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How To Do Renegade Rows With Perfect Form

By Kristin Rooke / May 11, 2018

The renegade row is a fantastic full-body exercise that requires total body tension to master. This exercise will challenge your ab strength, increase your core stability, and build your back and quad strength.

Your main focus during the renegade row is to keep your hips and shoulders completely stable and square as you row the dumbbell up towards your armpit.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn proper renegade row form.

Renegade Row Instructions

1. Start in a high plank position with your hands holding a pair of dumbbells directly under your shoulders.

2. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart, and squeeze your quads, glutes, and abs.

3. While maintaining square hips and shoulders, pull your right dumbbell up towards your armpit and squeeze your shoulder blade back. Don’t let your hips rotate.

4. With control, bring the right dumbbell back to the ground. Reset your strong plank position, and repeat the row on your left arm.

5. If you start to lose your form during your set, take some rest between reps. Then reset your strong plank position and execute each rep with perfect technique.

3 Common Mistakes

The renegade row is a challenging back and core exercise. It doesn’t take much weight to be humbled and strengthened by this exercise.

To get the most benefit out of this exercise, you have to maintain total body tension. Here are a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

1. Rotating Your Hips Side to Side

The renegade row is an anti-rotation exercise as well as a back exercise. Stabilizing your hips during this move will seriously engage your abs. You have to squeeze your glutes, quads, and core to keep your hips square as you pull the dumbbell off the ground.

Rotating your hips away from the ground as you pull the dumbbell up makes this exercise easier, and negates the anti-rotational benefits of the renegade row. If you have trouble keeping your hips square and your feet firmly planted on the ground as you lift the dumbbell up, decrease the weight you’re using and focus on building your core stability.

2. Not Keeping Your Shoulders Square To The Ground

When you’re doing a rowing exercise, it’s tempting to hyper-rotate your shoulders. You might think that this activates your back muscles more, but you’re actually missing out on the primary benefits of a dumbbell row.

Performing a dumbbell row with proper form engages your lats, rhomboids, lower traps, and erector spinae while recruiting your rotator cuff for stabilization. This is what you want.

But, over-rotating during a row primarily comes from your spine and your hips, not your back muscles. Instead, focus on keeping your spine long and your core tight. Keep your shoulders and hips square as you pull your elbow up towards the ceiling.

3. Performing Half Reps

Going heavier in an exercise isn’t always better. Because the renegade row really challenges your core stabilization, many people compensate for a lack of stability by performing half-reps.

To remedy this, decrease your weights and focus on total body tension. Complete every rep with perfect form, taking rest between reps to reset your body when need be.

For a challenging back exercise that will test your true strength, try the renegade row. We’d love to hear about how it goes!


  • Pat Finnegan says:

    Thanks for the article Kristin. Your advice will help me perfect my form and increase the benefits of this exercise.

  • Carl Schinina says:

    Thank you Kristin, very informative article. At Times I have had troubles in
    doing renegade rows correctly or too fast. The details in the article are very clear. will try them when I go to the gym tomorrow. Tks Again.!

  • Travis Vowell says:

    Great instruction and tips for this exercise!

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Thanks, Travis! Good to hear from you and hope all is well.

  • Brandan Searle says:

    I love your articles. Always informative :)
    May I add a PROGRESSION to the renagade row? It is the feet elevated Spiderman Renegade Row. This extends the coverage of active muscles and give perfect balance both in the anterior-pasterior planes, as well as in the frontal plane by virtue of the Spiderman component, and immediately thereafter as one lifts one hand off the ground and tbe contralateral leg off the elevated step/BOSU or ground. 20 reps later, your heart rate will have soared up toward a good 80% of max. With my clients, this is one of our Big Rock exercises as it affects the CORE in such a functional manner.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Hey Brandan, that's certainly a possible variation - and certainly very advanced! Thanks for sharing

  • Mahdi says:

    thank you very much Kristin, i am very happy to share this informative and excellence article