Inverted Row- Full Body Benefits Including Less Back Pain

When I first begin training with a new client I perform an assessment and record their data to determine a starting level of fitness. This assessment is re-performed at set intervals to track their progress and determine which areas require additional focus. We discuss this throughout our training and modify as we progress. This is not a process of days or a few weeks. Proper development of the body takes time and at times the changes may seem slight but in time you will come to realize your daily steps created quite an impressive new you.


Included in my assessment for men are standardized pushup/pullup tests and for women pushup/flex arm hang. There are others but today I wish to focus on these. I have written about the push-up in an earlier article which I stand strong in my belief: The push up is the single most important exercise you can do for your body. You may say you hate them but once you can do them, you will change your tune. Along the same lines, it is interesting to hear each person's reaction when I say it is time for pull up/arm hang testing. A grimace usually comes across their face and before taking a breath I hear “I can't do pull ups.” or “Oh, I haven't done pull ups in years, I don't think I can.”


Problem one...Self-confidence. If you think you can't, you can't. We have all known this since preschool. It does not take your reading this article for me to tell you the importance of confidence. I am obviously not only talking about pullups so get your head out of your ass and believe in yourself in everything you do.  Stop thinking about what you can't do and focus on what you can do and what steps it takes to accomplish the next challenge in your life. In my gym, we work on your confidence together and I love watching when I see my clients start to transition. The physique follows the mental attitude.


Problem two...Most of my clients really can't do the pull ups/arm hang. I wish I could say it was all in their head but it isn't. People generally do not have the required strength. I used to be surprised but not anymore. Some have gone to the gym for years, some haven't worked out a day in their lives, and others have taken years off but many seem to face the same problem. They can't complete a complete correct pull up. The reasons vary. I find that of those who go to a gym, many are using machines they “like” or doing free weight exercises that are muscle specific and not hitting all muscles as in a full body exercise. As I have stated in a previous article, I incorporate push ups into every workout and feel it is the most important exercise for strength training. They can be wide, triangle, military, all serving a different purpose. There are also exercises to develop the muscles required for pull up and one of the most important for many reasons is the inverted row.

The Inverted Row has a vast number of benefits. The Inverted row is a compound exercise and is one of the best exercises for back strength while applying no pressure or pain to the lower back. The inverted row engages the rear delts, mid traps, lower traps, lats, biceps, triceps, forearms, rhomboids, and the core all key components to spine health. It is a complete strength training movement which also helps improve posture and helps avoid slouching shoulders.


A few key points:

  • Overhand grip (pronated)
  • Your entire body should remain tight and straight, no sagging ass or pulling your neck/head to try to reach the bar.
  • You should be leading with your chest, completely pulling chest up to touch the bar
  • Your elbows should not be outward, they should be at approx a 45 degree angle to the body
  • Squeeze your should blades together at the top


The straight leg inverted row can be quite challenging and therefore there are variations for when you first begin this exercise. You may bend your legs at a 90 degree angle which will reduce the amount of body weight you have to lift. Your body should still remain straight.



For a more intense challenge, try raised leg inverted row.


None of these moves are easy. I am not trying to make them out as if they are. I am here to let you know how good you will feel when you accomplish your first set and it will only be a matter of time before you have a  killer v-back. 









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