We all know that pullups are an awesome, superior exercise for your upper back and even your arms. Trouble is, most people struggle to do any pull-ups at all…
A great alternative that’s also a bodyweight movement is the inverted row.
You can do this exercise under a barbell in a power rack, or even easier, inside Smith machine. You can also use low pullup bars. (Tip: at home or in hotels you can even do it under a sturdy table. PS. I said sturdy – I accept no liability for broken tables!)
Some people say inverted rows are the reverse of pull ups in difficulty – too easy.
Actually I think this is a pretty challenging exercise, but if you’re cranking out 15, 20 reps or more and it’s still easy, then go ahead and progress the exercise (always be thinking about progressive overload!):
Inverted row progressions from easiest to hardest:
1. Inverted rows knees bent feet flat on floor
2. Inverted rows legs straight, heels on floor
3. Inverted rows legs straight, heels up on bench (or stability ball)
4. Inverted rows with barbell plate on your chest (or weighted vest)… but hey, if you’re that strong, you can barbell row as heavy as you want with unlimited progression.
Another tip: still feels too easy? use the peak contraction technique: Hold the top position for 2-3 seconds, squeeze, with strong mind muscle focus on the back, then lower yourself down.
Last but not least, here’s my “secret trick” for the ultimate in intensity:
Superset two different inverted rows.
Start with the harder version with your legs straight, then when you’re about to fail, don’t stop! Switch to the bent knee inverted row and keep going – you’ll find you can get even more reps and blast your back beyond what a normal straight set workout could do.
Go try it, and then let me know what you think.
When you’re ready to advance to the next stage and actually get your first unassisted pullup or increase your total pull-up reps, check out this post next: www.burnthefatblog.com/how-to-get-your-first-pullup/
Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto, author of
Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (amzn.to/2IWxPl3)
Founder and CEO, Burn the Fat Inner Circle