Renegade Rows – Do You Make These Mistakes? Part II

A reader of this site, Andy, asked me in Part I of the renegade rows series what to do once renegade rows become way too easy. He says he doesn’t feel his abs sore after workout. I will answer this in two parts. First, I wanna make something clear regarding muscle soreness. It is a sign of only one thing – that your body was not ready or adapted for the stress that caused the soreness. Nothing else. So you may continue to workout, especially when training for strength as opposed to muscle size (these are two different goals!), without needing to blast your body so that it’s sore every time.

The second issue is whether you do the renegade rows with proper form to ensure that your core gets maximum stimulation. So in this article I will address the issue of proper form in more detail.

Good Explanation Of Proper Form

This video is very helpful in understanding how to transfer the weight between your arms so that you can row with the free arm. Just watch it and you will see what I mean.

My Buddy Vasko Doing The Exercise PERFECTLY

Vasko is very strong for his size 6’2”, 190 lbs, can deadlift 200kg+. Note that he is an athlete and needs his body weight to stay down, yet his strength needs to be as high as possible to be fast and explosive. This is what the relative strength advantage is all about.

Here Are Examples Of How NOT To Do It

This guy is twisting like mad. Remember, this is an exercise in stabilization. It is NOT a back/rowing exercise.

Renegade Rows are done to teach and enhance core stabilization. Low reps are the only option here. Sets of 10 while good for fatiguing the muscle and building it up, are USELESS here. Maximal contraction is the goal when training for stabilization.

This guy is actually walking around with the exercise. He is not getting the core strength benefits from this exercise.

It is true that he is burning some calories – but again the renegade row is NOT a fat loss or general physical preparedness exercise. It is a drill that makes your abs freaky strong and rock hard. If done correctly!

Babe by Vincent

22 thoughts on “Renegade Rows – Do You Make These Mistakes? Part II”

  1. Yavor, thanks for the shout out and the videos. It is always a good reminder to revisit proper form. Next time I do these, I’m going to be extra strict regarding form.

  2. Ray,

    here are my suggestions:

    1. Try to support yourself on your palms as close to the heel of your palm as possible (as opposed to supporting yourself on the backside of your knuckles which hurts the wrist)

    2. If the pain persists try doing fisted pushups for a while to make your wrists stronger.

    3. If this doesn’t help – ditch the rows



  3. Hi Yavor,

    I can across an article on this website a couple of days ago which was about the benifits of relative strenght and importance of it. The article had a link the the Jones Gym article on the same subject. I can not find this article on your site now? has it been removed?

  4. Chica,

    2-3 minutes are enough. Also – you can alternate between two exercises, for example renegade rows and a pressing (military press, etc) or leg (squats, linges) exercise. This saves time – you can rest from 0 to 60 seconds when alternating exercises (one set of exercise 1, followed by one set of exercise 2, etc..).

  5. I’ve never seen this before… It’s almost like a row and a plank combined. This seems like a really great exercise for an athlete to develop core strength, I imagine it’s pretty hard to stay stable when lifting 40kg like your friend above!


  6. Kieran,

    yes it is pretty hard, but one can achieve core strength pretty fast 🙂

    the important things about this drill are to shift the weight between the two arms and two flex and tense the muscles of the legs and butt.

  7. hey yavor

    thanks for these articles – i love renegade rows. planks had gotten easy and boring, but with enough weight i find these realy challenging. can you recommend a similarly challenging lower back exercise?



  8. Chica,

    the lower back works in accord with all the muscles of the posterior chain (back of the body). So deadlifts work the lower back quite well. Any exercise really that makes you hold the arch position under resistance is good.

    You can try good mornings ==> or the super man exercise ==> for a body weight variation.



    p.s. just remember to always keep the arch in the lower back tight. This also means keep the back tight when picking stuff up at home.

  9. u are doing a great job.i have learnt a lot from u since i visited ur site two days ago.pls are there other workouts that i can do to work the abs using dumb bells? thanks

  10. Hey Yavor
    Great site thanks very much!
    I’m currently doing 5 x 5 of these and they’re great.
    I was just wondering if they’re going to build muscle – you say this is for maximal contraction rather than to fatigue the muscle.
    Obviously I’m still going to keep doing them but what’s another good exercise for actually building up the core – especially the obliques?
    Thanks for your help,

  11. Ok thanks – sorry what do you mean by the “temp at which you build up your strength”?
    Full contact twist looks great but sadly I don’t have access to a barbell…
    Could you do it with a dumbbell between the hands and just twist?
    Also what’s your view on lying “twists”?

  12. Tom,

    1. I mean that real strength, the ability to push heavier weights, is built a bit slower (because tendons need to adapt to the heavy weights and tendons adapt slowly). Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, more related to increase in muscle size, is built faster, but is not related to significant increase in strength. So you look bigger and stronger, but are actually only slightly stronger.

    2. The FCT cannot be done with dumbbell unfortunately. The lying twist seems too east and too subjective. I’d suggest doing “side planks” – those are good until you get to 2 minute holds…

  13. Yavor,
    Ok thanks that’s helpful!
    So you say side planks are good for the obliques until I’m doing sets of 2 minutes?
    Would you say 3 x 60s on each side is a good way to start and then could i hold a dumbbell plate to my side to make it harder?
    Sorry to keep peppering you with these questions but your help’s really appreciated!

  14. Tom,

    no problem. Yeah after 2 minutes it’s just too long and you need a new challenge. I’d suggest doing them 3-5x per week for 1-2 sets of max time. Add 5 sec each workout. Every time it’s gonna be hard but you’ll manage to beat your previous time.

    If it’s too easy, lift up your leg.

  15. hi yavor,

    Was just looking at this site, one of the ones you reccommended and noticed that under the side plank section he said that they are not going to make the obliques bigger; he may have been talking about women as obviously they have lower testosterone levels so won’t put on muscle as easily but I was just wondering if this is true for a man.
    Also, what do you think of oblique 45s?

  16. Tom don’t worry, side planks are safe. Btw – I know Craig, he’s the real deal (and he’s got akiller physique.)

    Don’t know what oblique 45’s are.

    The only way to get ugly obliques is to do weighted side bends with a dumbbell – so don’t do it 🙂

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