The inverted row isn’t a complicated move but there are still plenty of room to make inverted row mistakes. It is easily progressed and regressed depending on the lifter’s experience. That and being an excellent movement for the forearms, biceps, upper back, and lats is why it should be in almost every lifters program in some way, shape, and form.

It is not as sexy as a chinup or pullup, but it’s easier, trains similar muscles, and most lifters can do more reps of the inverted row than the exercises above. What does that mean? It means more impressive back gains for you, but only if you do it right. We are not talking about nitpicky errors but ones that will prevent you from getting the best out of this excellent exercise.

Let’s understand how to do it, what is needed for the inverted row, and four common inverted row mistakes that are preventing your gains.

Let’s row to grow, baby with these fixes to common inverted row mistakes!

How to Do Tthe Inverted Row

  1.   Set a barbell up the barbell in the squat rack at a height that your body doesn’t touch the ground when you extend your arms.
  2.   Lay underneath the barbell aligning it with your lower chest.
  3.   Grip the barbell with an over or underhanded grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width, and straighten your legs while staying on the ground.
  4.   Squeeze your glutes and perform a hip extension to get up with your body in a straight line from head to heel.
  5.   Pull your lower chest toward the bar by bringing your scapula together.
  6.  When your scapula is fully contracted, lower down until your elbows are extended.

Form Fixes for Inverted Row Mistakes

  • Grip strength because if you cannot grip it, you cannot rip it.
  • You have a decent amount of core and glute strength, so you’re not folding in half like a deck chair when performing the inverted row.
  • Absence of anterior shoulder and elbow discomfort because the barbell locks you into an under or overhand grip; it can aggravate already aggravated joints.
  • A good amount of shoulder and thoracic mobility to keep your shoulders down and chest up, and spine neutral.

Note: Some of the above can be worked around by regressing the barbell inverted row by setting the barbell higher on the squat so gravity is less of a factor.

4 Common Inverted Row Mistakes and Fixes

The inverted row is less technical than a barbell squat or deadlift, but there are a few things to watch out for to get the best out of this excellent exercise. Here are four common errors to watch out for with the barbell inverted row.

Man working out and avoiding wrist injuries using a wrist strap

Losing Wrist Position

When you lose the neutral wrist position and start pulling with bent or “broken” wrists will shift more stress to your elbows and shoulders, which may cause them to flip you the bird. It also fatigues your grip strength, limiting the reps you will do.

Fix it: It is simple advice to keep a straight wrist, but sometimes it isn’t easy. You can do a couple of things if wrist bending is an issue. First, think about pulling your elbows and not your hands. Two wrist straps or grip assister will work or keep your wrists neutral by using a football bar, angles 90 grips, or TRX variation.

Muscular bodybuilder demonstrating inverted row mistakes fixes
Per Bernal

Pulling Up To High On The Chest

To get the best results, pulling to the lower chest works best. Pulling to your upper chest decreases lat engagement, increases upper back activation, and can jam your shoulder area up.

Fix it: Take the time during the setup phase to align your lower chest with the barbell, and if you find yourself pulling too high up on the chest, stop and reset so your lower chest is in line with the barbell.

Man making inverted row mistakes as he works out his chest and arms
Jasminko Ibrakovic

Losing Tension

Think of the inverted row as a moving upside-down plank, or more to the point, a Chinese Plank. Losing tension with all these exercises will cause you to lose good position through low back arching. Losing tension in your glutes will cause your body to sag, and all the benefits of the inverted row go bye-bye.

Fix It: Let’s state the obvious from the get-go, squeeze your glutes. Crack a walnut between your cheeks or any other cue that prompts you to engage your behind works. If you lose tension, discontinue the set and rest, and reset.

Muscular man making inverted row mistakes- wrong hand position
MDV Edwards

Incorrect Hand Position

The inverted row needs a wider than shoulder-width apart grip because you don’t want your upper arm butting in your sides and stopping the full range of motion. Much like a push-up, you need a 45-degree angle upper arm angle.

Fix it: Take the time during your set-up to find your best grip, ensuring your hands are NOT directly in line with your shoulders.