If you haven’t mastered this move, you have some work to do
There’s a saying: If you’re not rowing, you’re muscles aren’t growing. And there’s no better way to start doing both than with an exercise called the inverted row. According to top strength coach Michael Boyle, it’s the most underrated, underused movement there is—and it’s also one of the simplest.
Besides being a great pure muscle-builder, the inverted row is valuable because it strengthens your rear shoulders and upper back. These oft-neglected muscles directly complement the muscles used in the bench press—a benefit that can help prevent a slumped posture. Think of it this way: If you can bench-press far more than you can row, the stronger muscles on the front side of your upper body will overpower the weaker ones on the back. It’s like a tug-of-war in your torso—with your upper back ending up in the mud pit. This type of strength imbalance also shows poor shoulder stability, a key predictor of injury and chronic pain.
Take Boyle’s test: If you can’t do 10 perfect repetitions of the inverted row with perfect form, chances are you have a serious imbalance. His advice: start doing two sets of the inverted row for every one set of bench presses (or other chest exercise) that you perform. Use this approach until you eliminate your weak spot.
Ready to try it? Watch the video to see the movement—you might just find it’s the best exercise you’re not doing.