10 Best Inverted Row Alternatives (Substitutes For Mass)

The inverted row is a brilliant upper body exercise that focuses on your lats, traps, rhomboids, and biceps. It’s suitable for all experience levels and is an excellent substitute if you can’t do pull-ups.

Yet, what happens if you don’t have inverted row equipment in your home gym? Or maybe you feel like a change; this is where inverted row alternative exercises come in handy.

This guide shows you 10 of the best-inverted row alternatives and how to do them.

If you find yourself in a position where you can’t perform an inverted row due to lack of equipment or not enough space, you need to find another exercise to replace it with.

Below is a list of the 10 best inverted row alternative exercises you can perform at home.

1. Barbell Bent Over Row 

The barbell bent-over row is a fantastic alternative to inverted row. It’s a classic compound movement that’s been used to develop muscle mass ever since the golden era of bodybuilding. You’ve probably seen pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger performing this movement with several plates per side.

It targets all the same muscle groups the inverted row does, but with the added benefit that you can overload your muscles with heavy weight. As a result, it's one of the best back builders around. While it’s a brilliant movement, some beginners may find it challenging to perform.  

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How to do it: 

  • Set a barbell on the floor with the desired weight.  
  • Stand in front of the barbell and pick it up using an overhand grip placed shoulder-width apart. (Use an underhand grip to emphasize the biceps and lower lats). 
  • Hinge from the hips while maintaining a straight back and bring your body towards the floor.  
  • Draw the elbows back, lift the barbell to your stomach and slowly return to the starting position.  
  • Repeat for several reps and complete your set.
barbell rows

2. Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row is one of the best horizontal rowing movements you can do to develop your lats’ strength. It allows you to place more stress on your back muscles than the inverted row, making it ideal for increasing upper-body mass.

It’s excellent for beginners as it allows you to practice scapular retraction while building up your base strength.

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How to do it: 

  • Set a suitable weight on the seated row cable machine.
  • Set a suitable weight on the seated row cable machine.
  • Grab the handle with an overhand grip.
  • Sit upright, drawing your shoulder blades back and down.
  • Pull the handle towards your chest, squeezing your lats together at the end of the movement.
  • Slowly return to the start (don’t round your shoulders).
  • And repeat.
Wide Grip Seated Cable Rows

3. Pull-Ups 

The pull up is one of the most underrated back exercises you can perform. Not only does it recruit all of the same muscles as the inverted row, but it’s one of the most impressive movements you can perform to show mastery over your body’s weight.  

It’s easily performed in the house or home gym and doesn’t require much room at all. However, it’s a difficult exercise to perform, and even some advanced weight lifters can struggle with this inverted row alternative.

If you’re a beginner, by all means, try the movement, but if it's too tricky, select another inverted row alternative to perform.

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How to do it: 

  • Stand under a pull-up bar or frame. 
  • Place your hands on the bar shoulder-width apart using an overhand grip.  
  • Remove your feet from the floor, so your body hangs from your arms.  
  • Create tension in your shoulder blades, so they’re stable.  
  • Pull your body up to the bar until your upper chest (collar bone region) reaches the bar.  
  • Hold for a second and slowly return to the bottom of the movement.  
  • Repeat and finish your set. 
Pull-Ups

4. Sumo Deadlift High Pull 

If you want to develop your overall power, the sumo deadlift high pull is fantastic. It’s an outstanding inverted row alternative that focuses on most of the muscle groups worked during the inverted row.

It helps improve your power generation; it’s suitable for anyone training for a sport requiring explosiveness.

It’s best suited for intermediate to advanced gym-goers as it’s a complex movement for beginners to learn. This exercise is also a great alternative to upright rows.

How to do it: 

  • Place a barbell on the floor with a suitable weight.  
  • Stand in front of the barbell with your legs in a wide (2x shoulder width) stance. 
  • Bend your knees and hinge your hips backwards slightly.  
  • Hold the bar with both hands using an overhand grip.  
  • Create tension in your body, brace your core and explosively fire your hips forward.  
  • As the barbell reaches hip level, draw the elbows upwards and lift the barbell to below your neck (make sure your elbows are above your shoulders). 
  • Slowly lower the barbell and reset so you’re ready for your next rep. 
Sumo Deadlift High Pull

5. Push Press 

The push press is a full-body compound movement that requires a lot of force generation coming from your glutes, triceps, deltoids, pecs, quads, and lower back. It also heavily engages your core muscles, ensuring your body is kept under control.

This alternative to inverted row doesn’t work your lats as much as the inverted row. It would be good to pair this movement with another inverted row substitute that focuses on the lats, such as the lat pulldown or bent over barbell row.

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How to do it: 

  • Place a barbell across your shoulders with your hands under the bar with your palms facing upwards.  
  • Slightly bend your knees and quickly straighten them in an explosive fashion.  
  • As your knees straighten, use the force generated to help push the barbell straight up above your head.  
  • Push your head through the gap in your arms so the barbell is directly above you.  
  • Reverse the movement until the barbell is back on your shoulders.  
  • Repeat. 
Push Press

6. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row 

This alternative exercise for inverted row is a fantastic back builder that isolates one side of your back at a time. As this movement is iso-lateral, it causes your core to work extra hard to stabilize your body.

It’s also beneficial for ironing out any muscular imbalances you might have developed from performing bilateral movements using a barbell.

The single-arm dumbbell row is an excellent staple for beginners and allows you to develop strength and muscle mass in your upper body.

