Inverted Row Exercise Guide – Exercise Video, Benefits, and Modifications

Bodyweight training is not always a breeze. Some movements, like the inverted row, are often needed to be modified for lifters all various levels and goals. In this article we will go through how to properly perform the inverted row, why you need to do more of them, and how to integrate them (and their modifications) into your training program.

Inverted Row Exercise Demo

Below is a video demonstration on how to perform the inverted row. Additionally, we will cover some fast and effective variations one can do with the inverted row modify for all ability levels.

Benefits of the Inverted Row

Below are a few reasons why the inverted row is a great movement for all fitness levels and goals.

Scalable Movement

A truly inverted row is very difficult, even for strong, muscular men like myself. The great thing about this movement is that not only can it be trained in a wide array of repetition ranges and goals (strength, hypertrophy, endurance), it can be modified simply be moving the beet backwards and bringing the body more upright (less inverted) in a second or less, instantly making it a very modifiable movement for all fitness levels.

Back Development and Stability

The row itself is a great movement for overall back development. The addition of the inverted positioning places a great deal of muscular stress on the grip, back, lower back, core, and body. Increasing overall strength, movement, and stabilization of the spine and shoulders throughout this movement can result in better awareness and preparation for more advance training and movements.

Grip, Arm, and Upper Body Strength

The simple act of gripping the bar, ring, or whatever you are using during the inverted row is highly taxing on the grip, arms, and back. The ability to withstand grip fatigue and remain in control over long duration sets (45 seconds or more) will lead to increase muscular hypertrophy of even the smallest of muscles.

Body Awareness and Midline Stabilization

Body awareness and midline stability are necessary attribute a lifter and athlete must posses to truly maximize their efforts within the gym and the translation of those movement to real life and athletic movements. Many trainees fail to have a strong sense of posture, total body control and tension development, and muscular strength relative to their body weight. Inverted rows are a great way to address each.

Can Perform Them Anywhere

The inverted row is a movement that anyone can usually find a place to do, whether in the gym, on vacation, or at the playground with their kids. The simplicity of the movement makes it highly appealing as a “basic” bodyweight movement, group fitness scalable workout option, and overall back and grip developer.

How to Modify the Inverted Row

Modifying the inverted row is very, very easy. Let’s assume you have three athletes, one can do a fully supinated inverted row, such as in the video demo above, but the other two cannot. If this was to happen, all the athlete needs to do is move their feet off the bench/box, and place them onto the floor, which will decrease the amount of load needed to be lifted and change the angle of pull. Let’s then assume another athlete still cannot perform a modified inverted row. In this case, we would simply have them take a step backwards so that the body is less parallel to the floor and more vertical, decreasing the amount of loading on the back and arms further.

How to Program Inverted Rows

The great thing about inverted rows is that they are a movement that can be done for strength (low reps), hypertrophy (moderate rep range), and even muscular endurance (higher reps). Depending on the level of the lifter/client, inverted rows can be done at varying degrees of inversion with feet on the ground of propped on to of something for added demand. I recommend most trainees stick to the 8-12 rep range to develop the skill, muscular strength and mass, and grip endurance needed for most fitness sports. Once that is developed, you can increase complexity with feet up or down and/or the repetition schemes.

More Back Training Articles

Here are a few more articles you can read to develop back strength and hypertrophy specific to deadlifts, squats, Olympic lifts, and more!

Featured Image: @jaytizzygram on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

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