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What Body-Weight Exercise Offsets Push-Ups?

author image Jody Braverman
Jody Braverman is a professional writer and editor based in Atlanta. She studied creative writing at the American University of Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland. She also received personal trainer certification from NASM and her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from YogaWorks.
What Body-Weight Exercise Offsets Push-Ups?
Do push-ups for your chest and inverted rows for your back. Photo Credit: SolisImages/iStock/Getty Images

Push-ups are an incredibly effective and efficient exercise for toning your chest, arms, shoulders and core muscles, including your abs obliques and lower back. However, they do little to work the muscles of your upper and middle back.

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If you only do push-ups and don't do an exercise to offset them, you could end up with strength imbalances in your upper body, leading to overactive chest muscles and underactive back muscles. To offset push-ups and gain balanced upper body strength, do inverted rows.

Push vs. Pull Exercises

As it's name implies, a push-up is a "push" exercise — you are pushing your body away from the ground using the strength of your chest and arms — primarily the triceps on the backs of your upper arms — and the stabilizer muscles in your core, with some help from your quadriceps in your thighs.

The exact opposite of this would be a "pull" exercise, where you are pulling your body away from the ground using the strength of your arms — primarily your biceps — and your back. Your core stabilizers, hamstrings and glutes are also at work.

Read more: Push & Pull Workouts

Using a suspension system is an easy way to do inverted rows.
Using a suspension system is an easy way to do inverted rows. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/smartbobert

Proper Form for an Inverted Row

Using an empty barbell in a squat rack is the best way to do inverted rows. However, you can also do them at home using a sturdy table or desk.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your chest directly underneath the barbell or table edge. Reach up and grasp the bar or table with an overhanded grip with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width.

Contract all the muscles in your legs and core. Begin to pull your chest up toward the bar or table edge, keeping your body in plank position — one stiff, straight line from your shoulders to your heels.

Do not let your hips sag. As you pull yourself up, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Come up as far as you can, then slowly lower yourself back down to the floor.


Performing even one inverted row with proper form can be quite challenging. If you're struggling, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. You can also raise the barbell so your body is not as horizontal. The more horizontal you are during the exercise, the harder it is.

Inverted Rows in Your Workout

If you do a total-body workout routine including a few sets of push-ups, work in a few sets of inverted rows. If you do a body part workout split, do inverted rows on back day. If you do a push/pull split, do inverted rows on the same day you do exercises like biceps curls and lat pulldowns, both of which are also pulling exercises.

Read more: The 20 Best Body-Weight Exercises

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