Fitness tip - Renegade row

Fitness tip - Renegade row

by Evigan Xiao 06 Jan 2020

Rowing with dumbbells seems to get much more love compared to barbells, especially with regular gym-goers. Indeed, the regular straight barbell row requires some technical proficiency in order for the movement to be performed safely and efficiently, whereas the dumbbell variation is much more straightforward. Yet, there are more than a few different variations of this gym staple, with the most unique of which being known as the Renegade row.


The simplest way to describe the Renegade row is as a unilateral rowing movement performed in the high plank position with dumbbell. Setting up involves assuming a plank position where you’re braced with fully extended arms grasping dumbbells, instead of being on your forearms.


You will want to keep your entire midline neutral (it will look like your glutes are raised ever-so slightly) in order to avoid accumulating tension in the lower back. From here, simply initiate the row by pulling your elbow back while keeping in line with your ribs. Be mindful of your range of motion so that you don’t over-pull; row to the point of tension before lowering the dumbbell back to the ground.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


Renegade rows are a good tool for reinforcing proper spinal positioning and body mechanics, both are which are essential when you consider the technical demands of barbell rowing. Inexperienced lifters sometimes go overboard when it comes the loading the bent-over row, leading to excessive use of momentum and a loss of movement integrity. A rounded lower back in this situation can and will often result in injury.


As the Renegade makes use of the plank position, it’s also a good way to train the core musculature in a way that’s more demanding than regular planks. The movement generated by the repetitive rowing forces the deep fibres of the abdominals to fire in order to maintain stability. For a greater challenge, you can consider alternating your left and right arms on every repetition.


While it may be tempting to pump out as many repetitions as possible with the Renegade row, be sure to focus on mastering the movement first. Slinging the dumbbell at the speed of light not only makes things unnecessarily unstable, it also increases the tendency to pull with your arms instead of the back, rendering the exercise useless. Don’t go too heavy with the weight either – keep the dumbbells light enough to allow you to feel your lats working but heavy enough to present a challenge.