If you’re trying to get your first pull up (or want to improve your pull ups), then the bodyweight row is a must-do exercise. They are one of the most useful movements in your calisthenics arsenal.
I do bodyweight rows every week because they’re that great! In this article, we will explore why you should do bodyweight rows, how to do them with the correct technique, and the variations you can consider.
A strong back exercise is essential for developing upper body strength. Exercises such as the bodyweight rows is a compound exercise that targets the lats, traps, posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and erector spinae. The secondary muscles worked are the abdominals, biceps, forearms, glutes, and hamstrings.
This variation emphasizes the biceps and lats because of the supination of the hand, creating more isolated or contracted muscle isolation.
The hammer grip is good for targeting the outer head of the biceps brachii, the brachioradialis, and the brachialis. It can increase bicep size and strength and help develop grip strength.
Ring rows are great for beginners who are new to ring training. It’s a progression exercise for anyone who wants to develop strength for unassisted ring pull ups.
TRX rows target all the major muscle groups of your back (lats, rhomboids, traps, biceps, shoulders, and core). This is great if you want to develop upper body strength without using weights at the gym.
This exercise is great for developing upper body unilateral strength. More often than not, your dominant side does most of the work which causes muscular imbalances. Single-arm rows will fix this issue.
One of the most difficult body exercises for beginners is the pull up. This exercise requires high upper body strength and endurance to be able to pull up until your chin clears the bar. Bodyweight rows mimic the movement path of the pull up but at a lower intensity as your body is positioned at an inclined slope.
This will strengthen the arms and back muscles that are primarily used for the pull up.
Bodyweight rows can be executed using different grips (overhand, underhand, and hammer), each of which has its own benefits. They all activate the forearm muscles, which can overall improve your grip strength.
A 2019 study suggests that grip strength is a measure of body function, and uses it as a biomarker for aging. In fact, good grip strength is a good indicator of overall positive physical and cognitive function in older adults.
This is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups at a single time, which includes your back, biceps, forearms, and core. The movement path will help you to build muscle using nothing more than your body weight.
According to Men’s Health, the inverted row is a core training principle that can build strength and size in your back without picking up weights. So you better get rowing to get those gains!
There you have it, six bodyweight rows exercises you can do during your next back workout. These variations will target different muscle groups within your back and arms muscles. (By the way, if you want to complement your back training with some bicep progression, here’s my personal guide to bodyweight bicep training).
I suggest you choose 3-4 of these bodyweight rows variations to train and work towards being able to complete 12 reps for 3 sets, unbroken. Once you can do this, you will be able to do pull ups effortlessly.
But no matter how far along you are in your fitness journey, you should ask yourself: Are you doing these movements correctly? Should you be doing more or fewer reps? What do you eat to enhance your gains?
We have created Online Coaching Programs to address these questions directly. Your own personal online coach will create a customized program based on your experience and goals, and check your form on each movement. Check out what Training Program is best for you!
My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.