Top 13 Inverted Row Alternative Exercises to Help You Build a Strong Back

Inverted rows are great for engaging the arms, upper body, abdominals, and even the hamstrings and glutes. We will, in this guide, look at some top inverted row alternative exercises you can do at home to achieve your fitness goals

inverted row alternative exercise

Inverted rows engage more muscles than any other exercise. They’re great for engaging the arms, upper body, abdominals, and even the hamstrings and glutes. But a major downside is that they require a lot of space. That’s why I’ve put together 13 inverted row alternative exercises that you can do instead to help you tone and strength your back.

inverted row alternative exercise with TRX

For many of us who find it difficult to visit the gym regularly, purchasing or obtaining a squat rack to use in our home gym will be a big ask. Thus, you can do these inverted row alternative exercises without any complex equipment like a squat rack.

So, if you want a stronger back with more shoulder strength, then keep reading.

What Are Inverted Rows?

Inverted rows are a set of exercises performed in the supine (back facing down) position. They’re great exercises for beginners and engage most of your back muscles.


  • Good for beginners.
  • Improves grip.
  • Engages lower body muscles.
  • Improves backward rotation of the shoulders.


  • Squat rack.
  • Smith machine.
  • TRX suspension straps.

Muscles Engaged

Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, integral and external obliques, hamstrings, glutes, infraspinatus, biceps, trapezius, forearms, posterior deltoids, teres minor,


  • Requires a lot of space.
  • Needs heavy equipment and weight.

13 Best Inverted Row Alternative Exercises to Help you Build Your Back

You want to build your back from the comfort of your home, and you don’t want to splash on expensive equipment. Not a problem. if that is your goal, then, here are the top inverted row alternative exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment to help you tone and strengthen your back.


Pull-ups are one of the top inverted row alternative exercises for building upper body strength. This exercise requires a pull-up bar, but any sturdy bar will work.

main doing pull-ups inverted row alternative exercise

Steps to Follow

  • Grab the pull-up bar with both your hands, ensuring that they’re shoulder-width apart. It’s also essential to have your palms facing away from you.
  • Hang down from the bar, fully extending your arms and slightly bending your knees.
  • Pull yourself up slowly so that your chin lies right above the pull-up bar.
  • Slowly pull yourself back down.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.


  • It’ll take a lot of practice to get used to the exercise if this is your first time doing the pull-ups inverted row aternative exercise. But keep practising and you will succeed.

Assisted Pull-Up

You will need an assisted pull-up machine or resistance band for this alternative to inverted row exercise.

assisted pull-up inverted row alternative exercise

With an assisted pull-up machine, the weight you use will determine how challenging the exercise can be. The greater the weight you are using, the easier the exercise becomes and vice-versa. That is because the equipment will counterbalance your weight with the weight you put on the equipment.

Thus, you should start this inverted row alternative exercise with more weight if you are a beginner or are not confident. Keep reducing the weights as you get more confidence.

If you’re having trouble with regular pull-ups, or are exercising in your home gym, you can try the band-assisted pull-ups instead.

For this inverted row alternative at home exercise, you’ll need a resistance band and a pull-up bar.

Steps to Follow

Secure your resistance band on your pull-up bar.

  • Place a foot in the resistance band. It’s important to only put one foot in to leave the other foot free for balancing yourself.
  • Grab onto the pull-bar with your hands shoulder-width apart or more comprehensive and your palms facing away from you.
  • Pull yourself up gradually until your chin is above the bar. The resistance band will help you as it releases tension.
  • Lower yourself gradually while maintaining the same posture.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Bodyweight Inverted Row Alternative Exercise

bodyweight inverted row alternative exercise

Instead of using special equipment for inverted rows, you can use your body weight. For this inverted row alternative at home, you’ll use just your body weight for the exercise.

Steps to Follow

  • Find an object with good support. For example, a table or chair is a good idea, but it must be sturdy enough to handle your body weight.
  • Grab onto the edge of your object with both hands, with your palms about shoulder-width apart. Your palms can be slightly wider than that too. But they should be facing away from you.
  • Your legs should extend outward such that your back is towards the floor and you’re hanging from the object.
  • Let yourself hang. Then, gradually pull yourself up while maintaining the same posture.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps or as many times as it is comfortable.

Bodyweight Incline Rows

bodyweight Incline rows

Much like inverted rows, you can perform incline rows with your body weight. And the best part is you don’t need any complex or even simple calisthenics equipment for this.

Steps to Follow

  • Get in front of a door and throw a bedsheet over the door. You can use a resistance band as well if you need some help doing the rows.
  • Close the door and lock it tightly such that one end of the bedsheet hangs from the door.
  • Then, grab onto either side of the bedsheet. It helps to fold the bedsheet so it can be comfortably held at shoulder-width.
  • Lean back so that your body is at an almost 45-degree angle with the door. Your feet should touch the door for support.
  • Hang back and gradually pull yourself up towards your hands.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

single arm dumbbell row

If you have access to dumbbells, then, the single-arm dumbbell row is a good inverted row alternative exercise. By focusing on just one side of your body at a time, you will be transferring more force and tension to your back muscles.

Steps to Follow

  • Set a dumbbell on the floor right next to your bench. Place your left knee on the bench such that your chin is parallel to the bench and your thigh perpendicular. Your other foot should be on the ground to support you.
  • Bend your upper body over so that it’s almost parallel to the ground. You may place your left hand on the bench for support.
  • Use your right hand to grab the dumbbell, ensuring that the palm is facing toward you.
  • Begin to pull the dumbbell up to about chest height near your midsection. You’ll need to bend your arm for this.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then gradually lower the dumbbell. Your back should remain straight throughout.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.
  • Reverse your position and repeast the process with the other side of your body.

