How to Do Inverted Row


The inverted row, also known as the bodyweight row or Australian pull-up, is a highly effective compound exercise that targets the muscles of the upper back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. This versatile exercise is an excellent addition to any workout routine, whether you're a beginner looking to build foundational strength or an advanced lifter seeking to enhance your back development. 

Here you will know:

  • How to Do Inverted Row
  • Inverted Row Muscles Worked
  • Benefits of Inverted Rows
  • Tips for Progression and Safety
  • 10 Inverted Row Alternatives
  • 5 Inverted Rows Variations
  • Incorporating Inverted Rows into Your Routine
  • Final Thoughts

How to Do Inverted Row


Set Up: Position a bar at hip-height or use suspension straps attached to an anchor point. Lie on your back underneath the bar or straps, gripping it with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.

Body Alignment: Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core and glutes to maintain this alignment throughout the exercise.

Shoulder Blade Position: Initiate the movement by retracting your shoulder blades (pulling them towards each other) as you pull your chest towards the bar or handles.

Pulling Motion: While maintaining the straight body position, pull your chest towards the bar or handles. Keep your elbows close to your sides.

Controlled Lowering: Lower your body back down in a controlled manner, fully extending your arms.

Breathing: Inhale as you lower yourself down and exhale as you pull your body towards the bar.

Inverted Row Muscles Worked

Inverted Row Muscles Worked


The inverted row is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscles, particularly those of the upper back and the arms. Here are the primary muscles worked during an inverted row:

Latissimus Dorsi (Lats): These are the large muscles that run down the sides of your back. They play a key role in pulling movements and contribute significantly to the pulling motion in inverted rows.

Rhomboids: Located between the shoulder blades, the rhomboids are responsible for retracting the scapulae, which is a crucial action during the rowing movement.

Trapezius (Upper and Middle): The trapezius muscles help stabilize the shoulder blades and contribute to the scapular retraction and depression in the inverted row.

Rear Deltoids: These muscles, situated at the back of the shoulders, assist in the pulling motion and contribute to shoulder stability.

Biceps: The biceps muscles of the arms play a significant role in flexing the elbows during the rowing movement.

Forearm Muscles: The muscles of the forearms are engaged to grip the bar or handles during the exercise, enhancing grip strength.

Core Muscles: Your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, engage to stabilize your body during the rowing motion.

Lower Back Muscles: The muscles of the lower back, including the erector spinae, help maintain a neutral spine position during the exercise.

Benefits of Inverted Rows

Benefits of Inverted Rows


The inverted row offers a myriad of benefits that make it a staple in many fitness programs:

Back Strength: Inverted rows primarily target the muscles of the upper back. Regular practice can lead to improved back strength, helping with posture, daily activities, and other compound movements.

Scapular Stability: The exercise engages the muscles responsible for scapular retraction and depression, promoting stability in the shoulder blades.

Balanced Muscles: As an opposing movement to pressing exercises like push-ups and bench presses, inverted rows help maintain muscle balance around the shoulder joint.

Core Engagement: Inverted rows require core engagement for stability, contributing to core strength development.

Joint-Friendly: This bodyweight exercise is gentle on the joints, making it suitable for individuals with joint concerns or injuries.

Versatility: Inverted rows can be tailored to various fitness levels and performed anywhere with a sturdy horizontal bar.

Tips for Progression and Safety

Tips for Progression and Safety


As you become more proficient in inverted rows, you can implement these tips to ensure progression and safety in your training:

Progressive Overload: To continue seeing progress, gradually increase the intensity of your inverted rows. This can be achieved by adding more repetitions, increasing the angle of your body, or using external weights.

Mindful Range of Motion: Focus on achieving a full range of motion during each repetition. Allow your shoulder blades to fully retract at the top of the movement and fully extend your arms at the bottom.

Maintain Proper Alignment: Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels throughout the exercise. Avoid excessive arching of the lower back or sagging of the hips.

Control the Movement: Perform the inverted row in a controlled manner. Avoid using momentum to swing your body, as this can compromise the effectiveness of the exercise and lead to injury.

Use Proper Gripping Technique: Whether using a bar or handles, grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and maintain a firm grip to ensure stability.

Listen to Your Body: If you experience discomfort or pain while performing inverted rows, stop immediately. Consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider if the discomfort persists.

10 Inverted Row Alternatives 

If you're looking for alternatives to the inverted row or simply want to diversify your back training routine, consider these effective options:

1.TRX Rows

TRX Rows


Utilize suspension straps like TRX to perform rows. Adjust the angle of your body to control the resistance, making it suitable for different fitness levels.

2.Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend at the hips. Pull the dumbbells towards your hips while keeping your back straight.

3.Seated Cable Rows 

Seated Cable Rows


Use a cable machine with a seated row attachment. Sit down, grab the handles, and pull towards your torso while keeping your back straight.

4.Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Place one knee and one hand on a weight bench. Hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand and pull it towards your hip while keeping your back straight.

5.Inverted Row with Feet Elevated

Inverted Row with Feet Elevated

Elevate your feet on a bench or platform while performing inverted rows to increase the challenge and emphasize the upper back muscles.

6.Resistance Band Rows

Attach resistance bands to a stable anchor and perform rowing motions by pulling the bands towards your torso.

7.Machine Rows

Machine Rows


Use a rowing machine or cable machine with rowing attachments to perform horizontal pulling motions.

8.Renegade Rows

Renegade Rows

From a push-up position, alternate lifting each hand off the ground to perform a rowing motion. This challenges both upper body strength and core stability.

9.Corner Rows

Use the corner of a wall to perform rows. Stand facing the corner, grip each wall with your hands, and perform rowing motions.

10.Incline Rows

Incline Rows

Lie on an incline bench and perform rowing motions with dumbbells. This angle changes the emphasis on your upper back muscles.

4 Inverted Rows Variations

1.Single-Arm inverted Rows 

Perform the inverted row with one arm at a time to challenge core stability and target each side of the back individually.

2.Wide-Grip Rows

Place your hands wider on the bar to emphasize the outer edges of your back muscles.

3.Towel Rows


Attach towels to the bar and hold onto them instead of the bar itself, creating an unstable grip that engages forearm and grip strength.

4.Weighted Rows

Once you're comfortable with bodyweight rows, you can add external weight across your hips or wear a weighted vest for increased resistance.

Incorporating Inverted Rows into Your Routine

Including inverted rows in your workout routine can provide a well-rounded approach to back training. They can be utilized as a warm-up, main exercise, or accessory movement. For a balanced program, pair inverted rows with pressing exercises like push-ups, bench presses, or overhead presses.

Inverted rows can be done as part of a circuit or superset with other exercises, maximizing your time and efforts in the gym. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions with proper form for optimal results.

Final Thoughts

The inverted row is a versatile exercise that empowers individuals of all fitness levels to work on their upper back strength and stability. By following proper form, incorporating variations, and gradually increasing the intensity, you can harness the benefits of this movement to achieve a well-rounded and strong upper body. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, the inverted row is an essential tool in your fitness arsenal, helping you forge a path to a healthier and more resilient physique.

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