So you’ve turned your back on regular rows. You’ve done so many that the one-arm row, the cable row, the upright row, the inverted row, even – gasp – the bent-over row no longer satisfy. You need something better, more impressive, harder. You sir, are a renegade, and you need an exercise that matches your willingness to turn your back on the norm. Meet the renegade row.
This tough compound exercise strengthens almost every part of the upper body as well as working the core as you struggle to hold an elevated position while lifting the dumbbells.
The other thing the renegade row does effectively is highlight any imbalances in the strength of your upper body. You’ll soon notice if the move is far harder on one side than the other, despite the dumbbells’ equal weights.
On the topic of weights, this is not an exercise to overestimate your strength on. Opt for too heavy a dumbbell and you’ll quickly lose your form and twist and jerk all over the place. Trust us when we say that even with a light weight, the renegade row will test your limits if you slow down and nail the form throughout.
How To Do A Renegade Row
Grab a pair of light dumbbells or kettlebells – err on the side of caution with the weight the first time you try the renegade row. You’ll probably need weights with a flat side to rest on – round dumbbells may roll under the inexperienced. Get into a press-up position with a dumbbell in each hand. Brace your body, then raise one of the dumbbells, supporting yourself on the other arm.
Row the weight upward until your upper arm is slightly higher than your torso, then slowly lower it back down to the ground. Aim for three sets of eight to 10 reps on each arm, you can either do one side all at once, or alternate. Once you can complete 10 on each side comfortably, increase either the reps or the weight.
Renegade Row Variations
Kneeling renegade row
If you find the full version of the exercise too tricky at first, try it with your knees on the ground. The rest of the movement stays the same, but the challenge to your core and upper body is reduced.
Renegade row with press-up
This one explains itself. You’ll have noticed that the elevated plank position you adopt with the renegade row puts you in the perfect position to pop in a press-up in between lifts. This is a harder variation, obviously.
Kettlebell renegade row
Another trickier variation involves swapping the dumbbells for kettlebells, which provide a less stable base that increases the challenge of staying in the plank position. Use a lighter weight than you would with dumbbells as you get used to the kettlebells.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.