The Inverted Row is an effective bodyweight or calisthenic exercise that targets your back and biceps. Unlike other rows, this exercise doesn’t promote rounding of your back or excessive hip extension. Because of this, you focus more on the muscles you intend to train and not waste a single drop of effort in the gym!

When performing an inverted row, you plant your feet firmly on the ground, so you’re not lifting your entire weight with only your arms. It’s an ideal exercise for beginners and a more manageable alternative if you want to avoid using a Pull-Up Bar for Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups.

Although inverted rows are definitely beneficial in building girth in your back, doing it often will make it lose its potency. Your body can quickly adapt to any workout in your program. Because of this, you need to keep it fresh and reboot every six to eight weeks. So, to ensure that your progress will not stall, include inverted row alternatives in your fitness program!

Inverted Row Alternatives (Our 10 Recommendations)

Since inverted rows are a compound back exercise, you need to make sure that your alternatives are also targeting the same muscles. In this movement, your focusing on your latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, posterior deltoids, biceps, posterior chain, and core. If the substitute cannot target all, at least the majority of these muscles should be present. 

So, to help you filter through the good and bad exercises, here are ten of the best inverted row alternatives that you can do!

1. Seated Cable Row

Seated cable rows can activate your back muscles and build incredible strength in your lats by including more resistance than what you get from just doing bodyweight training alone. To make sure that you get the full extent of this workout, avoid leaning your back too much. Also, don’t let your legs fully extend. Remember, it’s your back and arms that you want to engage.

How to do it

  • Sit on the bench of a cable row machine with knees slightly bent. Keep it roughly at 45-degrees. 
  • Grab the handles with both your hands, keeping your arms stretched in front of you. Also, make sure that your back is straight. 
  • Press your shoulder blades together and pull the handle moving towards your sternum.
  • Pause and hold this position momentarily. Then, extend your arms slowly to go back to the starting position.
  • Do twelve to fifteen reps.

2. Barbell Bent Over Rows

The Barbell Row is an excellent alternative because it targets the main muscle groups in the upper part of your posterior chain, similar to inverted rows. Aside from that, if you happen to have a Barbell at home, then you can easily do it without going to the gym! 

Just ensure that you maintain proper form when you’re rowing the bar by keeping your elbows tight towards your body. Don’t let them spread out to the sides.

How to do it

  • Place your feet in line with your hips before hinging at the waist to get into the starting position. Grab the bar as you keep a slight bend on your knees.
  • Using an overhand grip, drive your feet into the floor to lift up the bar, bringing it to just below your knees. Make sure that your arms are extended.
  • Pull the bar until it reaches your midsection by moving your elbow backwards. Then, lower the bar down to just below your knees and repeat. 
  • Perform ten to twelve reps.

3. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Although all types of barbell rows will give you results, they all have unsupported forward flexion, putting a lot of stress on your lower back. If you lack lower body strength, your sets will come to a premature end, making your workout less fruit-bearing.

With single-arm dumbbell rows, you have one free hand that can support your entire upper body. Because of this, you can focus all your efforts on training the target muscles like the core and stabilizer muscles as much as you want. Aside from that, single-arm rows are lower back-friendly, making it the best alternative if you’re experiencing lower back pains.

How to do it

  • Place a dumbbell on the floor next to the bench. Position your left leg onto the bench with your shin and knee lying with it. Keep your right leg extended next to the bench and bend over, so your torso is in line with the ground. Use your left hand to support yourself by placing it on the upper end of the bench.
  • Using your right hand, stretch your arm down and hold the dumbbell with your palm facing inwards. Raise the weight off the ground to keep your back straight, and your right arm extended as you hold the dumbbell.
  • Bend at your arm and pull the weight up towards your midsection. Pause for one to two seconds. 
  • Bring the weight back down with control until your arm is stretched again.
  • Perform the necessary repetition, then switch to the other arm.
  • Do ten to twelve reps on each arm.

4. Upright Row

This exercise is a great alternative to an inverted row because it engages your back and upper body. Since upright rows don’t get help from the legs, you’re working your shoulders extra hard while building strength. 

To get the most out of this exercise, ensure that you’re keeping your upper body in the same position throughout. Don’t hinge at your hips or bend forward wherever you let the bar drop back to your hips. If you do it in proper form, you can expect incredible results.

How to do it

  • Grab the Barbell in front of you with an overhand grip and hands close together. Keep your arms extended.
  • Tighten your core and pull the bar up towards your chin. Make sure that your elbows rise above your shoulder level.
  • Lower the bar back to the starting position and repeat.
  • Perform twelve to fifteen reps.

