Why the Push-Up to Renegade Row Can Get You Fit Fast

This versatile exercise can be prescribed as a conditioning exercise, strength/muscle building drill, or as an anterior/rotational core exercise.

When it comes to exercises that provide the biggest bang for your buck, it's hard to find a better option than the Push-Up to Renegade Row.

The Push-Up pattern combines elements of pressing strength, upper-body hypertrophy development, scapular protraction/depression emphasis leading to improved shoulder mechanics and functioning (aka scapulohumeral rhythm), and anterior core strength and stability improvements, among other things. The Row helps with postural issues, increases back, biceps and forearm hypertrophy, and also builds the anti-rotational core strength many people lack. Now who wouldn't want all of that in one exercise?

It's no secret that alternating push and pull patterns works, and if you are limited on time in the gym for whatever reason, then you can effectively kill two birds with one stone and incorporate the "The Push-Up to Renegade Row" combination movement:

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When it comes to exercises that provide the biggest bang for your buck, it's hard to find a better option than the Push-Up to Renegade Row.

The Push-Up pattern combines elements of pressing strength, upper-body hypertrophy development, scapular protraction/depression emphasis leading to improved shoulder mechanics and functioning (aka scapulohumeral rhythm), and anterior core strength and stability improvements, among other things. The Row helps with postural issues, increases back, biceps and forearm hypertrophy, and also builds the anti-rotational core strength many people lack. Now who wouldn't want all of that in one exercise?

It's no secret that alternating push and pull patterns works, and if you are limited on time in the gym for whatever reason, then you can effectively kill two birds with one stone and incorporate the "The Push-Up to Renegade Row" combination movement:

Some important cues to keep in mind.

  • Make sure the neck stays in a packed position with the chin tucked and in line with the rest of the spine the entire time.
  • Achieve proper depth. Nose to the floor unless the scapula anterior tilts and the shoulder hyperextends. In this case, achieve a depth where the shoulder can remain neutral until proper control is satisfied and you or your client can reach the floor with no problems.
  • Hips should be fully extended with the glutes tight.
  • Knees straight
  • Hips and torso square to the ground as you row
  • The wider you take your feet, the easier the exercise will be. The narrower, the more difficult.

Although a set of this exercise may be significantly longer than it is for some other moves, you're essentially doing two exercises at once. You're also taking advantage of a physiology phenomenon in a way other exercises do not. Reciprocal Innervation Theory states that when neural impulses are sent to one muscle or group of muscles (e.g., pectorals) generating a complete muscular contraction, antagonistic or opposing muscles (e.g., lats) are then shut down, relaxed and re-lengthened momentarily in anticipation for their next movement opportunity.

This is a tough move, so if you're not quite ready to nail it with proper form, try these progressions.

Push-Up Progressions

  • Knee Push-Ups
  • Knee Push-Ups with Weighted Vest
  • Regular Push-Ups
  • Regular Push-Ups with Weighted Vest

Row Progressions

  • Ground-Based 3-Point DB Row
  • 3-Point DB Row With Feet on Stability Ball (Start Very Light!)

Anterior Core Strength Progressions

  • Planks
  • Dead Bugs
  • Rope Planks
  • Ab Rollouts

One reason the Push-Up to Renegade Row is so effective is because it challenges an individual's work capacity regardless of their level of conditioning and creates a "huge" metabolic disturbance and eventual fatigue. There are several training variables that you can manipulate and change up to provide an appropriate challenge to whomever you are training.

For example, if you get a stud athlete who comes in with impeccable strength and physique, you can still challenge their system with the exercise by increasing the intensity in moderate to high rep ranges. I don't care who you are, there is certainly a way to make this drill work to your benefit!

The beauty of the exercise is that it's very versatile and you can prescribe it as a conditioning exercise, strength/muscle building drill, or as an anterior/rotational core exercise depending on the need and abilities of you or your client. Here are some basic video progressions that you can select to match with any type of training client with a list of training cues.

Photo Credit: RossHelen/iStock

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Topics: BACK | PUSH-UP | UPPER BODY | BUILD MUSCLE | SHOULDERS | ROW