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How to do it: 

  • Set a bench to a flat position.  
  • Place a dumbbell on the right-hand side of the bench.  
  • Place your left knee on the bench and have your right leg straight and slightly back.  
  • Take your left hand and place it on the bench to support your upper body.  
  • Pick up the dumbbell using your right arm.  
  • Square your shoulders and flatten your back.  
  • Lift the dumbbell towards your stomach, squeezing your lats together.  
  • Slowly straighten your arm and repeat.  
  • Swap sides once you’ve completed your reps.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

7. Dumbbell Upright Row 

This inverted row alternative is fantastic if you want to develop impressive shoulders. During the movement, your traps, front and middle heads of the delts, and biceps work incredibly hard to lift the weight.

You can adjust this exercise to suit your goal, as a wider grip increases the amount of work your deltoids do, and a narrower grip targets your traps more. I love super-setting this exercise with a push press; it exhausts your shoulders and encourages muscle growth.  

As this exercise uses dumbbells, each side has to work equally as hard as the other, so muscular imbalances are a thing of the past. 

How to do it: 

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands with an overhand grip. 
  • Place them in front of your hips with your arms straight.  
  • Draw the shoulder blades back and open the chest. 
  • Lift the dumbbells to your neck height, leading with your elbows. 
  • Slowly return to the start and repeat.
Dumbbell Upright Row

8. Lat Pulldown 

The lats form most of your back muscles, and they’re responsible for the coveted V-shape most guys are after. One of the best ways to hit the lats is to perform the lat pulldown.   

The lat pulldown is a fantastic inverted row substitute that works your back and biceps in a similar way the inverted row does.

The movement is suitable for all levels but is often the go-to back exercise for beginners as it’s one of the more straightforward exercises to perform. It also helps you develop the strength needed for pull-ups.

Related Article - Benefits Of Lat Pulldown

How to do it: 

  • Sit on a lat pulldown machine and adjust the knee pad, so it’s tight against your legs.  
  • Reach up and grab the handle using an overhand grip a little wider than shoulder width.  
  • Create scapula tension by drawing the shoulders back and down.  
  • Pull the handle towards your collar bone and squeeze your lats together.  
  • Slowly straighten your arms and repeat. 
Lat Pulldown

9. Reverse Fly 

This movement is a brilliant inverted row alternative for at home as it barely takes up any room and requires very little equipment.

Unlike the inverted row, which primarily targets the lats and biceps, the reverse fly mainly hits the rear deltoids and rhomboids. It’s perfect if you’re looking to develop shoulder stability, as it works two of the most neglected muscles in the body.  

Also, it's a simple movement for beginners but is helpful for all ability levels.

How to do it: 

  • Pick up a pair of dumbbells and hold them with your palms facing your sides. 
  • Keep a straight back and hinge from your hips.  
  • Let your arms hang out in front and keep a slight bend in your elbows.  
  • Draw the shoulder blades back and create scapula tension.  
  • Raise the dumbbells to the side and squeeze the shoulder blades together.  
  • Hold for 2 seconds and slowly return to the beginning.  
  • Repeat.
Dumbbell Reverse Flys

10. Chest Supported Row 

The chest supported row is one of the best back building exercises around, and it helps you develop thickness in your lats and works them through an extensive range of motion similar to the inverted row.

As a bench supports your upper body, your core doesn’t need to stabilize your body during the movement, and less pressure is placed on your lower back.  

It’s an ideal inverted row substitute for anyone with lower back problems who want to develop a strong upper back.  

How to do it: 

  • Place a flat bench on two elevated platforms or steps (one under each end of the bench).  
  • Put a set of dumbbells under the bench. 
  • Lie face down on the bench.  
  • Pick up the two dumbbells and let your arms hang vertically.  
  • Draw your shoulder blades backwards.  
  • Lift the dumbbells towards the bench and squeeze your lats together.  
  • Reverse the movement and repeat.  
Chest-Supported Incline Dumbbell Row

Benefits Of These Exercises Over Normal Inverted Rows

The inverted row alternatives mentioned above are perfect for developing upper body strength and muscle mass. They work muscle groups such as the lats, traps, biceps, and rhomboids, placing them through a vast range of motion promoting muscle growth.

They’re ideal for beginners to develop the strength needed to perform complex movements like pull-ups.

Not only do these movements help with muscle size and strength, but they help improve your posture by stabilizing the scapula and shoulder joint.

Along with increasing your grip strength and recruiting your core muscles, these alternatives to inverted rows are fantastic to perform in your home or garage gym.  


Frequently Asked Inverted Row Questions

Are inverted rows as good as pull-ups? 

Yes, inverted rows and pull-ups work the same muscles and can be performed by most people, even beginners. Even though pull-ups are great, not everyone can do them.

What muscles do inverted row substitute exercises work?  

The inverted row substitute exercises primarily work your lats, traps, rhomboids, and your biceps. But, your core and posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and spinal muscles) need to work incredibly hard to keep your body straight. 

Are inverted rows as good as barbell rows for building mass? 

While I’m a massive fan of the inverted row, I find the barbell row is best for developing muscle mass. The barbell row allows you to load the bar with far more weight to overload the muscles resulting in muscle growth. Combining both of these exercises is the sweet spot if you ask me.


Conclusion

If you’ve wanted to perform inverted rows but don’t have the space or equipment, then the inverted row alternatives mentioned above are what you’ve been looking for.

Build your upper body strength and muscle mass by adding a couple of these movements into your training program.