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Fat Man Rows

I saw a cool exercise - fat man rows aka inverted rows aka supine rows. Are they really for fat people, can almost every non-fat do them? I wanted to try these out and I did… result was disappointing. I couldn’t do any reps, couldn’t touch the bar with my chest. Although I can do 8 chin-ups without cheating (using legs). Does this exercise have just a wrong name or am I just so imbalanced? It seems weird to me, because the movements work the same muscle - latissimus dorsi - well horisontally the trapezius assists more, but basically when I can do easily some chin-ups I should be able to do at least 1 rep of inverted rowing.

I can do the same amount of supine rows that I can do for chinups. That peak contraction at the top, where your chest touches the bar is the hardest part. Fat man rows I think are kind of a dumb name because you can increase the difficulty to having your feet raised and onto a swiss ball as well, when I have had my clients do them they do still struggle.

“Fat man Rows” aka. inverted Rows are usually used as a progression exercise for regular chins/pull-ups when you cannot perform a single rep (e.g. if your body weight is too high, hence the name) and there is no option of assisted chins (machine) and are much easier than a full ROM chin.

Depending on the height of your feet, you should be actually moving somewhere between 50 and 70% of you bodyweight.

If you can perform 8 consecutive chins, you should be able to do at least twice the amount of inverted rows.

Your grip should be wider than shoulder width (or you create a serious disadvantage in leverage and make the exercise much harder).

Often, your ROM is also limited by flexibility, e.g. in your shoulders and pecs (can you do a full ROM overhead squat ?)

I don’t know if it is weakness or flexibility. I tried to row horisontally to chest (I think it is called rear delt row) and the last 1-2 inches was hard even with empty bar. When doing inverted rows it is 2 times the same weight and I can’t do it, although when I look the videos it seems so easy and they do them slowly, too.

I don’t do overhead squats, but I have tried them with empty bar and I could do without flexibility problems. But how is this connected to supine rows?

So is this weakness (though I can do chin-ups), flexibility issue or something else?

“are usually used as a progression exercise for regular chins/pull-ups when you cannot perform a single rep”

Should I use something to progress to inverted rows? Bump

Are you doing them with your heels on the floor? I ask because, contrary to a previous post, I found placing my feet on a bench to be easier when I used to do inverted rows. Basically, I just set the bar at a height where I will be exactly horizontal at the top, so about a half-foot or so higher than the bench. I found this gave me more ROM than with my feet on the floor.

I have tried all ways… on the floor with legs straight, knees bent, legs on a bench… nothing helps.

I can pull to a point that is a bit over parallel to the arms. Arms are to the sides, about 1 inch lower than the torso. But from there it is almost 6 inches to touch the bar (doing them with straight legs on a bench).

It is partial ROM, is there any point to do them in this wrong way? Seems it is almost the same ROM as in Barbell Rows, where the stomach stops the movement in half way. And is it flexibility or weakness then?

My back (chin-ups) aren’t improving at all… I thought maybe if I could do this exercise easily my back would start to get stronger.

The only other thing I can think to advise is to make sure you are retracting your shoulder blades at the top of the inverted row, if you are not already. Otherwise, the limited ROM may be alright; everyone has different degrees of flexibility. Now that I think of it, maybe I couldn’t quite touch the bar when I used to do inverted rows. I’ll have to try again just to check.

Also, if you are interested in increasing your pullup/chinup total, I found something that worked for me recently. Personally, any time I did multiple sets of chinups, my strength always went backwards, so I switched to one set of consecutive reps, then did additional reps in rest-pause fashion every ten or fifteen seconds.

If I knew I couldn’t get another one in the next fifteen seconds, I terminated the set. So far, I’ve increased my consecutive rep total every week. When I hit twelve, I’ll either add weight and stick with the one set or try adding sets again.

Make sure to use a wide grip, at the “lock-out” (end of the movement when your chest almost touches the bar), your forearms should be orthogonal (90? angle relative to the bar). If your grip is narrow, the whole exercise becomes very difficult, especially at the top.

Also, try not to pull “high” (-> towards your shoulders), but quite low, towards the sternum/the point where your pectoralis ends. Pulling high is much harder.

Another limiting factor could be flexibility. Most people bench alot but neglect stretching, which lead to very tight chest (pectoralis) and front delts, which in turn might have a negative impact on your ROM.

Also, as a previous poster noted, during the movement it is almost necessary to pull your shoulders back & retract your shoulder blades (try not the think about moving your chest towards the bar, but more to move your elbows as much behind your body as possible and moving your should blades towards each other)