The inverted row is a highly customizable, upper-body exercise for lifters of any experience level. Read on to learn more about the benefits of the inverted row and the muscles worked.
Table of Contents
- 1 Inverted Row Benefits
- 2 Inverted Row Muscles Worked
- 3 Inverted Row FAQs
- 4 Other Exercise Posts
- 4.1 Barbell Row Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Form
- 4.2 How to Squat with Perfect Form
- 4.3 The Top 5 Leg Press Muscles Worked
- 4.4 Bear Crawls: Benefits, Proper Form, and Muscles Worked
- 4.5 The 8 Main Muscle Groups Worked by Squats
- 4.6 The 7 Best Compound Chest Exercises
- 4.7 The 5 Best Benefits of Planks
- 4.8 Hammer Curl Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 4.9 The Top 10 Pull-up Muscles Worked
- 4.10 The Landmine Press: Muscles Worked, Benefits and Form
- 4.11 T-Bar Row Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 4.12 The Top 5 Bench Press Muscles Worked
- 4.13 Incline Bench Press Muscles Worked and Benefits
- 4.14 The 6 Best Gym Machines For Weight Loss
- 4.15 Leg Extension Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 4.16 The 8 Best Deadlift Benefits
- 4.17 The Top 10 Muscles Worked by Planks
- 4.18 Bulgarian Split Squats Muscles Worked & Benefits
Inverted Row Benefits
- Build upper body strength and muscle
- Improve grip strength
- Improve posture
- Reduce back pain
- Increase range of motion
- Improve athletic performance
Build upper body strength and muscle
The inverted row promotes increased muscle mass, improves posture, and enhances upper-body functional fitness. Inverted rows develop a solid, well-rounded upper body, targeting the back, shoulders, core, and arms muscles. Performing inverted rows engages the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, rear delts, biceps, and forearms.
Improve grip strength
Inverted rows are an effective way to build more grip strength over time. Improved grip strength translates to better functional fitness and performance of pull-ups, deadlifts, and dumbbell exercises that test your grip strength and endurance.
Many individuals hunch forward due to postural habits from sedentary jobs and a lack of back musculature. Inverted rows build the lats, back, and postural stabilizers to support an upright, stable posture.
Reduce back pain
Inverted rows strengthen the upper back muscles, including the rhomboids, traps, and rear delts, to improve posture and spinal alignment. Doing so can alleviate strain on the lower back and reduce discomfort. Inverted rows also promote core strength and a balanced distribution of muscle, which can correct muscle imbalances contributing to back pain.
Increase range of motion
The inverted row exercise improves mobility and range of motion in the upper body. Inverted rows engage the muscles of the back, shoulders, and arms, promoting flexibility and joint mobility. The rowing motion stretches the muscles and connective tissues, increasing their flexibility.
Improve athletic performance
The inverted row builds the upper back, shoulders, and arm muscles, improving overall strength and stability. Greater upper body strength enhances power, speed, and control in various athletic movements such as throwing and pushing. The inverted row also engages the core muscles, improving balance and coordination.
Inverted Row Muscles Worked
- Latissimus dorsi (lats)
- Biceps brachii
- Teres minor
- Erector spinae
- Rear deltoids
- Abdominals (rectus abdominis and obliques)
Latissimus dorsi (lats)
The inverted row targets the latissimus dorsi, which spans the back and shoulder blades. Inverted rows target the lats through shoulder extension, with arms moving down and behind the torso. The lats also work during an inverted row through humerus adduction. Check out our list of the best lat pulldown alternatives to build bigger lats.
The trapezius (traps) work during an inverted row to retract and elevate the scapula during the motion. The inverted row primarily targets the trapezius’s upper and middle muscle fibers. If you want to target the often-neglected lower traps, here’s our list of the best ways to strengthen the lower traps.
The rhomboids play a significant role in scapular retraction during an inverted row, bringing the shoulder blades closer together. While the arms pull the body towards the bar, the rhomboids contract to squeeze the shoulder blades back and down, promoting proper posture and stability.
During an inverted row, the primary movement pattern is elbow flexion. As the arms flex to pull the body up toward the bar or rings, the biceps contract to bend the elbows, bringing the hands closer to your shoulders. Inverted rows target and strengthen the biceps brachii muscles, and improve upper body strength and muscle development. For more effective bicep-building exercises, here’s our list of the best exercises for growing bigger biceps.
The inverted row requires forearm strength and muscular endurance. During the inverted row, the forearm flexor muscles work to maintain a secure, shoulder-width grip. Throughout the rowing motion, the forearm flexors contract to generate grip strength. If grip strength limits the proper performance of the inverted row, check out our list of the best cable forearm exercises to improve grip strength.
The infraspinatus muscle is also involved in the inverted row to support shoulder external rotation. During an inverted row, the infraspinatus contracts to stabilize the shoulder joint and externally rotates the humerus to promote shoulder stability and proper alignment.
The teres minor works with the infraspinatus to maintain external shoulder rotation during the inverted row. Together, these muscle groups support proper posture, improving exercise stability and effectiveness at targeting the primary muscle groups.
The spinal erectors work isometrically during the inverted row to support and stabilize the lower back. The erector spinae helps to maintain a neutral spinal position to promote core stability and proper spinal alignment during the inverted row.
During the inverted row, the posterior deltoid muscles are engaged primarily in shoulder extension and horizontal abduction to pull the humerus backward and outward. This engagement targets and strengthens the rear delts, enhancing the development of the posterior shoulder muscles. This muscle is crucial for good posture and spinal alignment. Check out our list of the best ways to strengthen the rear deltoids.
The inverted row also engages the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques. These core muscles contract isometrically to stabilize the torso and maintain proper alignment. This engagement helps to prevent excessive arching or rounding of the lower back, promoting core stability and controlling this body weight exercise. For more effective core exercises, check out our list of the best ways to build stronger abs.
During the exercise, the inverted row engages the hamstrings isometrically to stabilize the lower body. While the primary focus is on the upper body, the hamstrings work to maintain a stable hip position and prevent excessive lumbar extension. Are you looking for ideas for your next leg day? Here’s our list of the best ways to grow stronger hamstrings.
During the inverted row, the gluteal muscles, particularly the gluteus maximus, assist in maintaining a stable hip position and preventing excessive lumbar extension, keeping the body in a straight line. Strong glutes are critical for getting into the correct starting position for inverted row variations. Check out our list of the best cable glute exercises for more ways to strengthen this muscle group.
Inverted Row FAQs
To make inverted rows easier, position your torso to a more vertical angle. Staying more upright will decrease the pull of gravity to resist as you row your body upward.
To increase the difficulty of inverted rows, change the angle of your body so it is more horizontal. Keep your nipples in line with the bar, and use a full range of motion to target the muscle groups most effectively. You can also add a weight vest or perform single-arm inverted rows for more of a challenge.
Yes, inverted rows are an excellent progression for improving pull ups. The inverted row is a challenging body weight exercise that strengthens multiple muscle groups in the upper body. An overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width closely mimics the movement pattern used in pull ups. Once you can efficiently perform around four sets of 10-15 reps of the inverted row, experiment with variations like the feet elevated inverted row to increase the difficulty. Eventually, you should be ready to pull your entire body weight by performing assisted or unassisted pull ups.