How To Do The Inverted Row


Ever wondered how exactly gymnasts build such impressive physiques? It’s in no small part thanks to the inclusion of ring training in their exercise programmes. You too can reap the same rewards by incorporating these useful tools into your muscle-building regime with the inverted row.

You can, of course, perform the inverted row with a low bar, but the unfixed, unstable nature of gymnastics rings forces the stabilising fibres around your larger muscles to activate – keeping you balanced.

RECOMMENDED: How To Start Training With Gymnastic Rings

When you master the inverted row, not only will you feel your lats grow over time into a wondrous pair of wings, but the smaller muscle groups that help stabilise you – such as the rhomboids, mid-traps and infraspinatus – are all stimulated too. The result is an impressive and functionally strong back.

How To Do An Inverted Row

First, find a reliable set of rings – most gyms nowadays will stock a pair. Failing that, you can always purchase some of your own for a small fee. Rings are useful in that they can be used virtually anywhere. If, for some reason, there aren’t any bars available at your gym then you can always attach rings to parallel bars at a park.

Once you have located your bar, attach the rings and lie underneath it. The rings need to be just above your reach when lying on the ground. Grasp the rings with the area between your thumb and index finger, with your palms facing each other. Brace your abs and form a straight plank position with just your heels touching the ground. Pull your chest up to the bar, keeping your body straight, then lower yourself down and repeat.

Shoot for four sets of ten, but don’t be surprised to fall short the first few times.

Inverted Row Form Tips

Posture is key, so it’s important to avoid these three common mistakes:

  1. The Chin Jab: You’re aiming to get your chest to the bar, not thrust your chin towards it and leave your body behind.
  2. The Hip Sag: Dropping from the waist suggests your core isn’t up to the full inverted row, so start with your legs bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  3. The Hip Thrust: The aim is to keep your body straight and move your chest to the bar, not fire your hips out like Bruno Mars.

Inverted Row Variations

There are three main variations of the inverted row.

Feet flat: this is a regression from the row described above where the legs rest on the heels fully extended. Flat feet and a bend in the knees will halve the resistance involved in the exercise, meaning the row becomes easier.

Legs raised: once you progress beyond the standard inverted row, you can elevate your legs onto a box or flat bench, which adds extra range of motion. This works wonders for tapping into hard-to-work muscle fibres.

Bosu ball: propping your heels up on a Bosu ball recruits more stabilising muscle fibres thanks to the unstable surface.

Once you are comfortable performing the above then progress to bodyweight ring chin-ups.