The Best Body Row Progressions for Total Back Development

Mike Fitch Global Bodyweight Training

The Body Row with Raised Legs

Body rows are great bodyweight exercises for developing your back muscles. And you’d be surprised at how many variations you can do, making them progressively more difficult by allowing you to take a higher percentage of your weight or by changing the leverage. In this week’s video I’ll take you through four progressions, so that you can ultimately achieve the impressive L-Position Body Row!

Even though we’ve got a brand new gym to shoot our GBT videos in, I’ve decided to take this one outside to the park. As you know, it’s our goal to show unique and different ways to duplicate exercises that would normally be done with weights, and I can say with utmost confidence that you’re going to want to put down the dumbbells to give this one a shot.

Mike Fitch Global Bodyweight Training

The Front Lever Tuck Body Row


In the GBT System, we use all kinds of “pulling” exercises, either in the form of hang patterns like chin ups/pull ups and muscle ups, or in horizontal pulls like body rows. As with all bodyweight exercises, in order to make the exercise harder, we have to modify it so we can take more of our own bodyweight. This can be done if you progress the movement properly. Make sure you master each variation before moving on to the next level!

All you need is a set of parallel bars which you can find at most parks. If you want to try these variations in the gym, a regular dip station should work just fine – just try to ignore the jealous glares from the regular gym members who wish they were doing your cool new exercises!

Check out the video below – and as always, we’d love to see your pics and videos of your own attempts at this posted on our GBT Facebook page!


About Mike Fitch

20 Responses to “The Best Body Row Progressions for Total Back Development”

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  1. This progression is really tough and kind of scary we I do it from higher monkey bars but like all the GBT stuff totally empowering once I my body and mind start to figure it out. So far I’m getting better with the tucked versions. Want to get to at least sets of 8 before I move in the L position ones. Nice work Mike…

  2. luigi says:

    I have a question, I hope you can answer it. Can this also be done with parallettes (reinfored PVC 1.5″) at home? can it be adapted? I do jiu jitsu and I am strengthening a bad back and boy does it do wonders!. I live in Lima, Peru (yes as in the country) do lemme know and any suggestions, tips and wat not would be awesome

    Be well ,

    Luigi

    • Mike Fitch says:

      Hey Luigi, i use PVC parallettes all of the time in my training. Unfortunately unless you have some really high super reinforced parallettes, it’s going to be tough to replicate this movement. You may need to get creative and start looking around for two sturdy objects that are around shoulder width and at least a couple feet off of the ground. Look for even tree branches, steel beams that are uncovered, or wood planks that jet out of something sturdy. Just make sure the objects are safe before trying the exercises on them. Good luck my friend

      • Luigi says:

        Thanks for your reply. I am; also considering gettign TRX.. is there a complete tutorial for it , do you know?

        Also if you know anywhere online I could get tutorial or help via online how to eventually do the following

        Full planche
        L-sit
        iron cross (yes I know very very advanced)

        let me know where you could direct me. I speak fluently English , Spanish and Italian.

        Any help you need on translations , feel free to ask..

        Luigi

  3. Inspiring to watch. Will work up to having a go. Appreciate what you are doing Mike

  4. roj says:

    Great move again, Mike, Thanks.
    I have been doing the first 2 moves,
    but the latter ones seem very challenging to try.
    May be it’s a good time to set up the bar now.

    • Mike Fitch says:

      Hey Roj, I think you may surprise yourself when you try the third progression. It honestly looks harder than it really is. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

  5. Malcolm says:

    Nice one Mike! I know this as Inverted rows the progressions, look great! will give them a try.

  6. Patrick Kojima says:

    Hi Mike! I have been following your moves for sometime now, and it has helped me out tremendously!

    I incorporated the inverted rows with another workout. What I have been doing is the 3rd position inverted row 7-10x then immediatly shifting to a flat board shape excercise still hanging upside down. You bring the knees to your chest while exploding your legs straight (making a flat board shape with your body) back and forth till your arms give up.

    This really targets your upper body. Check it out!

    Thanks again for everything man.

    • Mike Fitch says:

      Thanks Patrick, sounds like a great idea. If I’m not mistaken, it sounds like you are shooting out into a front lever which is an incredible exercise for the lats, triceps and the abdominal wall. Very creative to mix the two. Keep up the good work my friend!!!!

  7. Jorma says:

    Body weight rows are hands down one of my favorite exercises. I picked up a pair of rings as an easy way to keep up with this type of movement and now use them for body weight strength training in sagittal, coronal and transverse planes and my back and shoulder strength is through the roof.

    I’m really excited to try out some of these progression.

    • Mike Fitch says:

      Hey Jorma, I couldn’t agree more. Body rows, paired with chin/pull ups are essential for back development and are staple exercises of the GBT System. Using rings opens up all sorts of potential for exercise variations as well as creating solid stabilization. Feel free to send us some pics or video of your favorite exercises. Thanks

      • Jorma says:

        Hey Mike,

        The last time I was traveling between here (Tampa) and LA I was thinking about moves to try out on my rings. I haven’t gotten to that yet but this might be a good motivation. I could try some things out and then send in a couple of photos and descriptions of those that I found the most effective. Where would I send those to?

  8. nunh says:

    Great progressions!

  9. Franisco says:

    Nice work I am going to try this :)

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