How To Renegade Row – A Great Full Body Exercise

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In this post, I want to share with you how to renegade row and the benefits of doing this exercise. This is one of my favorite exercises lately.  This is a great full body exercise but really hammers my core.

I have been dealing with back problems for many years.  Part of the problem for me is a lack of focus on core strength.  Renegade rows are a great exercise to help with my problem core area.How to renegade row

It’s funny, I do planks pretty often, and I get so used to doing them that it’s not really all that hard anymore.  Renegade rows are a great variation on doing traditional planks.  The thing I noticed though is that when I try to add variety to a simple, regular exercise, it’s challenging to do so.

Starting to do renegade rows has been a challenge for me since my core is not as strong as I would like it to be. Honestly, my core is a lot weaker than I thought and that is pretty depressing.  My core deficiency shows up when I try an exercise like this.

The problem for me has been that I didn’t put in the work to strengthen my core, because it’s pretty tedious work, or so I thought. I was lazy and just wanted to get in and out of the gym as quickly as possible.

So, I decided to change things up and start doing more compound movements that are functional and really work my core.  It’s been a bit of humble pie, and that is a good thing.

Equipment needed for renegade rows

You can perform this exercise with dumbbells, or kettlebells and I have done it both ways.  I prefer using kettlebells, but if you don’t have any, you can certainly use dumbbells.

For a modification, you can also try this movement with no weights at all.  The value here is to get used to shifting your weight onto three limbs instead of all four, creating an imbalance.  If you are not used to this imbalance, that may be enough of a challenge to start with.

Sometimes just the simple aspect of trying a variation of a traditional exercise is challenging since we get used to doing things a certain way. So just getting used to shifting your weight is a good start.

How to perform renegade rows

The movement starts on all fours, in the top of a tall plank or pushup position with your grip on the weights.  You will want your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart.  Keep your feet about the same width as your hands. You basically want to keep your upper and lower body aligned and rigid, straight from head to heels.

Then do single arm alternating rows, bringing the weight up to your ribs, just below your armpit. Keep your elbow tucked snug to your side as you bring the weight up.  You should only be moving your arm and shoulder, keep your core tight and don’t let your body twist. After you finish one side, alternate to the next.  You can do a set of 10 to get started and work your way up from there.

The goal is to keep your spine in a neutral position and resist rotating your hips and/or spine. Core stability is the name of the game with this exercise.

It is essential that you start out with a pretty low weight so you can get the form right on this one.

Muscles used with renegade rows

  • Biceps and triceps
  • Trapezius (traps) – The muscles in your upper back
  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) – These run on both side of your mid and lower back
  • Core – You entire midsection. I like to think of it as the bottom of your rib cage to the bottom of your butt.  There are different definitions of what exactly encompasses the core, but this gives you an idea.

Renegade row benefits

The value of an exercise like this is that you train both sides of the body equally.  This can really help to prevent overtraining your dominant side. This is one thing I have really noticed.  My back problems have always affected the right side of my body, like sciatic nerve pain down my right leg.

Doing unilateral exercises like renegade rows have really pointed out the ugly truth as to how weak I have become on the right side compared to the left.  So doing exercises like this help to strengthen my right side.

Renegade rows also work more than just your back, like a more traditional row does. This is really a full body exercise, as you have to be mindful to keep your back straight and engage your core.  I love renegade rows because they point out my deficiencies and make me work harder. It’s a great compound movement that is very functional.

Variations of renegade rows

  • Pushups – You can add a pushup in between each set if you want to add some complexity and variety. After you row on each side, you can incorporate a pushup.  So right row left row, then do a pushup.  Then return to the top of the pushup position and repeat.
  • Incline – To make the renegade row easier, you can do it without weights, or use a workout bench, anything that will elevate your upper body.
  • Decline – Just the opposite of making your life easier, elevating your feet will make renegade rows harder. Again, you can use a workout bench, or box to raise your feet and perform them that way.

Conclusion: How To Renegade Row

Your core is the center of your body, and adding strength to this area can help prevent back problems.  Strong core muscles can also help you perform everyday tasks. See my article here for benefits of core strength.

I can tell you from experience that adding total body, unilateral exercise is no joke.  This type of training is excellent for someone like me since I am weaker on my right side.  I can do renegade rows pretty easily with an 8kg kettlebell on my left side, but it’s a struggle on the right. I will keep doing them until I am evened out.

Having a dominant side is natural, but you don’t really want to have significant imbalances, and an exercise like renegade rows can help. If you have considerable strength differences, you may be at higher risk of injury [1].

To recap, a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you practice proper form
  • Start with low weight or no weight

Thank you for stopping by today.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.


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