Regardless of whether or not you can do one inverted row or 50, this article's got this great back exercise covered.
We’ve covered performing the inverted row. Now let’s talk about how to put it into your program. As was done with the push up, let’s talk about three situations: 1) you can’t perform the inverted row, 2) you can’t perform 10 and 3) you can get at least 10 and want something to crank it up a bit. Before we even start, don’t even think about throwing this exercise out because it’s too hard. That’s just a cop out. This exercise is prescribed by every strength coach that I’ve ever talked to because it’s such a big bang for your buck exercise. So let’s get you going.
1) You can’t perform this movement:
Ok let’s get after it. First you know how to set up the bar to perform the exercise from my introduction on the inverted row. Now, the easiest way to help you get where you want to be is to raise the bar up a bit, just like elevating the platform in the push up, and working your way down (as the exercise gets harder as you get closer to parallel with the ground). I’m sure you’ve seen people perform this exercise with their knees bent, and yes, I have had athlete’s do this in the past. Now what I will tell you is this: very rarely have I seen someone go from bending their knees to being able to do the exercise as prescribed in the first article, so get that idea out of your head. Try moving the J hooks, or the smith machine bar, up about 2 notches and see how you do. Once you find a height you can perform this at, go ahead and see if you can get 10.When you can get 3 sets of 10, continue to move down until you get to hip height.
2) You’re at the base height, but can’t get 10:
No worries. Go ahead and find your PR (the most you can do with proper technique and body position) and divide that by 2. Work through one of the progressions below and after 3 weeks retest.
3) You can get the 3 sets of 10:
Now we can spice it up a bit. As with everything else, there are two ways to crank it up: volume or intensity. With volume we usually will go with the “race to 100” idea like we talked about with the push up, but we’ll do 50, since these are harder to complete properly with proper body position. For intensity let me first say that, I love the rings or the TRX for this. A little change that allows a little more range of motion (you’ll touch the outside of your ribs not your chest) and instability (since the handles aren’t “fixed”) will make a big difference. Want to add more resistance to increase intensity more? Let’s do it! Chains are great, but make sure you set them up so they lie on your chest, not hanging them off your neck (I say it because I’ve seen it). You can also put a plate on your chest for added resistance or use a weighted vest.
With those in mind, the best way to crank it up is to raise your feet. This will increase core recruitment and make you pull more of your body weight, thus increasing the intensity of the exercise. Now if you’re really good, mix and match. Check the video out and it will help you with a few ideas.
Now, like I said before, this back exercise is one that you will see in almost every strength and conditioning program in the country due to how much you get from it. It’s a great core, upper back and shoulder exercise. Plus it’s great for your shoulder health. Remember with this exercise too, you always want to pull at least as much as you push. Now take a step back and think of that. If you bench, do a standing press, and some dumbbell work in a work out for 3 sets of 10 each, that’s 90 total reps. That means you should do some sort of pulling exercise for at least 90 reps as well. Keep that in mind when you’re programming your strength, and your shoulders will thank you.
To maximize your gains when using this inverted row program 1R would recommend the following supplements: