We’ve been getting some good weather up here in New York. On a totally unrelated note, it’s time for Move of the Week!
THE MOVE: Reverse-grip Inverted Row
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: horizontal pull; upper and mid back, lats.
WHY DO IT: For today’s Move, I’ve decided to change the pace a little and feature a bodyweight exercise among the sea of iron and free weights recently. Inverted rows fit in nicely here, because they’re key exercises in our strength programming and require minimal equipment.
Most people are able to do a chest-supported row or even a barbell row with a little coaching, but I often find that there’s a higher learning curve to overcome with the inverted row. Controlling and lifting your own bodyweight is actually more challenging than most people think, especially through a full range of motion.
In the technique video above, you can see that my body is almost parallel to the floor. Some of you might not be able to start this way–the deeper the angle, the harder the row. There’s also an element of core stability here, as you want to keep your body as straight as a plank throughout the entire movement. Finally, the reverse-grip adds in a little more bicep involvement than a regular overhand grip, timely considering I just gave you permission to do bicep curls here. I also like the reverse-grip because it prevents you from shrugging your shoulders up to your ears and flaring your elbows out, neither of which you want to do in this exercise.
In short, don’t neglect the versatility of the inverted row relative to its free-weight counterparts. Sometimes, simplicity and bodyweight are all you need.
HOW TO DO IT: The set-up for this exercise is very important, as the height of the bar basically dictates the angle at which you’ll be rowing. The higher the bar, the more upright you’ll be and the easier the row, and vice-versa. Those that are seasoned lifters can progress this by elevating their feet on a box, so that their bodies are completely horizontal.
Set-up under the barbell with your palms facing you and your hands shoulder-width apart. Straighten out your body and let gravity pull you down into the bottom position. Brace your core, and pull yourself up to the bar by pinching your shoulder blades behind your back. Make sure to touch the bar with your mid-torso to ensure that you’re pulling up through a full range of motion. Don’t let the hips sag, and focus on driving the movement through the powerful muscles of the upper and mid back.
There will be a little trial and error involved in order to determine the ideal bar height and body angle that will sufficiently challenge you throughout the set. Play around with the angles a bit, and expect to get more and more horizontal the stronger you get. You also want to make sure that your heels are anchored to the floor so that you won’t be sliding around, so grippy shoes will help here.
For the reverse-grip inverted row, I’d recommend 3-4 sets of 10 reps in the middle of your workout. As with pull-ups, you’ll get fatigued fast, and range-of-motion might suffer. Well, fight through it because that’s where the magic happens. Worse comes to worst, you can easily take a step back and row from a slightly higher angle to finish up your set and reps. Try this out and be sure to let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.