Throughout previous articles we discussed a total body movement that increases back and arm strength, core stability, and increases metabolic demands for any lifter performing them. The renegade row can be done in a variety of variations (tall plank, knees down, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.) In this article, we will discuss one of the most challenging renegade row variations, which entails a lifter to use a pair of kettlebells (instead of dumbbells), which is thoroughly discussed below complete with exercise demo, muscles, worked, and exercise benefits.
The renegade row targets nearly every muscle in the body, however places a higher emphasis on the back, arms and core. While using kettlebells, the increased stability and balance needed results in greater demands on the body. Below is a complete listing of the muscles used during the renegade row with kettlebells.
- Lats (back)
Renegade Row with Kettlebells (Exercise Demo)
Below is an exercise demo on how to perform the renegade row with kettlebells, which is highly similar to the dumbbell kettlebell row. The use of the kettlebell in the renegade row will increase the complexity and difficulty of the movement.
Benefits of Using Kettlebells
Below is a listing of various benefits that one can expect to get from performing the renegade row, especially with the kettlebells.
Increased Wrist and Shoulder Stability
If you have ever tried to perform the renegade row on kettlebells, you will surely agree with this one. The imbalanced weight distribution of the kettlebell, mixed with the increased height of the handle and body from the floor can lead to greater instability at the weakest points in the movement. Those points are typically the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, as the lifter is forced to slow the movement down in order to not fall or have the wrist buckle under poor stability or lack of balance. When looking to force lifters to take their time and emphasize correct technique and stability, I find this kettlebell variation to be better than dumbbells as it is a “sink or swim” movement…either the lifter takes their time and performs it properly, or they fail.
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Renegade row – a fantastic anti rotation exercise. Once you can hold a plank for 60 seconds there really is no more benefit to holding the pose. This exercise is a really challenging variation on the plank that activates the deep core muscles. I'm making it a little harder by elevating my feet – makes it harder as I can't push my feet in to initiate the pull. 💪🏻
Greater Demand of Balance and Control
As stated above, the necessity of the lifter to stabilize the body and establish complete control of the upper body, wrist, core, and lower body throughout the entire range of motion (both lifting the weight and returning it to the ground) can lead to significant improvements in technique and coordination of this complex total body movement.
Increased Core Strength
The benefit of using kettlebells for the renegade row is that it increases a lifter’s need for control, stability, and focus to perform the row without having the kettlebell topple over. By increasing the complexity, the lifter must take a longer time to perform the movement, with more focused contractions and emphasis on core stability and strength. In addition, after the row is performed, the lifter must remain braced and tight in the core and lower back as the weight is being returned to the floor as to not topple the base hand/kettlebell over.
Progression to Increase Difficulty
When looking to increase the demands of a particular movement on a lifter we increase the load, repetitions, tempo, speed, and more. The renegade row with the kettlebell in turn increases the demand through multiple factors. For starters, the lifter must exhibit greater control and stability as the kettlebell itself is much more unstable than a fixed, evenly distributed, lower object such as a dumbbell. Secondly, the tempo/speed of the movement is inherently slower and more controlled typically, for the purpose of increasing control and stability.
More About the Renegade Row
Take a look at some of these renegade row articles to increase your core stability, back and arm strength, and more!
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Editor’s Note: Thaddeus Owen, Co-founder of PrimalHacker, had this to say after reading the above article.
“I haven’t done focused core work in years and still have six pack abs and a strong core because of my Kettlebell training. The renegade row works your core like nothing else! Not only do you have to balance on one arm you are also lifting weight under extreme control. I’ve trained with the guys who learned directly from Pavel and taught special forces. These guys don’t do traditional core exercises and are stronger than most. The Renegade Row is one of my go to moves for overall fitness and strength and one of the key moves I use for Spartan Race training. Give it a try. I like combining it with pushups on the bells.”