The renegade row is an exercise you may have never heard of before. But if you’re the type of person who won’t settle for average, then you’ll want to keep reading…
Now, when we think of a “row,” the first thing which likely comes to mind is the barbell bent over row or even the seated cable row. And don’t get us wrong… they’re amazing!
But, it’s 2019 and there are so many effective exercise variations… like the Renegade Row.
The Renegade row isn’t just for the back but it’s rather a full upper body and core movement.
Now, this isn’t an exercise to take lightly as you’ll need to train with proper form and modest weight. Balance and core stability are necessary for training safely and effectively since you’re essentially doing a one-arm plank.
So, here’s what you need to know about the Renegade row and its variations so you can put it to work for big gains!…
What is The Renegade Row?
The Renegade row combines a bodyweight exercise with weight training.
It’s unconventional in that you’ll probably see a few people doing it but it offers plenty of benefits. You can build an impressive posterior chain, plus develop your chest and arms while improving core strength. And it’s always nice to switch things up.
Sometimes training can get boring with the same old exercises, but the Renegade row challenges you further which yields the same great results.
The Renegade row is a multi-joint, multi-function movement which targets core stability and essentially every upper body muscle group.
Muscles worked include:
- Back (Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Erector Spinae)
Chest muscles get punished during the Renegade row but your biceps are heavily involved since they assist in the “pulling” portion of the movement. Shoulders are rotated to the posterior under the resistance load which stimulates the rear deltoids.
And the core must stabilize the body and protect the back while in the single-arm plank position.
Renegade Row Benefits
Unilateral (Affecting one side) training is very beneficial for improving balance, muscular imbalance, core muscle recruitment, rehabilitation, and it helps to prevent injury. (1)
An interesting observation according to research is that unilateral training can also stimulate the opposite muscle. This is a neural occurrence known as cross-education of muscles. (1)
Unilateral training also mimics real-life movements and functions as opposed to bilateral (Affecting both sides) training like when using a barbell. (2)
Core stability aims to maintain a neutral spine alignment, ideal trunk positioning, and proper load transfer along the kinetic chain. The Renegade row trains the core in a dynamic full body fashion. (3)
And the stability benefits come from trying to maintain a stable trunk during the exercise. During what we call the ‘one arm plank,’ the core must work extra hard to balance your torso.
Upper body strength
Anytime you really challenge the body through balance and weight training, you’re building a type of functional strength.
And the core stability is a must to be able to perform at a high level (It’s not negotiable).
How to Do The Renegade Row
Grab a pair of light dumbbells with flat sides if possible as they’ll stay put during the row, but round dumbbells will work too.
This is a difficult movement when just starting out and you don’t want to compromise good form which is why using very light dumbbells is ideal.
Sets and reps will depend on your level of training experience but start light and aim for 10-12 reps at first.
- Get into a push-up position with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and hands aligned directly under your shoulders. Your whole body should be in a straight line. Keep your core tight.
- Perform a push-up and after you’ve completed a rep, drive your left elbow up while maintaining good form.
- Return the dumbbell back to the starting floor, and perform another push-up.
- Then, perform the row with your other arm.
- Repeat the sequence for the desired number of reps.
- Always keep your body aligned and head straight to maintain proper form and prevent trunk rotation.
- Your body should be stationary while only your arm moves to maximally retract your shoulder blade.
- Positioning your feet with a wide stance allows you to maintain optimal balance.
- Your hands should always be directly aligned with your shoulders.
- Training with lighter weight will ensure you maintain proper form, execute the movement, and prevent injury.
Watch the Renegade Row exercise video:
4 Awesome Variations
Renegade row on knees
You don’t need to be able to do a standard push-up to do this exercise. If you lack adequate upper body strength then get on your knees and perform the exercise exactly the same.
Renegade row on an elevated surface
For this variation, place one hand on an elevated surface (No dumbbell in hand) with the other on the floor holding a dumbbell. Perform the movement like normal.
Hover Renegade row
This variation is for the most advanced because it requires a lot of balance and stabilization.
To perform the renegade row, place both feet up on a bench and hold two kettlebells flat on the floor rather than dumbbells. Do the movement as you would the dumbbell Renegade row but go very slow to prevent trunk rotation.
Landmine Renegade row
The landmine row is an interesting variation to the Renegade row because you’re using a barbell to perform the exercise. The overhand grip is a beneficial hand position because it targets more of the rhomboids and traps.
- Place the barbell on the floor with the loaded end perpendicular to your body and use a pronated (Overhand) grip.
- Get into a push-up position and grab the very end of the barbell with one hand while the other hand is on the floor.
- Perform the row for the desired amount of reps and then do the same with the opposite arm.
Any exercise can be effective if proper form and weight are used.
But the renegade row puts a whole new twist on the conventional “row” and it’s an exciting addition to any exercise routine. And you don’t need anything other than two dumbbells and decent upper body strength.
There are a lot of variations and all can be used to form an effective full body workout. But, training smart and remembering to maintain good form is a must for any exercise.
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