How-To Perform Proper Renegade Rows and Why Everyone Should Use Them

This dynamic training tool can used for every athlete with benefit!

The renegade row is a great dynamic exercise that holds multiple benefits for every level fitness enthusiast. Whether you’re a beginner or a weathered gym rat, there’s more than likely a renegade row variation out there that can help you tackle whatever training adaptations you’re aiming to accomplish.

Unlike most rowing variations that focus primarily on the upper back and lats, the renegade row provides a solid stimulus for those muscles and the core as well. On top of producing a strength stimulus for multiple muscles, the renegade row is also a useful tool for improving midline stability and coordination when moving external loads.

In this article, we’re going to dive into how-to properly perform renegade rows, their benefits, mistakes, variations, and how you can use them in your program for various training adaptations. And if you’re a visual learner, then check out the video below! 

How-To Properly Renegade Row

1. Set Your Base

Take an extended plank position with dumbbells under your shoulders. Position the feet between hip and shoulder width apart depending on the width of base you desire. The wider you go with the feet, then the easier the row will be. 

2. Brace Similarly to An Extended Plank

Similar to how you brace for an extended plank, contract the core, squeeze the glutes, drive the heels into the ground, and brace before movement initiation. To help with the bracing process, think about setting joints one at a time: ankles, knees, hips, core, and upper body.

How-To Renegade Row

3. Initiate the Row Similarly to a Dumbbell Row

When you initiate the row, think about using the same form used in the traditional dumbbell row. To help visualize this, think about the movement pattern needed to start a lawnmower and repeat this with the dumbbell using the lat to initiate the lift. 

4. Control the Eccentric

At the top of the row, control the weight back to the ground maintaining your strong braced posture. If you’re swinging the dumbbell or hiking up the hips, then scale back the weight!

Renegade Row

Renegade Row Benefits

There are three major benefits that come with adding renegade rows to your program. Note, there are more than three benefits that come with this movement, but these are three biggest benefits everyone can obtain. 

1. Improve Midline Stability

The renegade row requires skill to perform and improves midline stability. To be successful with the renegade row, lifters need to maintain a braced posture, then exert force and control that same force.

This requires multiple joints, muscles, and areas on the body to work in unison to fight and maintain a braced position which will improve midline stability. Improved midline stability can have carryover to multiple sports and areas of life. 

2. Increase Upper Back and Lat Hypertrophy

The renegade row can be a tool to strengthen the upper back and lats due to it’s primary movement pattern (the row). When supplemented into programs, the renegade row can be a great tool for accruing extra pulling volume to produce hypertrophy without overloading the back with excessive amounts of weight. 

Renegade Row Muscles Worked

3. Great for Scaling

Every level of fitness enthusiast can benefit with renegade rows, and this movement is incredibly easy to scale with its intensity. With the renegade row you can scale weight, implements, movement patterns, and much more.

In addition to being easy to scale, you don’t need a lot of equipment to properly perform renegade rows, so they’re a great dynamic training tool in nearly every workout setting. 

Renegade Row Muscles Worked

The renegade row is going to produce a stimulus for multiple muscles on the body. For example, every muscle that is involved in the isometric bracing process will receive some benefit similar to how a plank produces benefit for the core, glutes, quads, and everything that is being maximally contracted to maintain position. 

Renegade Row Prime Movers

The prime movers involved in the renegade row are very similar to what is used during the dumbbell row and these muscles include: 

  • Lats
  • Rhomboids
  • Traps 
  • Biceps (synergist) 

Renegade Row Mistakes

There are two common mistakes that come along with renegade rows. These mistakes are typically accompanied by two things 1) using too much weight, and 2) positioning the body incorrectly before working through reps. 

Renegade Row Mistakes

1. Opening the Shoulders and Hips

The Mistake: The first mistake is usually the product of using too much weight for the renegade row. For this movement, you want the hips and shoulders to remain a relatively neutral/parallel to the ground.

The Fix: If you’re hiking up the hips or shoulders in order to move weight, then it might be worth scaling back the intensity. 

Renegade Row Mistake

2. Lifting the Feet

The Mistake: The feet are one of the toughest characteristics to nail in the inverted row. It’s important to find a stance width that allows you to maintain their contact with the ground throughout the full rowing process.

The Fix: If the feet are lifting off the ground or moving around a lot, then it might be worth exploring a new stance width and how much weight is being used. 

Renegade Row Variations

As mentioned above, one of the best benefits of the renegade row is how easy it is to scale and modify. Below, we’ve included three variations you can perform with the traditional renegade row. 

Renegade Row Variation

1. Row, Row, Push-Up

For this variation, you’ll perform your traditional renegade rows, then hit a push-up before completing a full rep.

So each rep will look like a row, row, and push-up!

Renegade Row Kettlebells

2. Kettlebell Renegade Row

The kettlebell renegade row is a great variation for lifters who want to improve how stable they are throughout the row. This variation can be useful for anyone trying to really push their shoulder stability when performing the inverted row. 

Note: This variation should be reserved for advanced athletes and kettlebells can be unstable at times with their bases (kettlebells that don’t have a flat bottom finish), so use implements mindfully!

Renegade Row Feet Elevated

3. Feet Elevated

The feet elevated inverted row is an incredibly tough variation. Since you’re limiting two points of contact, then the core and hips need to work extremely hard to maintain their braced posture. 

Wrapping Up

The inverted row is an awesome dynamic training tool that can help everyone build stronger upper backs, lats, and core. This movement is also great for teaching proprioception and kinesthetic awareness with one’s body and how it’s moving. 

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master’s in Sports Science and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,300 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake’s bread-and-butter.

Leave a Comment