Build a Strong Back With the Inverted Row

STACK Expert Josh Williams lists the benefits of the Inverted Row as a back exercise and explains how to make it easier or more challenging.

For some reason back exercises, like the Bent-Over Row, seem to take a back seat to pushing movements. I don't know if it's because back exercises don't look as badass as pushing 300 pounds of iron and metal off your chest, or what.

When it comes to back exercises, Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups get good street cred, but not everyone can easily perform them. People who can do Pull-Ups with added weight from plates or chains are a rare sight.

If you're looking for a great back exercise to add to your workout, look no further. The Inverted Row is the exercise you need to be doing on your back days.

Why You Should Be Doing Inverted Row

Inverted Row

  • It's a bodyweight exercise that almost anyone can do with proper instruction.
  • It can easily be made more difficult to challenge your strength.
  • It puts less strain on the lower back than other rowing variations, such as the Bent-Over Row.
  • It has more full-body benefits than other rows, like the Chest Supported Row (where your chest and back are supported and it's easy to rely on the bench to keep you in neutral alignment).
  • It requires you to engage your abdominal muscles.

How to Perform the Inverted Row

Inverted TRX Row

Check out the video player above for a demonstration.

Coaching Points

  • Keep your hips up and your body in a straight line. If your body curls up, you need to regress the movement.
  • As you pull up, keep your shoulders down. You should not feel anything in your neck; if you do, you are shrugging and need to relax your shoulders.
  • Control yourself slowly back down to the starting position.
  • Do between 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps. For strength, stay closer to 6 reps. For size, opt for reps higher in the range.

How to Make Inverted Rows More Difficult

Kevin Love TRX Inverted Row

Change Hand Positions

The easiest hand position is neutral (palms facing one another). Next is supinated (palms facing you), and the hardest is pronated (palms facing away from you).

Elevate Your Feet

By elevating your feet, you increase the range of motion of the Inverted Row, making the exercise more challenging.

Add Weight

You can immediately make the exercise more challenging by increasing external weight, like adding plates, chains, or a weighted vest.

All of The Above

If you find all these variations too easy and you want the ultimate challenge, add all three: pronate your hands, elevate your feet, and throw a 45-pound plate on your chest.

How to Made Inverted Rows Easier

Inverted Row

If you find the Inverted Row too challenging, regress the movement in one of two ways:

  1. Bring your feet closer to your body, forming a table with your body with your torso as the tabletop.

  2. Decrease your pulling angle. Ideally your body should be parallel with the ground, but if that is too challenging, place yourself closer to a 45-degree angle to the ground.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock