Stop Doing Renegade Rows and Do These 2 Exercises Instead
“I didn’t know dry humping and face planting the floor was an effective workout…”
This is probably what goes through your head when you see someone (trying to) perform renegade rows. Needless to say, most people royally screw them up, usually resulting in something between a seizure and really bad break dancing.
There are two exercises you can do that give you the same (if not, more) return as renegade rows…minus the flailing. But before that…what’s a renegade row?
It’s is a single arm dumbbell row while in a push-up position. The two main benefits, when performed optimally, include:
- Anti-rotational core work: When your torso works really hard not to twist and maintain a “neutral” position while your outer extremities (arms and/or legs) are in motion.
- Mid-back/lat engagement: Any horizontal rowing motion (bent over row, seated row, etc) is going to incorporate some combination of your mid back muscles. Different variations result in different recruitment.
The issue? No one does renegade rows right, so the benefits get thrown out the window. Common mistakes include:
- Over-pulling: Most people will pull their arms too far back. When you do this, you’ll typically round forward at the shoulders, eliminating any use of your back muscles (which is the main objective of the row in the first place).
- Twisting/compensation: Remember that anti-rotational thing? You won’t reap the core benefits if you’re twisting and shouting.
- No control: The first thing most people do after they work so hard to pull that dumbbell off the floor is let it drop just as fast. What ever happened to control and eccentric loading? Is that not cool anymore?
So, why do them at all?
Everyone likes efficiency, so if you can accomplish two things in one (working your back muscles while training your core), it seems like the right thing to do. And there’s nothing wrong with that, until you do them…wrong.
Try these two exercises instead. Why? Because I said so. Just kidding. They’re harder to “cheat” your way through and still hold the benefits the renegade row offers.
This anti-rotational exercise is what the renegade row wishes it could be. It’s simple to understand, but challenging to execute. Particularly if you’re doing it right.
How to do it:
- Get into a push-up position
- Have a kettlebell or dumbbell on the outside of one of your arms
- Reach across your chest with the other arm and pull it through to your other side
- Keep non-moving arm stiff and push yourself away from the floor
- Squeeze your glutes and stay engaged throughout the set
- Keep your back flat
- Imagine you’re trying to balance a glass of water on your lower back.
- Or imagine there’s a mini-you on your back and there’s a pool of lava underneath. If you’re using this cue, just make sure the mini-person on your back is someone you don’t want to plummet. So maybe don’t use your mother-in-law.
2. BIRDDOG ROW
One of my faves, and soon to be one of your faves. The birddog row takes the contra-lateral components of the birddog and applies it to the dumbbell row. Contra-lateral meaning opposites sides are working or moving (right arm/left leg and vice versa).
How to do it:
Get on all fours (hands and knees) on a bench, holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand
Have your left hand on the bench and extend your left leg back straight
Row the dumbbell up toward your hip
Slowly lower the dumbbell for a 2-4 sec eccentric (this is the key to maintaining control and not losing balance)
Keep your stabilizing arm stiff the entire time and push yourself away from the bench
Maintain a flat back throughout