5. Pull-Ups

There’s no arguing that pull-ups are the most brutal bodyweight exercise. However, it’s a great alternative for inverted rows because this workout will get your entire upper body working and contribute to building muscles.

If you’re having difficulty performing pull-ups, try using resistance bands or an assisted pull-up machine to build up your strength. You can also train by just hanging from the bar without pulling yourself up.

How to do it

  • Hold the Pull Up Bar with both your hands roughly parallel with your shoulders or slightly wider. Your palms should be facing away from you.
  • Hang from the bar with your arms fully stretched. Bend your knees if your feet are touching the floor and pull your feet toward your bottom.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin reaches just above the bar.
  • Lower yourself back slowly and with control. Then, repeat.
  • Do eight to ten reps.

6. T-Bar Row

T-bar rows are always present in a bodybuilding workout regimen. However, it can be a little more stressful on your lower back than regular bent-over rows. You can do this exercise using a T-bar row machine, a device called landmine, or by wedging the end of the barbell into a corner. T-bar rows are a wonderful inverted row substitute since it’s also an excellent back builder.

How to do it

  • Position yourself on a T-bar platform. Then, stand with one foot on either side of the bar. Your feet should be around shoulder to hip-width apart.
  • Plant your feet flat on the ground, bend your knee slightly and hinge forward from your hips. Your back should be arched a bit.
  • Grab the handles with both hands. With your arms stretched, raise the weight until your torso is about 45 degrees and in line with the floor.
  • Bend your arms and pull the handle towards your chest. Lead with your elbows and ensure that your wrists are straight. Don’t let your lower back round.
  • Fully stretch your arms and repeat. 
  • If you think of doing some cheat repetitions, ensure that you’re using your legs for assistance. Avoid rounding your back since it can lead to some severe injuries. 

7. TRX Row

This next alternative has a very similar movement to an inverted row with the added challenge of having to focus on coordination and stability. To ensure that you’re doing it right, keep your back straight throughout the entire movement. Also, your head should be in a neutral position and don’t let your back arch.

How to do it

  • Grab the TRX handles in each hand and start to step away from the anchor point.
  • Once you feel the tension in the TRX straps and your arms fully stretched, shuffle your feet forward. Then, angle your body backward until it’s about 30-60 degrees. Your arms should be fully stretched as you hold the handles. Also, your body should be in a straight line.
  • Bend your elbows as you pull your torso up. Your palms should be facing inwards and your feet planted on the floor.
  • Lower back down and repeat.
  • Perform twelve to fifteen reps.

8. Chest-Supported Row

With most rowing exercises, you put at least a small amount of stress on your lower back. However, with Chest-Supported Rows, you don’t. In this inverted row alternative, your entire body has a bench for support. So, you’re freer to focus on activating your traps and lats. Depending on your preference, you can do this workout with a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbells.

How to do it

  • Put a flat bench on stacked weight plates or blocks, ensuring that it’s perfectly stable. Lie face down on the bench and hang your arms straight downwards. Grab the dumbbell or barbell and pull your shoulders down and back.
  • Bend your arms with your elbows leading and your wrist straight. Then, pull the weight up towards the side of your chest.
  • Stretch your arms and repeat.
  • Do as many reps as you see fit.

9. 3-Point Plank Row

This substitute for inverted rows will give your core a good burn. With 3-point plank rows, you’ll be activating one arm at a time, making it suitable for overloading your lats. Perform this exercise using a kettlebell or a single dumbbell. 

How to do it

  • Put one hand on a bench and move your feet back to straighten your body. Tighten your core.
  • While holding a kettlebell or single dumbbell, row the weight up and towards your lower ribs. Ensure that your hips and shoulders are square. 
  • Stretch your arm and repeat.
  • Rest for a few minutes, then do the same number of repetitions on the opposite side. 

10. Push Press

This Push Press for inverted rows alternatives will work your shoulders and back muscles and force you to activate your core to keep everything controlled. To ensure that you’re performing this workout safe and in good form, poke your head through the gap your arms create at the top of the motion. Then, move it back a bit as you put the barbell down.

How to do it

  • Clean the barbell onto the front of your shoulders so your hands are underneath the bar and your palms are facing up.
  • With your knees bent slightly, push the bar up until you fully extend your arms. However, don’t lock your elbows.
  • Momentarily hold at the top, then bring the barbell down back to your shoulders and repeat. 
  • Perform ten to twelve reps.


While inverted rows are great at increasing muscle mass in the back, doing it always may end up wasting your time and efforts. So, to keep your workouts productive and exciting, try these alternatives, particularly the single-arm dumbbell row and the seated cable row! Although each one primarily targets your back and core muscles, they’re still varied to keep you out of the ruts.

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