Renegade rows are perfect for building a strong core and back in one exercise, all that's needed is a pair of dumbbells.

Doing a renegade row with good form requires strength and balance. It is a demanding exercise and in my experience, not everyone can do this exercise well. 

That's why I've put this list together to introduce you to some of the most effective renegade row alternatives with similar benefits. Let'd dive in!

Renegade rows involve holding a high plank position and rowing a dumbbell up towards you, one arm at a time.

These can be difficult if you're a beginner with weaker back muscles, a weak core or if you have an injury that limits you. You must be able to maintain balance whilst doing a single arm dumbbell row. 

If you can't complete a renegade row, then these alternatives mimic the movement and engage almost all the same muscle groups

Here are 10 of the best renegade row alternatives to try:

1. One Arm Dumbbell Snatches 

One Arm Dumbbell Snatches

Snatches are a common movement in weightlifting that helps you build explosive power.

The one-arm dumbbell snatch really works your whole body, in particular your back and shoulders and engages your core muscles to control the movement. In doing so, this exercise gives you all the benefits of a renegade row. 

This renegade row modification is suitable for beginners, but start with a light weight at first to perform with good technique.


  • Teaches explosive power.
  • Works the whole body and teaches coordination.
  • Build lean muscle mass and improves metabolic conditioning in one movement. 

How To Do It:

  1. Start by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in one hand using an overhand grip. 
  2. Squat down to the floor, and then in one explosive movement, raise back up and pull the dumbbell up to the ceiling.
  3. As the dumbbell reaches the highest point, fully extend your arm to stabilize it, and hold for a few seconds.
  4. Next, lower your arm back down and return to the starting position. 
  5. Aim for 8-10 reps, and make sure you alternate arms to work both sides of your body.

Tips From A Trainer!

The one arm dumbbell snatch can be challenging for beginners. I recommend using your own bodyweight to complete the first few sets, so you can fine-tune the movement before adding dumbbell weight. 

2. Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows 

Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

You’ll need some kind of weight for this alternative renegade row, but you can substitute the dumbbell for a kettlebell, resistance band, or cable machine if they’re available.

This movement comes closest to the renegade row but is easier to perform and requires less core strength and balance, making it perfect for beginners.  


  • Great for upper back strength and improving posture.
  • Carries over to every day movement and protects your back from injury.
  • Helps pull your shoulders back if you tend to round forwards.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. 
  2. Bend forward at the hips until your torso is parallel with the floor, and allow your hands to hang down in front of you.
  3. Focusing the effort on your back, bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells up towards you in a rowing motion.
  4. Keep your back straight throughout the movement, pause and squeeze your shoulder blades, and then slowly lower your arms back down to starting position to complete the rep.  

Tips From A Trainer!

If you struggle to keep your balance in the hip-hinge position, you can use a weight bench to support yourself. You can also do these one at a time for a more isolateral exercise. 

3. Half-Turkish Get Up 

The half-Turkish get up is a full-body movement that will strengthen your core, build strong back muscles, and arms.[1]

It's not as focused as a renegade row, but it will improve your overall strength and flexibility, making it a great renegade row substitute. 


  • Helps strengthen each side of the body, creating more balance.
  • Promotes shoulder stability.
  • Easier for beginners to master.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by lying with your back on the ground and a dumbbell in your hand gripped tightly.
  2. Raise your arm, so it's fully outstretched with the dumbbell above you. 
  3. Next, bend your knee and push your upper body upwards with your other arm. From there, sit upwards and raise yourself onto one knee.
  4. Pause for a second and then return back to starting position. You should keep your arm extended with the dumbbell above you throughout the movement, watching it throughout the exercise.

Tips From A Trainer!

This is one of the best full-body exercises on my list. It engages the whole body and adds an element of cardio to your workout. This exercise is also an excellent alternative to burpees. 

4. Bicycle Crunches 

Bicycle Crunches

A bicycle crunch is a useful alternative renegade row exercise that requires no equipment, though you may benefit from a cushioned yoga mat to lie down on.

This exercise is as much about stability and balance as it is about gaining strength, and it should be easier for beginners than renegade rows.


  • Strengthens the hip muscles. 
  • Easy to do anywhere.
  • Builds balances and coordination.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees raised up at 90 degrees. 
  2. Your hands should be touching the side of your head as if you’re about to perform a crunch.
  3. Raise your shoulders a few inches from the mat and rotate your upper body slightly to the side until your elbow meets the opposite knee and the other leg extends fully.
  4. Raise your leg slowly back up to starting position and rotate your head and torso back to where they started just off the mat.
  5. Repeat the motion, but this time rotate to the other side of your body and extend the other leg.  

