Set the bar (or your rings) around waist height. The lower the bar, the more difficult the movement becomes.
Position yourself under the bar lying face up. Lie on the floor underneath the bar (which should be set just above where you can reach from the ground).
Grab the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width (palms facing AWAY from you).
Contract your abs and butt, and keep your body a completely straight line. Your ears, shoulders, hips legs, and feet should all be in a straight line (like you’re doing a plank).
Pull yourself up to the bar until your chest touches the bar.
Lower yourself back down with proper form.
If this movement is TOO difficult, no big deal, we just need to back up a few steps.
Set the bar higher so that when you lean back, your body isn’t down on the ground; maybe it’s only at a 45-degree angle.
We’ll walk you through a row progression right here.
Here’s Staci again demonstrating it at a higher angle:
By setting the bar higher, it takes more of your body’s weight out of the equation.
As you get stronger (and/or lose weight), you’ll be able to drop the bar until you’re parallel when pulling yourself up.
I grabbed a video of Senior Coach Staci from Team NF demonstrating a bodyweight row with gymnastic rings, but the instruction you’ll get in the video will really be helpful too.
How to do a bodyweight row with explanation:
Here are some tips and tricks for doing a proper inverted bodyweight row:
Don’t let your butt sag (squeeze your buttcheeks, flex your stomach, and keep your body rigid from head to toe).
Don’t flail your elbows. Grab the bar with your hands a little closer than you would if you were doing a bench press, and keep your elbows at that angle from your body.
Pull the bar towards the middle of your chest. Don’t pull the bar up towards your throat, or down towards your belly button. Right in the middle!
Keep your abs tight. Keep your abs tight throughout the whole routine. Your body should be a straight line the whole time, and the only thing moving is your arms.
Pull your shoulder blades down and back towards each other through the movement. Don’t shrug your shoulders. Imagine you’re trying to pinch a pencil between your shoulder blades to keep it from falling!
GO all the way. Don’t half-ass it. Lower yourself until your arms are completely extended, and raise yourself until your chest touches the bar.
How to Progress with Inverted Bodyweight Rows
Let’s provide a blueprint on how you can level up your inverted bodyweight rows.
#1) Doorway Rows
At first, just start doing some rows in your doorway:
This will help you start training your “pull” muscles.
#2) Towel Rows
Still utilizing your doorway, you can use a towel to lean back even further to increase the challenge here:
Coach Jim walks you through setting up your towel row in this video, “No chin-up bar?? No problem! Five alternatives!!”
#3) Inverted Row (High)
Next, try doing an inverted row, but set the bar high so it’s easier to perform:
#4) Inverted Row (Low)
Once your inverted rows become easy, lower the bar to increase the challenge:
#5) Elevated Inverted Row
If you place your feet in the air, you’ll make this exercise even tougher:
#6) Inverted Row (Weighted)
If you really want to up the difficulty of your inverted rows, try doing it with a little bit of weight attached to you:
When Should I Do Inverted Bodyweight Rows?
If you are building your own workout plan, you can mix Inverted Bodyweight Rows in wherever you normally do your pull exercises (pull-ups, pull-downs, rows, etc.).
Are you doing your moves correctly? Should you be lifting more weight or less? What do you eat to reach your goals?
We created the Nerd Fitness Coaching program to tackle these questions directly. Your own coach will get to know you, build a program based on your experience and goals, and check your form on each movement (via video):
HOw to Do Inverted Bodyweight Rows at Home
Just because you don’t have access to a gym doesn’t mean you can’t work out your back, you just need to get VERY creative.
Here’s how you can do Inverted Bodyweight Rows at Home:
PATH ONE: Use your kitchen table. Or your desk. Be very careful with this one.
Lie underneath your table so your head and shoulder are sticking out above it.
Grab the table edge with an overhand grip, and pull yourself up (just like it’s explained above).
Warning, don’t pull the table over with you, and make sure you don’t break the thing!
PATH TWO: Get a really thick wooden dowel or pipe, something strong enough to support your weight. Lie it across two of your kitchen chairs, and then lie down underneath it.
Make sure it’s sturdy, and the bar isn’t going to break/move on ya, and pull yourself up.
Don’t forget, you want to stay in balance.
If you don’t have a pull-up bar and gymnastic rings, find a way to do some bodyweight rows whether it’s between two chairs or under a table.
Any more questions about the inverted bodyweight row?
Leave em below!
PS: Our certified NF instructors can build you a custom plan for your lifestyle and goals. Instead of worrying about what to do next, simply follow the workouts and nutrition your coach has programmed.
PPS: Be sure to check out the rest of the Strength Training 101 series:
You can also get the guide free when you sign up in the box below and join the Rebellion!
Download our comprehensive guide
Everything you need to know about getting strong.
Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
How to find the right gym and train properly in one.