The inverted row is a super exercise for developing the strength of your upper back.
It aims specifically on strengthening the latissimus dorsi (“lat”) muscles, but also works many other muscles in the back, shoulders, core and arms, including grip strength.
Inverted rows replicate functional movements that require a pulling or lifting motion including opening a door, lifting a slab or pulling a person to safety.
Inverted row exercise form
- Wrap a set of suspended movement (TRX) straps (or a rope, belt, towel or band) securely around a fixed object (such as the tree in the video below).
- Stand in a straight vertical position, whilst holding each end.
- Whilst maintaining tension in the straps and keeping your arms straight, lower the back of your head to the floor by moving your feet (shoulder width apart) closer to the fixed object.
- Make sure you keep your body and arms straight until you are at a 60-degree angle (or lower) to the floor. This is the starting position.
- The closer your feet are to the fixed object, the more acute your angle is to the floor and the harder the exercise is.
- Smoothly, retract your shoulders back and down and bend at your elbows, pulling your torso towards the fixed object whilst keeping your body straight.
- Keep your palms facing each other and elbows close to your body throughout the movement.
- On reaching the top (elbows slightly behind you and fists by your sides facing inwards), pause for a second and smoothly lower your body back to the starting position.
Easier inverted row variations
- The more upright you stand the easier the exercise is.
Harder inverted row variations
- Move feet closer to anchor point (tree or wall).
- Super slow, 5 second up, 5 second down (or slower).
- Lie under a fixed bar and row upwards towards it. For example, you can row upwards on a broom stale secured at two ends (children’s playgrounds or parks often provide good free facilities for this).