3-Point Plank Row

The 3-point plank row is a variation of the single-arm dumbbell row. Except, in this inverted row alternative, you’ll be doing an inclined plank along with the row.

Steps to Follow

  • Set a dumbbell on the floor right next to your bench and place one arm on the bench for support.
  • Walk your legs back so that you’re inclined at almost a 45-degree angle. Your hips should be in line with your body, and your back should be straight. You should be standing on tip-toes.
  • Pick up the dumbbell so that it’s just below your lower ribs. In this state, your elbow and upper arm would be perfectly straight and in line with your body.
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and extend your arm downward.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps. Then do the same for the other arm.

Renegade Rows

renegade rows

This is another variation of the single-arm dumbbell row and a good inverted row alternative exercise. Renegade rows require you to work both arms simultaneously. They’re also ideal for training the core to withstand rotation and extension.

Steps to Follow

  • Place two dumbbells or kettlebells shoulder-width apart on the floor and squat down.
  • Now, grab onto the weights and walk your feet back so that you’re in a pushup/inclined plank position. Your body and hips should be straight. Your neck should be neutral.
  • Pick up only one weight using your arm. The weight should be pulled up to below your midsection or until the elbow is parallel to the body.
  • Extend your arm downward and place the weight back, still grabbing it.
  • Pick up the weight in your other arm and do the same.
  • Go back and forth for 10-12 reps in each arm.


trx inverted row alternative exercise

You can easily do the TRX row at home. You only need a TRX strap or gymnastic rings which are not expensive to acquire. It’s an inverted bodyweight row alternative. The exercise works on your balance and coordination as well.

Steps to Follow

  • Affix an anchor point on the wall and get yourself a TRX band. You can use gymnastic rings too, but they’ll be less effective. 
  • Hold the handles/rings in either hand and step away from the anchor.
  • Lean back so that you’re almost at a 30 to 60-degree angle. Your body should be perfectly straight, and your palms should face toward you. Your arms should be extended so that there’s some distance between you and the handles.
  • Now, bend the elbows and pull yourself up until you reach the handles. Keep the body and legs straight and feet grounded.
  • Lower yourself to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.

Reverse Fly

Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is a good inverted row alternative exercise for beginners. While it is a newbie exercise, it provides extraordinary amounts of gain, especially to the back muscles.

Steps to Follow

  • Stand up straight and grab a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward so that your body is at a 30 or 45-degree angle. Your knees should be slightly bent.
  • Let your arms hang with the dumbbells.
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, pull the dumbbells out to either side. Your arms should remain mostly straight with only a very slight bend. In this position, you’ll feel your shoulder blades pushing against each other.
  • Hold this pose for 1-2 seconds, and extend your arm back down, maintaining the slight bend.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Upright Row

upright row with ez bar

The upright row requires a bit more equipment, but it’s a great inverted row alternative exercise. It is regarded by some experts as one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your shoulders and back.

Steps to Follow

  • Pick up a barbell or EZ bar and add as many weights as you want to it. Then, grab it with both hands so that they are shoulder-width apart and the palms have an overhand grip.
  • Tighten your abs and pull the bar up until it reaches just below the chin. Your elbows will be bent and flaring out above your shoulders.
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and lower the bar.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.

Yates Row

yates inverted row alternative

The Yates row is a variation to the bent-over inverted row alternative exercise, named after the six-time Mr. Olympia title winner Dorian Yates. It requires a barbell and lots of upper body strength.

Steps to Follow

  • Place a barbell down onto the floor with a suitable number of weights.
  • Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, ensuring the hands are shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and tighten your core.
  • Stand up with your feet about hip-width apart, and your knees bent slightly.
  • From here, you can use deadlift weights, or you can use a rack to pick them up from thigh height.
  • Now, slightly bend your arms and pull the bar up, so it touches your upper abdomen. Your elbows should be tucked in and steady.
  • Push the bar back to its original position.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Double Kettlebell Bent-Over Row

double kettlebell bent-over row - inverted row alternative exercise

If you have kettlebells, then you can benefit from the double kettlebell bent-over row. This inverted row at home alternative engages more muscles since you’ll be using kettlebells.

Steps to Follow

  • Place two kettlebells in front of you about shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand up straight, keeping your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and ensure your back is straight.
  • Bend over so that your body forms a 30 or 60-degree angle.
  • Grab the kettlebells and slightly bend your elbows.
  • Pull the kettlebells up to your upper abdomen or lower ribs, bending your elbow even more in the process. Ideally, your elbows should be parallel to your body, but they can be above the back too.
  • Now, extend your arms back down while still grabbing the kettlebells. Again, do not let them hit the floor.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Back-Extension Row

back-extension row

The back-extension row is a great inverted row alternative exercise that targets many muscle groups at once. However, it requires a barbell or a pair of dumbbells and some help from a friend.

Steps to Follow

For this, you’ll need to lie on your stomach on a bench. There should be enough space between the bench and the floor for you to extend your arms fully. Additionally, you’ll need someone to grab your feet to keep them steady, if you find that convenient. You can also wedge your feet somewhere to secure them.

  • In the supine position, pick up the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and with an overhand grip.
  • Pull the barbell up to your lower ribs/upper abdomen to parallel your elbows to the body.
  • Extend the barbell back down to its starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.


What is the best inverted row alternative exercise?

The Yates Row is by far the best inverted row alternative exercise. It’s a tried and tested method that shows significant gains and provides adequate strength in your back. You’ll need a barbell for this one, though.

  1. Crockford J. (2015). 4 Moves to help you master the pull-up.
  2. Smith S. (n.d.). Tips for better pull-ups.
  3. National Academy of Sports Medicine. Three awesome row exercise variations.
  4. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. (2012).
  5. Kovar E. (2014). The posterior-chain workout.

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