line? You need to be doing more horizontal pulls and rows to even that out. Inverted rows are your prescription. Pick one of these options and get to work.

1. Inverted Ring Row


Rings allow your shoulders to move more freely and use any grip or angle you like. You can stick with one grip throughout the pulling motion or give it a twist… literally. When doing this for the first time, go with whichever grip feels the most natural.

You want the grip to feel good so you can place more attention on keeping your hips straight and locked out.

For the hardest option, start with your feet on a bench. To go easier, bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor. For the easiest option, stand more upright.

The next step to making them even harder is adding a weighted vest or some chains.

2. Cuffed Inverted Row


Cuffed inverted rows work best using rings or a suspension trainer. That’s because, unlike many scenarios where a booty band is misapplied, here it actually does something.

The booty band is constantly pulling your arms toward each other. Imagine that happening while tracking the action of the row.

As your arms are closer in, there’s more of a pull of your shoulders towards internal rotation. That means your external rotators have to resist.

As your arms are further away, there’s more emphasis on resisting horizontal adduction. That means your shoulder horizontal abductors are working harder, too.

Basically, at various points of the row, the muscles you need to be working more often are getting a big wake-up call. Use cuffed inverted rows to hit your external rotators, rear delts, and back.

3. Overhand Inverted Row


Bars are stiff. Stiffness will give you more control. With more control and support, you’re able to get your body organized easier and focus on your back working. This is better for those who would otherwise struggle with using something unstable like Olympic rings.

On the other hand, a stiff bar also means less freedom for your shoulders and wrists, which means more wear and tear potential due to suboptimal joint alignment.

Experiment with different grip widths and rowing angles to see which works best. You can even try using an extra-wide grip for more rhomboids emphasis.

4. Underhand Inverted Row


Using an underhand grip may be the most comfortable grip when using a straight bar. Your elbows will be less likely to flare out, and you might be able to lift yourself up further.

You’ll get a little more bicep activation, but the rowing angle might also allow you to get full scapula retraction at the top and greater mid and lower trap activation. Tucking your elbows in will work your lats a little harder, too.

5. Inverted Row With Rope


Grab a battling rope and throw it over your pull-up bar. Now you’ve received your self some fairly badass-looking inverted rows that wouldn’t be misplaced in any program.

The grip and wrist angles are particular to loads of sport and every day actions, and the thickness of the rope can have your forearms working such as you want them to. To make them much more difficult, search for thicker ropes.

6. Rope Climb Inverted Row


Rope climb inverted rows are an ideal choice to improve your performance for military, fire and rescue, law enforcement, and Spartan race events. Don’t underestimate how difficult these are, especially for your grip and forearm strength.

Begin with your feet on the floor and allow your legs to help out a little. To make them harder, elevate your feet on a bench and use a weighted vest. Chalk up if needed.

7. Inverted Row With Bar Pad


Bar pads are a good way to modify the range of motion. Just as you can bench press with a bar pad to save a cranky shoulder from a painful range of motion, you can do the same with rows and inverted rows.

If you struggle to get your chest all the way to the bar, the pad means you don’t need to worry about that last inch for now. It gives you a closer target for your chest to hit until, eventually, you can do it without the pad.

8. Inverted Row With NT Loop Band


Want to make things harder? Add an NT Loop to the carry. When you may argue that utilizing a resistance band on this situation will make the toughest a part of the row even more durable, you additionally overlook that generally extra “optimum” loading choices aren’t within the playing cards.

If you happen to can’t add weight to your inverted rows since you don’t have a weighted vest, or putting a weight throughout your hips is uncomfortable, a band may be the subsequent finest strategy to make them tougher. There are additionally some situations the place you may really wish to be loading the highest of the row much more. Context is vital.

9. Inverted Row Drop Set


If you enjoy kicking your own ass or take pleasure in seeing your training partner squirm, try performing drop sets. Start with a heavy weight across your hips, then strip it off as you start failing. You can even put your feet on the floor and bend your knees to knock out some extra reps.

10. Swiss Bar Inverted Row


The Swiss bar is likely one of the most underused items of package, not only for bench and ground urgent, however for issues like push-ups, overhead presses, and rows.

You may as well use the Swiss bar for inverted rows. This lets you row with a hard and fast impartial grip with the selection of various grip widths. Use the narrowest grip to essentially hammer your forearms and higher arms. Use wider grips to focus on completely different areas of your again.

11. Slender-Grip Fats Bar Inverted Row


Fat bars are great for curls and presses, but with rows, your performance can often be limited by a lack of forearm and grip strength. To turn those weaknesses into strengths, use a fat bar for inverted rows.

If you don’t have a thick bar, put some Fat Gripz in your straight bar, and even wrap a towel across the bar to thicken the grip and improve the problem. Utilizing a narrower grip may even assist add some meat to your forearms and higher arms.

12. Lure Bar Inverted Row


Trap bars come in various designs with different lengths and grip widths. Not all work for inverted rows, but those that do offer some unique benefits to your back and shoulder health.

The trap bar offers an element of instability, which depending on how you angle the bar, can challenge your stability in certain planes of motion. The standard setup allows the trap bar to move in the sagittal plane (forward and backward).

What’s termed the “longitudinal method,” as popularized by Dr. Joel Seedman, would mean setting the trap bar up length-wise to your body where your grip would be on the front and back of the bar with it able to move side to side. Pick the method that’s best aligned with your goals.

13. Kettlebell Inverted Row


If you’re all show and no go, then you have no business trying this. Stick to the basics and do your inverted rows using rings or a straight or Swiss bar.

If, however, you’re training to be an elite fighter, for man-handling sports such as rugby, or for tactical strength and conditioning, then grab a kettlebell and try this.

All you’ll need is the strap from your Olympic rings or even a long daisy chain. Attach that to your pull-up bar, then hang your kettlebell from it. A larger kettlebell will be the hardest to grip, while a smaller one will be easier to start with.

14. Grappler’s Inverted Row


The hanging kettlebell method can be used to challenge your grip and forearms one side at a time while also working your entire back and posterior chain.

Pick the size of kettlebell that feels best and works your grip the right way. Row yourself up with some power, allowing your hips to help out a little. Have your other arm free and return your elbow to the floor.

Or you can even add some form of dumbbell, kettlebell, or band press on this side for a combined pull-push motion. For tactical strength and conditioning and grappling sports, these beat the basic inverted rows.



If you lack relative strength, inverted rows will really feel robust, however they can be carried out extra incessantly than loads of different workouts. This implies you may enhance quick.

In case your again is lagging, begin out with as a lot as 9-12 units per week of inverted rows, however unfold them out over 3-5 days. You may do 3-4 units on three of your exercises, or just some units 4-6 days every week.

If you happen to really feel your again power is as much as par, then simply 4-8 units every week might be greater than sufficient. Follow one or two variations for 4-6 exercises earlier than altering it up.

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