Tips From A Trainer!

The more you rotate your elbows towards your knees, the more you'll hit your obliques.  

5. Pull Ups (Weighted or Unweighted) 

Regular Pull-Ups

Pull ups are difficult for beginners but are incredibly good for your body and should be part of everyone's workout routine.

They are a compound exercise, meaning they work many major muscle groups, particularly the upper body and they don’t put any strain on your legs.

This means you can get all the benefits of a renegade row even if you’re suffering from a lower-body injury.


  • Very effective exercise in building full body strength. 
  • Improves fitness level.
  • Improves grip and forearm strength. 

How To Do It:

  1. Start by hanging on the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from you. 
  2. Then, pull your body up slowly, focusing on engaging your back muscles as you move.
  3. Keep going until your shoulders reach the bar, and then pause for a few seconds before lowering yourself back down.
  4. You can perform this exercise using your body weight, or you can attach some weights to your belt to really challenge yourself.

Tips From A Trainer!

Pull ups are a staple exercise in the lifting community. If you can't do a full rep yet, don't worry! There are plenty of variations you can do. You can add a resistance band to help lift you towards the top of the bar or complete eccentric reps to build up your back muscles and pulling strength.

6. Dumbbell Pullovers 

Dumbbell Pullovers

A dumbbell pullover really focuses the effort on your core and back, which can lead to solid gains in these areas.

Your shoulders and arms are used to stabilize your body, but there's no reliance on your lower body, so it's a perfect alternative renegade row for those who might be carrying a leg injury.   


  • Builds big lats.
  • Creates more stability in the shoulders.
  • Targets your lower core muscles.

how To Do It:

  1. For this exercise, you'll need a dumbbell in each hand and a bench. 
  2. Start by lying down on the bench and raise your arms above you, holding the dumbbells until they are almost outstretched.
  3. In a controlled motion, move your arms back so that the weight drifts over your head. 
  4. Pause for a second and then return back to starting position.
  5. This should work your lats mostly, so if you are feeling it in your chest and arms, it might mean your form is off. Keep the weight low until you've mastered the movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

I like supersetting this exercise with other movements. Give it a try! You should feel an excellent stretch in your serratus muscles. 

7. Hollow Hold Dumbbell Press 

Hollow Hold Dumbbell Press

Hollow hold dumbbell presses give you all the benefits of a renegade row without any strain on your lower body.

The angle of your body engages your core muscles, and the weight of the dumbbells trains your back. You’ll also feel benefits in your arms and shoulders if you perform this correctly.  


  • Helps develop strong and stable shoulder muscles by working the rotator cuff muscles. 
  • Trains upper body and core in one exercise.
  • Great renegade row substitute for those who need to build more strength. 

How To Do It:

  1. Start by lying on your back with a dumbbell in each hand. 
  2. Keep your legs together and straight, and raise them in the air at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Next, lift your shoulders slightly off the ground, and press your arms up, lifting the dumbbells until your arms are almost fully extended.
  4. Pause for a second, and then lower the weights back to starting position to complete the movement.  
  5. You should feel this primarily in your back rather than your chest, so if you aren't, then you may need to check your form or ask a friend to check your positioning throughout the movement.  

Tips From A Trainer!

Start slow with this movement. Holding your legs at a 45-degree angle can be difficult, but the static nature of this exercise yields fantastic results. 

Suggested Equipment - Best Cheap Adjustable Dumbbells

8. Landmine Single Arm Row 

Landmine Single Arm Row

The landmine single arm row helps you grow your back aggressively, but the stance allows you to stay in complete control throughout the movement and limit any issues for those with injuries.

You'll need a barbell and weights to perform the exercise, so it's probably easier to do in the gym.  


  • Great for developing strong back muscles.
  • You can load this exercise up more than a dumbbell. 
  • Required core engagement therefore trains core stability. 

how To Do It:

1. Start by standing over a barbell with both feet on one side of the bar.

2. Bend your body at the hips so you’re at 90 degrees, and slightly bend your knees to reach down and grip the bar with one hand.

3. Hold the bar near the end and pull it up towards yourself.

4. Engage your back and core throughout the movement, pause at the top, and lower it back down to starting position to complete the movement.

5. Remember to switch arms and perform an equal number of sets on both sides.  

Tips From A Trainer!

I have really grown to love the grip position for this exercise. The different grip position allows you to engage your forearms and it's always good to change it up. 

9. Plank Shoulder Taps 

Plank Shoulder Taps

Plank shoulder taps have a very similar movement to renegade rows, but with less resistance, so they are useful for beginners who don’t yet have the strength for the full exercise.

