My older clients are continuously looking for exercises that will strengthen their backs so they can build better posture—specifically the ones who sit most of the day. The inverted row is one exercise I found that works well for this group. This is one of the rowing exercises that can be accomplished by using your own bodyweight, but do not let that make you think this is a wimpy exercise. I have a few clients who couldn’t do one rep from the standard position when they first started, but they became stronger after they faced the challenge. Your complete posterior chain is included in the movement, so you get more work for your calf muscles, glutes, and hamstrings.
To get started, find a barbell and squat rack, or a Smith machine. You will place the bar at a height that is just beyond reach when you are laying beneath it and have your arms extended. When the bar is in position, grab it using an overhand grip, place your hands wider than shoulder length apart. Pull yourself up with your elbows extended fully so your calves, shoulders, back, and glutes are off the floor. Your heels should be the only part touching the floor. While you are holding your position, begin squeezing your glutes while bracing your core. Make sure to focus on keeping a straight line between your heels, hips, and all the way up to your shoulders. Lift your body up, and pull the bar to your chest. Squeeze at the top, keep your torso position firm, then come down to where you started from.
The point of the row is not the height that you can raise yourself up or the length of time you can hold the position. The point is to keep your shoulder blades and glutes engaged so you can keep your body in a straight line.
Do not get frustrated if you can’t touch your chest to the bar in the beginning. Instead focus on keeping a firm line from shoulders to heels without breaking your posture. Raise the bar position if you can’t lift your body up at all. The exercise is easier when the angle of your body relative to the floor is larger.
Author: Scott Dowdy