September 22, 2021 8 min read
The inverted row is an excellent exercise for you to do at your local gym. It is quite easy to do but it moves you through a similar range of motions to really work your lats, traps, and other muscles. However, inverted rows are not always available, so these alternatives to the inverted row might soon become some of your go-to exercises.
Inverted rows and all of their alternatives can be just as good for you as the difficult exercise known as pull-ups. Pull-ups are extremely challenging and so they will always build strength quicker than most other exercises. The key difference is that, with pull-ups, you are supporting the full weight of your body with your arms and back, but inverted rows allow you to keep your feet on the floor.
Inverted rows can be used as a good way for you to build big biceps and triceps. Your bicep muscles work as more of a stabilizing force when you are doing inverted rows, but you can also target them more specifically by changing your grip.
If you use an underhand grip with your palms facing up and then perform the row, you will more actively engage your biceps and your triceps. All of these exercises can be performed with high loads or training volumes to help you produce the kind of overall muscle and strength gains you might be looking for.
You will only need one piece of equipment for this first alternative exercise, which can be considered a bodyweight row. The main benefit of this specific exercise is that it really targets all of the major muscle groups that you would be using during inverted rows, so the effect is similar to what you would get from doing inverted rows.
Start with your feet in line with your hips before bending at the waist to take hold of the bar, with your knees also slightly bent. With an overhand grip, pick up the bar and bring it to just below your knees. Your arms should be extended. Pull the bar into your midsection by pushing your elbows backward.
Lower the bar back down to just below your knees and repeat. When you are doing the barbell row, keep your elbows tight toward your body to ensure proper form, so don’t let them flare out to the side. When doing this exercise, most lifters do a count of reps of between 10 and 12 and use the barbell, kettlebells, or other free weights as your equipment.
This exercise can also be considered a bodyweight row. By isolating one side of your back at a time, you will be working all of these muscles even harder than when you do push ups and other similar exercises. The movement of this exercise forces you to use your core and other areas as stabilizer muscles.
First, lay a dumbbell on the floor next to a bench. Put your left leg onto the bench. Your right leg should be extended next to the bench and bend over so that your torso is parallel to the ground. Use your left hand to hold the upper end of the bench.
With your right hand, extend your arm down and grab hold of the dumbbell with your palm facing inward. Lift the weight off of the ground so that your right arm is extended while you are holding the dumbbell and your back is straight. Bend at the arm and pull the weight into your midsection. Stay in that position for a few seconds.
Lower the weight back down under control until your arm is extended again, then repeat the entire movement. Keep your elbows as close as possible to your body when you are lifting the weight up. Make sure that your back is straight and not arched throughout the entire movement. You should do a count of reps of between 10 and 12 and use the bench and dumbbell as your equipment.
One of the best exercises for overall strength is the pull-up. You only need to find a pull-up bar to do this exercise, which you can easily buy for your home gym or find at a local park. Stabilizing your own body weight will also recruit the muscles in your core and upper back. Your muscles will respond to this bodyweight exercise, especially if you are a heavy person.
Pull-ups get your entire upper body working and help you to build some serious strength. Grab the bar with both hands at about shoulder-width, or slightly wider, with your palms facing away from you. Hang from the bar and fully extend your arms. If your feet are touching the floor, bend your knees and pull your feet toward your bottom.
Pull yourself up until your chin is just above the bar. Lower yourself back down in a controlled way and repeat the exercise. If you are not yet able to do any pull-ups, you might try an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands to build up your strength. Or, begin by hanging from a bar without pulling yourself up. You should do a count of reps of between 8 and 10 and use the pull up bar as your equipment.
This is another good back exercise that helps improve your overall power and really focuses on all of the main muscle groups that are worked in the inverted row. First, stand in front of a barbell with a wide stance and grab hold of it with both of your hands as close together as possible. Your positioning should be similar to a deadlift, with your hips bent and your rear end facing backward.
Push your hips forward to lean back up, pulling the bar with you up under your chin. Lower the bar back down to your hips. under control, and then bend your hips to return it to the floor. Your elbows should be pointing up above your shoulders at the top of the movement. You should do a count of reps of between 10 and 12 and use the barbell or other free weights as your equipment for these types of pulling exercises.
