All You Need to Know about the Renegade Row

Exercise Breakdown: Renegade Row

How To Do A Renegade Row

About the Renegade Row

So, you’ve done your fair share of exercising in the gym, and you’ve pretty much decided that you’re done doing regular rows. As a matter of fact, it’s not just regular rows. You’ve done so many arm rows, inverted row, upright row, cable row, and bent-over row that none of these exercises quite hit the spot, and you’re body is aching for a new challenge.

Well, Mr. I’ve-done-it-all, meet the renegade row, a classic but often underutilized workout. Combining the best upper body workouts, that is, dumbbell rows and squats, the renegade row is an exercise that will meet your willingness to turn your back on the norm.

As a compound exercise, this tough workout not only strengthens almost all of the parts of your upper body, but also absolutely annihilates your core’s entire musculature. And so, it improves overall performance, triggers muscle growth, and attacks your core if it’s weak. In the world of working out, that trifecta is very hard to beat.

So how do you do it?

How to Do the Renegade Row

Quality will always win over quantity, and that holds true even for the renegade row. And so, fewer renegade rows done properly is better than more renegade rows done incorrectly. But that’s only because it’s surprisingly hard to do. Done properly however, it will be very rewarding.

  1. Take a pair of dumbbells and assume a push-up position, holding the dumbbells below in a locked position.

  2. Keep your body straight, and your hips level.

  3. To aid with the prevention of rotation, spread your legs wider than your shoulders. As you progress with the exercise however, you can start putting your legs closer.

  4. Perform a push-up.

  5. Right after, row one dumbbell towards your hip, all while pushing the other to the ground.

  6. Do it slow and concisely, avoiding any rotation.

  7. Return the dumbbell on the floor, and repeat with the other arm. That’s one rep, and do it as many as you like.

Additional Tips to Keep in Mind While Performing a Renegade Row

The renegade row is one of the few all-in-one exercises that demand the most precise balance of strength between the anterior and posterior sides of the body, meaning that you should practice this all the time, and be able to do the workout with half your bodyweight. If you can’t do it, then it can only be one of two reasons. Either your core is weak and still needs a lot of work done into it, or you’re using momentum to cheat your way through previous exercises. Hence, due to the renegade row’s stricter form, you then find it hard to cheat your way like you usually do.

Keeping your body in a straight line is also important. This means that you need to practice perfect posture, which translates to chest out, shoulders back, stomach in, hips tall, and using the balls on your feet to stay tall.

As a general rule of thumb, always keep body rotation (especially during the concentric lifting phase) to a minimum, although some upper back rotation is permitted when lifting heavier loads. Keep this rotation at the upper back.

It’s tough, but not impossible, and most of all, it’s also very rewarding.

Muscles That Are Activated While Performing a Renegade Row

  • Rectus abdominus

  • Triceps

  • Forearms

  • Rhomboids

  • Obliques

  • Serratus Anterior

  • Latissimus dorsi

  • Anterior deltoids

Renegade Row Benefits

Core Stability

Because it requires a lot of body awareness and control to keep from losing your balance, renegade rows act as core workouts too, even if they’re primarily for the upper body and back.

Unilateral Balance and Strength

By nature, due to one arm moving while the other works to support it, renegade rows are unilaterally challenging. This helps increase muscle activation, awareness, and hypertrophy, all of which are perfect for beginner to intermediate lifters.

Targets Both Appearance and Function

Same as plank variations, renegade rows also help improve and strengthen your core stability while also working just enough to sculpt your abdominal muscles and make a six-pack.


There are few exercises that do anti-rotation and anti-extension side-by-side, and the renegade row is one the best exercises to have this. Critical for maximum spinal health, injury prevention and daily functional tasks, the anti-rotation nature of renegade rows can help improve function and lessen the risk of low back pain.

Improve Your Upper Body Strength

Think about this, doing the renegade row requires you to use an arm to row taxes on your upper back, biceps, lats, rear delts, grip, and forearm, all while your other arm is focusing on supporting your body and keeping it stable. When done continuously, this level of fatigue will result to increased muscle growth and body strength.

Address Core Symmetry

Although there are better exercises that can better sculpt the core (like planks and leg raises), most of them are bilateral, meaning one side can ultimately dominate the movement. This results in one side being stronger than the other. Renegade rows are unilateral, meaning each side is given a focus, resulting in symmetrical strength.

Needs Little Equipment

One of the best benefits of renegade rows is how they require almost no equipment. Just get yourself a couple of dumbbells and you’re ready to work your entire core, upper body, and hips.

Enhances Breathing Patterns

Renegade rows represent peak proper breathing patterns due to the fact that you have to maintain and control it all throughout the exercise.


So there you go, the hows and whys of the renegade exercise. Almost always underutilized or done improperly, the renegade row is a simple but tough exercise that require your full focus and attention. But don’t just take our word for it. Grab a pair of small weights yourself and start doing them today! You, and your upper body, will thank us later.

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