The renegade row is a unique strength exercise that combines stability and mobility of the anterior core muscles in a horizontal pulling movement. This is the main reason due to which we classify this exercise as a core exercise.
A renegade row involves using a pair of dumbbells (flat-bottomed so they don’t roll) or kettlebells and getting in a pushup position with arms straight. This is a difficult exercise to master. Be prepared to fall to one side the first few times you attempt this exercise. Therefore make sure you practice this exercise on a level and soft surface (firm matting that absorbs your fall is best).
Exercise Instructions for Renegade Row
STARTING (INITIAL) POSITION: This exercise begins in a basic plank (full plank or straight arm plank), holding on to a pair of dumbbells (or kettlebells). In other words, simply place your body in a position as in the top position of a push-up, balancing on the balls of your feet and with the spine level. Do not arch or collapse the hips. Make sure that your joints are stacked, with knuckles directly under your shoulders. That is your starting position for this exercise.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Engaging your back, bring one weight into a row position, keeping your plank intact. You should pull the dumbbell up until it touches to your rig cage. Lower and repeat on the other side. Always go back and forth, one side up and down at a time. Your non-working hand remains steady on the other dumbbell, acting as a support for your body.
Renegade Row Key Points
Here are some useful tips & tricks that will help you to perform this core exercise efficiently, correctly, and safely.
- Pay equal attention to the stabilizing (non-dominant) arm and the pulling (dominant) arm.
- Keep the shoulders of both arms connected into the socket via contraction of the latissimus dorsi muscles.
- Pull the dumbbell to the rib cage or abdomen and focus on pulling the elbows up and toward the center of the spine.
- Visualize placing the dumbbell on a glass table every time you return it to the ground. Doing so helps you maintain control throughout the exercise.
- Keep your shoulders over the handles of the dumbbells during the renegade row. If you reach too far out for the dumbbells during the exercise, you’ll fall. Also, keep your wrists solid and locked while performing the exercise. Any break in the wrists will cause you to fall to one side or the other.
These are the most common performance errors, and they usually pass unnoticed. Try to avoid them when performing renegade rows.
- Rotating the torso during the pull. Prevent this by keeping the abdominal muscles firm and hips stable.
- Pulling primarily with the biceps instead of the back muscles. Prevent this by keeping the rib cage expanded. Also, focus on pulling the elbow toward the ribs.
- Letting the hips sag. Prevent this by activating core muscles. This will ensure proper alignment via a straight line from the head to the heels.
- Bending the stabilizing arm. Prevent this by focusing on keeping the stabilizing arm locked all the time.
Renegade rows are great for the core, rear deltoids, latissimus dorsi, hips, and even quads.
- Push-up to renegade row. The most popular variation of this involves a push-up. A triceps push-up to be exact, due to where the kettlebells are placed—under the shoulders—you can’t perform a chest push-up.
- Basic renegade row is a terrific exercise for core strength, stability, and endurance, but it’s too fatiguing and too challenging for many people. If this is your case also you could try something easier. You’ll need a bench and a moderately heavy dumbbell. Get into push-up position, with your hands on the bench and your body in a straight line from neck to ankles. You want your feet set wide for balance—at least shoulder-width apart until you’re familiar with the exercise. Reach down and grab the dumbbell with your non-dominant hand and hold it at arm’s length straight down from your shoulder. Pull the weight straight up to the side of your abdomen without twisting your legs or torso out of alignment. Perform 8-10 reps, then switch to your dominant arm.
- Reverse plank
- Plank with opposite arm and leg lift
- Side plank
- Straight arm plank
- Plank with arm extension
- Forearm plank
Closing thoughts: Why renegade row?
The ability to maintain stability while moving and to create mobility while remaining stable is called dynamic stability, and the renegade row is one of the best exercises for developing that control. This exercise trains the anterior core strength needed to prevent extension of the lumbar spine and to keep the low back stable. Renegade rows combine elements of a front plank, a frontal-plane stability exercise, with horizontal rowing, a sagittal plane (plane that divides the body into right and left parts) mobility exercise.