They predominantly work your core, and you won’t feel as much benefit in your back muscles, but it will really help you improve your stability.  


  • Holding any plank position is going to help protect you from back injury though developing seriously strong core muscles. 
  • Helps improve posture. 
  • Develops good balance. 

How To Do It:

  1. Start in the plank position on the floor with your weight spread evenly. 
  2. Shift your weight slightly to one side and raise one hand up off the floor to tap the opposite shoulder.
  3. Lower it back down to the floor, and then repeat the movement on the other side.
  4. This exercise needs concentration and control but shouldn't take you long to master.

Tips From A Trainer!

This exercise is simple, but it allows you to work on your stability which will transfer to bigger lifts such as squats, barbell rows, and deadlifts. 

10. Seated Cable Rows 

Wide Grip Seated Cable Rows

Cable machines are really useful for working all your major muscle groups, but you're unlikely to have one at home, so this exercise is probably only for in the gym.

This alternative doesn't engage your core as much as a renegade row, but it's great for building a broad and strong back.

You can adjust the weight on the machine, too, and increase the resistance as you build up your strength 


  • Perfect for those with lower back injuries who cannot load weight into a hinge position.
  • More time under tension, perfect for hypertrophy.
  • Promotes good posture, especially for those who work on a computer all day.

how To Do It:

  1. To perform this exercise, start by sitting facing the machine with your feet on the pedals.
  2. Reach forward to grab the handles of the cable machine and pull towards your chest.
  3. Pause and squeeze your shoulder blades, and then lower in a controlled way back to starting position. 
  4. Make sure you keep your back straight throughout the movement and don't go too heavy until you're used to the exercise.
  5. Aim for 8-10 reps at a time, and if you can do more than 12, you should up the weight on the machine.

Tips From A Trainer!

This is one of my all-time favorite back exercises, you can't go wrong. If you want to grow your back, this is a fantastic staple exercise. You can add lat pulldowns and pull ups to send your back into overdrive hypertrophy. 

Muscles Worked With Renegade Row Substitutes

Renegade rows are popular because they work your back and your core muscles. This doesn’t just improve those areas; it also adds a lot of strength and versatility to your body which enables you to take on other exercises. It also helps you to build a functional physique which is beneficial to athletes. 

Renegade row alternatives target the same areas, but some of the exercises also activate a wider range of muscle groups. This allows you to really push yourself and get more muscle gains.

For best results, it's a good idea to mix up the renegade row alternativesso you’re challenging your body and getting the benefit across your whole upper body. 

These are the major muscle groups worked with renegade row substitutes: 

  • Rectus Abdominis  
  • Transverse Abdominis 
  • External and Internal Obliques 
  • Latissimus Dorsi  
  • Middle Trapezius and Rhomboids 
  • Deltoids  
  • Biceps  
  • Pectoralis Major 
  • Triceps 

Benefits Of Alternative Exercises Over Renegade Rows

To perform a renegade row, you start in the plank position with a dumbbell in each hand and alternate, pulling each dumbbell up towards you in a rowing motion.[2

The movement relies on the strength of your back and your stability to do it well, which can make it difficult for beginners and unsuitable for anyone who can’t put weight on their lower body.

The renegade row alternative exercises allow you to target similar muscle groups without needing as much strength.

Most of the moves are compound too, so they work multiple areas of your body at once so you can get more from your workout. This helps you to build a stronger body with greater muscle mass, and it helps you to become more functional so you can more easily take on other exercises.  

Most of the renegade row substitutes on the list need very little equipment, so they can be performed at home or in the gym.

By incorporating a few different movements, you can mix up your routine, and by shocking and challenging your body, you'll see greater muscle growth.  

Common Renegade Row Questions Answered

How do you make Renegade rows easier? 

Renegade rows are much easier if you start on a flat, stable surface and row backwards, not upwards. You can also lower the weight to a more manageable level if you’re struggling.

How much weight should I use for a renegade row? 

As a general rule, beginners should use about 10% of their body weight for a renegade row, intermediates 20%, and advanced users 30%. This is a good starting point, but you should listen to your body and adapt as you go.

What is the best renegade row alternative exercise for beginners? 

Some of the renegade row exercises, like pullups, are really challenging for beginners, and you'll probably struggle to complete one. The dumbbell bent-over rows are a good exercise for those starting out and should be possible for anyone to perform as long as they choose a light weight.  


A renegade row is an effective exercise, that requires strength and balance so it won’t be suitable for everyone.

These alternatives allow you to target the same areas, your back and core, and let you choose a movement that suits you

Hopefully you’ve found a few exercises here that you're able to try out at home or in the gym.




Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website