13 Tough Variations of the Inverted Row
Use a suspension trainer to row your way to a strong, muscular back. Bonus: These challenging moves also bump up athleticism and mobility.
The inverted row builds strength and packs muscle onto the back. It also works to counterbalance our anterior dominant world, leading to healthier shoulders. Think of it as a reverse push-up. Like the push-up, it requires total body engagement.
You can do it with a racked barbell, but suspension trainers, like TRX straps or gymnastic rings, have a few advantages. You have more freedom of natural movement, and you can change the level of difficulty by just walking toward or away from the anchor point. And to make any of the variations harder, just elevate your feet on a box or bench, so your body is parallel.
Here are some cool variations:
1. SINGLE-ARM INVERTED ROW
This variation trains stabilization throughout the shoulder, back, and midsection as you build strength unilaterally.
2. SINGLE-ARM INVERTED ROW + REACH & ROTATION
Once you’ve got the last one down, add a reach and rotation. This increases the difficulty and opens up more thoracic mobility, something we could all use more of.
3. Single-Arm Inverted Row + Kettlebell Front-Rack Hold
Ready for an even bigger challenge? Hold a kettlebell in the front rack position of the opposite arm to offset the load.
4. TWO-UP, ONE-DOWN INVERTED ROW
Mastering this one is a good way to introduce the single-arm row and train eccentric strength. Do the row with two arms coming up and then release one while lowering yourself down. Reset after every rep.
5. SINGLE-LEG INVERTED ROW
Lift a leg to make it harder to balance. While this is still primarily an upper-body lift, you’ll also feel it in the leg supporting your body weight.
6. INVERTED ROW TO ECCENTRIC REVERSE FLYE
Instead of lowering down with a single arm, place that stress on the upper back by lowering slowly in a reverse flye back to the starting position.
7. INVERTED ROW + LEG CURL
Do the standard row, but hold the isometric at the top. From there, pull your body in, drive your heels down, and curl yourself with your hamstrings. Return from the leg curl and then release the row before repeating. This works best if your feet are elevated on a box or bench.
8. INVERTED ROW + WALKOUT
Row up and hold the isometric contraction. Now slowly walk your feet toward the anchor spot, pause, and walk back. Row back down and repeat.
9. WEIGHTED INVERTED ROW
Add weight with a weighted vest, chains, or even a weight plate to progress any of these variations.
10. BAND-RESISTED INVERTED ROW
Place a band across your hips to add variable load. The weight will be the heaviest at the top position as the band stretches and lighter at the bottom with the band relaxed.
11. INVERTED ROW – ROTATING GRIP
Start with an overhand grip and rotate to underhand as you pull yourself up. This is a seemingly small action, but you’ll get a lot of mobility throughout the upper body.
12. ROPE INVERTED ROW
Challenge and strengthen your grip by doing the inverted row with a rope.
13. INVERTED ROW + OVERHEAD PRESS
Think of this one as a test of overhead mobility. Use a suspension trainer to do an inverted row before turning the handles over and performing a vertical overhead press. Focus on maintaining a vertical position of the arms. Get your biceps next to the earlobes as you press the straps away.
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