The Inverted Row

Form Friday: The Inverted Row

inv row.jpg

by Devin Sarno, NSCA-CPT

Exercise: Inverted Row
Muscle Groups: Back, Biceps, Core
Importance: This exercise is an excellent body-weight exercise that is easily adaptable to all fitness levels. It is great for building back and core strength without putting any stress or load on the spine. It is also an exercise that could and should be utilized by those who are trying to work up to doing pull-ups.

Proper Form:

  1. If you are using a Barbell, smith machine, rings, or a TRX, set it up so that where you will grip is at waist height when standing (you may adjust it higher or lower depending on fitness level).
  2. Grip slightly wider than shoulder width and walk your feet to a point that allows you to do at least 5 repetitions from that position (if you are strong enough, you should be hanging directly beneath the bar or handles)
  3. Your heels should be on the floor, and your starting position should be with your arms fully extended and your body in a straight line position from your heels to your head
  4. Initiate the movement by flexing at the elbow and begin to pull your chest toward the bar or handles
  5. Retract your shoulder blades as you are pulling yourself toward the bar/handles
  6. Squeeze and pause at the top of the movement (If using a bar, your chest should make contact with the bar)
  7. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps


  • Keep your core engaged to help maintain a straight-line body position
  • Keep your elbows below your shoulders in the horizontal plane
  • Lower yourself to full extension of the arms for each rep
  • Progressions/Regressions: Start with the bar/handles higher or lower, change your foot positioning

Sample Workout: 5 rounds:

  • 10 Inverted Rows
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 10 Sit-ups
  • 10 Burpees
  • 45 Sec Plank