The Renegade Row is a unique exercise. First off, it uses a standard, highly productive format,..the rowing motion. Second, it requires huge amounts of body tension. This activates irradiation, and also has us develop the skill of dealing with body tension in a dynamic format,(side to side shifting). Third, and certainly not last, it forces wrist stability through bracing and holding the kettlebell handle.

This exercise can be done with dumbells as well. With this more stable format, the Gladiator position, or alternate side snatches while prone are acceptable variations.

The flaws consistant with the training skill are the limited range of motion, and the body’s failure to sustain tension will proceed the pulling muscles strength. In simple terms,..you will fail to hold the pushup position long before you exhaust your lats and rear delts.

The solution is the use of simple tools and techniques. One variation is to replace one kettlebell with a RubberMaid step stool. These cheap training aids will hold 300lbs according to the manufacturer’s label. You can now use the same Renegade Rowing motion now, except all the reps will be done on one side, and the platform will be a more stable one. You lose the wrist strength component, but you add the ability to drive the lats, delts, and arms to a deeper state of activation.

There is still a problem here. If you do the RR for total body strength, it is not apparent, but if you do it to strengthen your lats, then it stands out like a sore thumb. Your arms will weaken and become depleted long before your lats. The corrective measure is to use the RubberMaid step stool again. This time pad it with a thick folded towel and do pullovers on it. Don’t do those short range Gold’s Gym style ones either. Use the kettlebell standard of moving from pubic bone to fully stretched overhead, with elbows locked. You will preceed your Renegade Rows with a Kettlebell Pullover to reduce the strength level of the lats and abdominals. Your hip flexors, quads, and forearm flexors will be fresh. Now you can jump into your RR’s with a new appreciation of how the body works as a unit.

The last morph of the Renegade Row is to increase the range of motion. This can be done by using higher platforms for the non-activated arm and the feet. Two sturdy chairs or weight benches can be arranged to elevate the body and actually have the working arm hang free. This will elevate body tension and add new challenges to the Renegade Row. If this elevated, free hanging, one sided row is preceded by a solid set or two of KB pullovers,…well,…the fun begins.

–Tom Furman