The inverted row is a classic back exercise that has been shown to be a very efficient, all-around exercise to hit the back muscles, including the Latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, trapeziuses, and biceps depending on hand grip. It’s a great way to help balance out a typical workout that is chest or pressing heavy.

The inverted row has many variations that can challenge lifters from beginner to advanced. This article will cover the teaching of the basics and some variations for the advanced lifter.

For Beginners

First, set the bar or straps high enough to prevent your back from coming into contact with the ground when your arms are fully extended and your body is parallel to the ground. When you are under the bar, your hand position can vary with palms either facing towards or away from your face.

Then align your chest with the bar and place your feet on the ground with knees nearing ninety degrees. From there you must engage your core and keep your hips in line with your shoulders, flexing at elbows and pulling your chest to the bar. When coaching this movement, be sure that the athlete’s hips do not drop or thrust up and they do not just bringing their chin to the bar. Have them come down slowly and repeat for a desired amount of reps.

For Advanced Athletes

Variations of the inverted row can include changing foot positioning or elevation to a stationary surface (like a bench) and increasing the difficulty by using a dynamic surface (like a stability ball) for very advanced lifters. This will increase the angle of the movement along with the degree of intensity.

Another variation is alternate side rows. During this variation, athletes pull themselves to the bar from an angle, alternating between right and left. There is also the corncob variation, during which the athlete will pull up to the bar, slide their chest far to the right and to the left, come back to center, and control down.

The inverted row provides a simple set-up and body weight movement which is easy to implement with beginner to advanced athletes and effectively strengthens the mid back.

It’s time to add inverted rows to your programs!

Want to read more from Jeff? Here’s his last article: Increase Movement with Functional Movement Screening Tests