While dumbbell and barbell rows are more popular upper body exercises, the inverted row works virtually the same muscle groups while providing an extra advantage. Unlike the other types of rows, inverted rows do not tend to promote rounding of the back or excess hip extension. Thus, inverted rows can help you make the most out of your efforts in the gym by ensuring that the muscles you intend to work are the focus. If you don't have the equipment for inverted rows or prefer some variety in your workout program, incorporate one or more alternatives.
Seated Cable Row
The seated cable row mimics the motion of a rowing machine, as you pull a handle toward you to move the stack of weights attached via cable. As with the inverted row, this exercise targets your back as the primary muscle group, but also involves muscles in your arm -- the biceps and triceps -- as well as your pectorals, located in your chest. The seated cable row is standard equipment at many gyms, so unless you are traveling and have to rely on hotel fitness facilities, this can be a suitable inverted row alternative for most fitness enthusiasts.
Pullups are similar to the inverted row in that they rely only on your body weight for resistance, although you can wear a weighted belt or vest to increase resistance. The primary muscles strengthened by pullups are the latissimus dorsi, which are located in your mid-back. Pullups also work your biceps and triceps, pectorals and your shoulders.
Barbell Upright Row
The barbell upright row is a simple exercise that can be performed with just a barbell, which is a staple of most gyms. Unlike the bent-over row, there is no leaning to promote excessive hip flexion. To ensure that your back remains straight throughout this exercise, keep your abdominal muscles flexed tightly, as this promotes proper posture.
Double-Kettlebell Bent-Over Row
Kettlebells are prized for their unique shape, which recruits more muscles than dumbbells because using them requires extra stabilization. As with other types of rows, this exercise helps strengthen the muscles of your back, shoulders and biceps. The double-kettlebell bent-over row may be particularly effective at reducing the likelihood of muscular imbalances, as each of your arms has to move the full weight of its own kettlebell, rather than having both of your arms acting on one barbell, which may lead to one arm providing more of the force than the other.