7 Powerful Renegade Row Alternatives

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Renegade rows can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to renegade rows with similar benefits?

Renegade rows are a resistance training exercise where you do one-handed rows while you are in a plank position.

Among other benefits, renegade rows can strengthen your upper back, core, forearms, biceps, and shoulder muscles, they can improve your posture, improve balance and coordination, they can help you burn calories, etc.

Whether you don’t enjoy renegade rows, you want to focus more on specific muscles, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these alternatives to renegade rows can offer you some or all of the same benefits.

Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like any exercise, there is always some risk of injury. Implement a good technique to keep your injury risk low. When in doubt talk to an expert.

1. Dumbbell bent-over rows

You can do this first renegade row alternative with other back exercise equipment like kettlebells, resistance bands, a cable machine, a barbell sandbags, etc. too. However, the dumbbell alternative comes closest to the renegade row. To do a bent-over row with dumbbells take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width and a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Slightly fold your knees and tilt your upper body forward until it is at about a 45-degree angle with the ground while keeping your back straight. Let your arms hang down to the ground for now.
  3. Bend your elbows until your hands reach your body. The goal is to mainly make your back muscles support this movement. Keep your arms close to your body, your body in a straight line, and your feet in the same position during the movement.
  4. Lower your hands again to the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.

Dumbbell bent-over rows work out one side at a time and they help you strengthen similar muscles as the renegade row. Bent-over rows are different in that they focus more on your back core muscles and erector spinae instead of abs.

A potential downside of both of these exercises is that dumbbell only go up to a certain weight. Individuals more experienced with back training may need a barbell or machine to keep growing the strong upper back muscles.

2. Bicycle crunches

For bicycle crunches you preferably want a yoga mat or other soft surface to lie on. To do a bicycle crunch take the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Hold your hands against the side of your head with your elbows pointing sideways.
  2. Raise your shoulders and push your lower back against the ground with the help of your ab muscles.
  3. Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your elbow to the knee of the opposite side (for example your left elbow to your right knee) while stretching the leg of the side of the elbow you use while still keeping it off the ground (continuing the example stretching your left leg).
  4. Bring the stretched leg back into the starting position and repeat with the other side. Keep your shoulders off the ground during the exercise.
How to do a bicycle crunch

Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your abs and obliques really work hard and to avoid bad technique.

Bicycle crunches are definitely not a renegade alternative for training your upper back muscles. However, this is exercise is effective for training your core muscles, even more so than renegade rows.

That means you can combine bicycle crunches in a workout plan with something like bent-over rows for similar results, possibly to a bigger extent, as a renegade row.

3. Dumbbell pullovers

For the dumbbell pullover you preferably want a dumbbell and a flat weight bench. Once you have these to do a dumbbell pullover take the following steps:

  1. Lie on a weight bench with your head on the end of the bench. Hold the dumbbell in your hands hand.
  2. Extend your arms upward until they are slightly less than stretched and point them up.
  3. Slowly move back your arms as far as comfortable. To engage your back muscles more instead of your lower chest bring your elbows slightly more away from your body. Your arms stay slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  4. Move your arms back to the position in step 2 in a controlled motion.

If you feel your lower chest muscles working a lot harder than your latissimus dorsi your technique may be off. In that case, you likely have to focus more on bringing your elbows outward enough.

An upside or downside of dumbbell pullovers as a renegade alternative, depending on your training goals, is that they are more of a lat isolation exercise.

Other muscles like your biceps, core, shoulders, etc. will not have to do much.

4. Pull-ups

The pull-up is a classic compound back exercise that is a great alternative to renegade rows. It is true that you need something to do the pull-up on but even if you currently don’t have something like this, a doorway pull-up bar is relatively inexpensive.

To do a pull-up take the following steps:

  1. Hang from the pull-up bar with your hands at about shoulder-width with your hand palms facing forward.
  2. Pull your body up slowly until your shoulders are the height of the bar.
  3. Lower your body again into starting position in a controlled motion.

One potential downside is that pull-ups are too challenging for many people. If that is the case you can start with some of the other options on this list to strengthen your muscles.

On the other hand, if you are more experienced with resistance training, bodyweight pull-ups may currently be too easy. In that case, you can make pull-ups weighted with equipment like a dip belt, weighted vest, ankle weights, or a dumbbell clamped between your feet.

5. Plank shoulder taps

To do a plank shoulder tap take the following steps:

  1. Start in the high plank position with your feet wider than usual. This means on your hands and front feet with stretched arms and a stretched body. Keep your shoulder above your hands.
  2. Shift your weight to one arm and lift the hand of the other side to tap the shoulder of the opposite side. Try not to swing back and forth too much.
  3. Return the hand to starting position and repeat with the hand of the other side.
How to do a plank shoulder tap

The main attention point when doing plank shoulder taps is keeping your body straight. Do not lower your hips too much but don’t raise them too much either.

Part of the challenge when doing renegade rows is balance and coordination. Plank shoulder taps can be a great alternative to train these things without equipment. At the same time you also get a small amount of core training.

6. Seated cable rows

The seated low row machine is a type of gym machine where you sit down with your feet on sloping pads to brace yourself against the resistance caused by the weight you will row.

Similar to the renegade row this movement will work out a variety of back muscles. One potential downside or upside depending on your training goals is that you engage your core muscles a lot less.

How to use a seated low row machine is relatively straightforward. Select your desired resistance, adjust the seat, take place in the seat, grab the handle, and push yourself back with your legs a small distance.

You then pull the handle horizontally toward your stomach while keeping your back straight and your upper arms close to your body.

Once the handle reaches your body return your hands to starting position in a controlled motion. You can start off with light weights and once your technique is good, increase the weights for more and faster muscle gain.

7. Inverted rows

For inverted rows you can use a sturdy barbell rack with a bar, sturdy table, dip bars, gymnastic rings, or trx bands.

If you are more experienced with resistance training this renegade row alternative may not be enough to engage your back muscles enough for a lot of muscle growth. To do an inverted row with a barbell rack take the following steps:

  1. Sit or lie down with your back on the ground under the barbell.
  2. Put your hand in an overhanded position on the barbell at about shoulder width.
  3. Move your body so your arms are stretched, your knees are at about a 90-degree angle, and the rest of your body is in a straight line.
  4. Raise your body by slightly bending your elbows until your body reaches the bar. The goal is to mainly make your back muscles support this movement. Keep your arms close to your body, your body in a straight line, and your feet in the same position during the movement.
  5. Slowly lower yourself again until you are back in the position of the third step.

A regular weight lifting row involves standing bent over and moving an external weight up and down. With this inverted row, you will move your body weight up and down in a way that targets similar upper body muscles.

One of the main differences is that inverted rows focus more on your back core muscles. This is the opposite of renegade rows where you engage front core muscles like your abs.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.