Building upper back strength and doing rowing exercises can be a challenge especially if you don’t have right equipment. Fortunately, due to the versatility of the suspension trainer, you can easily do rowing exercises such as a suspension row that suits all levels with one piece of equipment.

The suspension row is also one of those exercises that everyone can do even if you have a client with bad shoulders, the rowing motion is very natural. This motion can strengthen the stabilizer muscles in the shoulders and even go as far as to help improve posture. Over time too much sitting and rounding the shoulders can wreak havoc on your posture and low back so anytime you row your retractor muscles are used and can help “reset” your body to how it should be. When done properly the entire posterior chain is forced to work.

Muscles Emphasis

Full body engagement is needed to do this exercise correctly primarily working lats, rear delta, forearms, biceps, glutes, calves

Suspension Row Starting Position

Start with your arms straight and walk yourself down into position. Place your heels down and toes up on the floor, pull your body up by pulling your elbows down. Stop as soon as your chest


Pull your body up toward the handles. Be sure to keep the straight line in your torso. Pull up until your chest meets the bottom of your wrist, hold for 2 seconds at the top and control the lowering portion for 3 seconds.


[sc name=”anatomy” ]


Avoid These Suspension Row Mistakes

  • Rowing too high which causes your knuckles to curl leading to joint issues in wrist, elbows, and shoulders
  • Leading with your hips
  • Sagging the hips at the bottom of movement
  • Tucking your chin down
  • Flaring your elbows when pulling
  • Allowing shoulders to elevate

Lets Row!

The suspension row allows you to get rowing anywhere and can be suited for all strength levels. Regardless if you are trying to build muscle or simply improve posture the suspension row can improve both. The suspension trainer is the most versatile piece of exercise equipment making exercises like rows accessible without the need for a gym. If you are not rowing, start rowing because this exercise should be a staple in everyones workout program.

Ian Nimblett

Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.