Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inverted row – Another silly body weight exercise!!!

Anywhere in the globe you will find people in the gym bench pressing and pounding in pounds. Imagine yourself bench pressing in this particular movement you lift the barbell towards you. The inverted row is a movement that is exactly opposite of the bench press. Yes, the inverted row is a pulling movement where you get your chest towards the bar and then you lower yourself down.

Barbell rows Vs. The inverted rows
Barbell Rows – If you want size on your back, barbell rows should be implemented in your exercise regime.
This exercise has the largest muscle activation from the lower to the upper back [1]. However, the barbell row has some issues that can be contraindicated to certain section of the population.  If the form is compromised there is a likelihood of the person injuring himself. Secondly, it has been suggested that in barbell rowing spinal (lumbar) loading increases and that resulted in increased spine stiffness [1].

In comparison inverted row elicited the highest activation of the latissimus dorsi muscle, upper back and the hip extensor muscles.  Normally, the upper back gets neglected in a typical workout routine.  Please note the middle fibres and the lower fibres of the trapezius,  the rhomboids are part of the upper back.  Furthermore, the activation of the lower fibres of the trapezius improves shoulder stability
[2]. Research has posited that the inverted row elicited the lowest activation of the lumbar that directly minimised lumbar loading [2].

The benefits of the inverted row –
  • Shoulder health
  • Reduced spinal loading (no lower back strain)
  • Functionality and core training

Execution of the Inverted row:

  1. Feet placement determines the level of difficulty
For beginners placing their feet on the ground, you can increase the level of difficulty by placing the feet on a bench or on a stability ball.

  1. Maintain neutral spine
Your spine should be in line or maintain the normal curvature of your back.  Keep you glutes (butt) elevated.

  1. Chest up
In this position your shoulder maintains its natural position and this enables the activation of the trapezius.

  1. Position of the head
Maintain the natural distance between your chin and your collar (clavicle) bone. This will again enable you to maintain your neutral position.

Please note
  • You are always in control
  • Pull from the elbows and your upper back
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the movement





  1. Fenwick, CMJ, Brown, SHM, and McGill, SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: Trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res 23(5): 1408-1417, 2009
  2. Michael J. DePalma, MD; Ernest W. Johnson, MD. Detecting and Treating Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. The Physician and Sport Medicine 2003; 31(7 ): 1-10 
    Frank Mapranny, 
    HOD Fitness, 
    Your Fitness Club

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