This move works your shoulders and back muscles and forces you to engage your core to keep things under control. Pull a barbell onto the front of your shoulders so that your hands are underneath the bar and your palms are facing up. With a slight bend in your knees, push the bar up until your arms are extended, though avoid locking your elbows.
Briefly hold the position at the top of the movement, then lower the bar back to your shoulders and repeat. Poke your head forward through the hole your arms will create at the top of the movement, then move it back slightly as you bring the bar back down. You should do a count of reps of between 10 and 12 and use the barbell or other free weights as your equipment.
Your back and shoulders will get a good workout here with this bodyweight rowing movement, so they will be working hard and building strength. Hold a barbell in front of you with your arms straight. Keep holding it with an overhand grip and your hands as close together as possible. Engage your core muscles and pull the bar up to your chin, ensuring your elbows rise above your shoulders.
Lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat the entire process. Keep your upper body in the same position without bending your hips or bending forward when you are returning the bar down to your hips. You should do a count of reps of between 13 and 15 and use the barbell or other free weights as your equipment for these types of row exercises.
Cable rows target all of your back muscles and build major strength in your lats by adding a lot more resistance than you usually get from bodyweight training. Sit on the bench/seat with a slight bend in your knees, roughly 45-degrees. Hold the handle with both hands and your arms out straight in front of you and your back straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the handle towards you.
Hold this position, and then extend your arms in a controlled way to return to the starting position. Avoid leaning back too much and be sure not to extend your legs fully. Your back and arms should be doing all of the work here. You should do a count of reps of between 13 and 15 and use the cable row machine as your equipment.
Your lats are some of the biggest muscles in your back and this machine targets them directly. Lat pulldowns can be an almost perfect way to develop back strength for beginners who can't do pull-ups yet.
A pulldown is the same movement as a pull-up, except you are not attempting to lift your entire body weight.
The added weight can lead to some excellent gains. Sit on the seat and adjust the pad comfortably on top of your lower thighs or knees to reduce movement. Look forward and reach up to hold the bar with a wide grip. Retract your shoulder blades and bend your elbows to pull the bar down toward you until it reaches your upper chest.
Allow the bar to raise back up, under control, until your arms are extended again and repeat. Avoid leaning back as you bring the bar down. You should do a count of reps of between 13 and 15 and use the lat pulldown machine as your equipment. You should really be engaging all of your latissimus dorsi muscles here.
This is a very similar movement to the inverted row with the added challenge of needing to focus on stability and coordination. Grip the TRX handles in each hand and begin to step away from the anchor point. Once there is tension in the TRX straps and your arms are extended, move your feet forward and lean back. Your arms should be extended while holding the handles and your body in a straight line.
Bend your elbows and pull your torso up, while keeping your palms facing inward and your feet on the ground. Lower back down and repeat the movement. Keep your head in a neutral position and your back straight and not arched during the entire movement. Aim for a count of reps of between 13 and 15 when you are using the TRX as your equipment.
This exercise is quite easy for most beginners to do but it can bring about quite noticeable strength gains. Stand with a dumbbell in either hand and hinge forward, bending your knees slightly. The dumbbells should hang in front of you with your palms facing each other, your arms extended but not locked out.
Raise the dumbbells out to the side, keeping a slight bend in your arm and pinning your shoulder blades together. Hold for a moment, then bring the dumbbells back in front of you in a controlled way, and then repeat that movement.
The whole idea is to get the right starting position. Your body should be at about a 45-degree angle with your spine neutral and your chest open. Try to do a count of reps of between 10 and 12 and use dumbbells or other free weights as your equipment.
Whether you are trying to find a compound exercise or practice some simple movements that resemble the inverted row, you might get used to using some of these alternative exercises in your bodybuilding journey to better health and mobility. Although some of the exercises will take you through a different range of motions, they all still mostly target your back and upper body.
All of these exercises can induce hypertrophy and directly build all of your major muscles. If you are going to do these exercises regularly, be sure to warm up properly every time to reduce the risk of injury. Always include proper warm-ups, rest, and a good nutrition program. Your results will depend a lot on these few variables, and also on how well you can recover from your exercises.
To allow your body enough time to recover and start building muscle, always rest for up to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups. A good way to add more weight to your frame and add a lot of muscle mass is to try our Mass Stack.
If you are more interested in losing some of the body fat you already have, you might prefer the Ultimate Shred Stack.