Inverted Rows are an all-around beneficial upper-body exercise, building grip and core strength along with back, shoulder and arm muscles.
Below are 10 creative ways to make the Inverted Row more challenging.
- Squat rack or Smith machine with a barbell. Set the barbell waist-high on the rack or hook. Or use a stable, sturdy waist-high horizontal bar (e.g., in a park or playground).
- Two medicine balls
- One Swiss ball
- Water bottle
- Choose five of the following 10 Inverted Row exercises and perform one set per exercise during your normal workout.
- Rest 30-60 seconds between exercises and hydrate before, during and after each workout.
- Do a dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up and finish with cooldown upper- and lower-body static stretches for greater flexibility.
1. Rows with heels atop a Swiss ball
- Take a shoulder-width overhand or underhand grip on the bar with your legs extended, back straight, hips off the floor and heels atop a Swiss ball.
- Perform 10 reps (one second up, pause and squeeze shoulder blades together for one second, then lower in two seconds).
- Balance comes into play during each rep, engaging core muscles in the abdomen, lower and middle back and grip strength as you struggle to hold tightly to the bar.
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2. Rows with heels atop two med balls
- Assume same position as in Exercise 1, but place your heel on two separate med balls, set a few inches apart.
- Perform 10 reps.
3. Slow Rows with one foot off floor
- With your legs straight, lift one foot off the floor and do five reps—10 seconds pulling up, five seconds lowering.
- Without pausing, switch feet and perform five slow reps.
- This is another intense core and grip-strengthening exercise—particularly when the rep tempo is slowed.
4. Isometric Row
- Perform one long rep for as long as possible—heels on the floor/legs extended.
- Pull up and hold (prone or supine grip).
- Squeeze your biceps in the contracted position and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- This optimally tests forearm and biceps strength and muscle endurance as well as wrist, hand and core strength/endurance.
5. Moving heels during Rows
- This exercise also tests lower-body endurance.
- Alternately move your heels wide apart and then together (inward and outward) for 30-45 seconds while performing 10 up-and-down reps.
6. Single-Arm Rows
- This exercise effectively tests balance and core and arm strength.
- Attempt one, two or three reps (or more, depending on arm strength) with your right arm (left arm off the bar hanging to the side or extended at shoulder level).
- Without pausing, switch arms and repeat.
7. Endurance Rows
- To enhance upper-body muscle endurance, perform as many reps as possible in 60 seconds.
8. Mixed-Grip Rows
- Do five reps with an alternate grip, one hand prone and the other supine.
- Switch hand positions for five more reps.
9. Moving hands on bar
- From the bottom position of the Row (legs and back straight, balanced on heels, hips off the floor and using a shoulder-width prone or supine hand grip on the bar), keep your arms extended as long as possible while moving your hands together and apart for 30-60 seconds.
- Another endurance tester for hand, forearm and wrist strength.
10. Moving heels backward and forward during Isometric Row
- This exercise tests upper- and lower-body muscle endurance and especially strengthens the lower abdomen.
- Assume a contracted Isometric Row position (pulling up and holding).
- Alternately walk your heels toward and away from you for 60 seconds.
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