For decades the bent-over barbell row, has been the mass-building back exercise, because it allows you to overload the lats with the most weight.
The inverted row mimics the barbell bent-over row. With the inverted row, the bar is stationary while the body moves. It should be just as effective as the barbell row.
Researchers compared the muscle activity of the lats during both types of rows. Lat muscle activity during the inverted row was about 60% greater than during the barbell row, which means it stimulated more muscle fibers to grow bigger. The scientists also reported that the inverted row didn’t stress the lower back as much as the barbell bent-over row. This is great news for those with lower-back issues.
VERDICT: INVERTED ROW
Since the inverted row activates more lat muscle fibers while also reducing stress on the lower back, it’s the better option.
Although inverted rows may stimulate more muscle fibers than barbell bent-over rows, your best option is to incorporate both movements into your back training. However, if you cannot perform the barbell row due to lower-back problems, the inverted row is your go-to exercise. To perform inverted rows, lower the bar on a Smith machine to just higher than arm’s length from the floor. Get under the bar and hold onto it with an overhand grip. Hanging with your body straight and your heels on the floor, pull your chest to the bar and then slowly lower back to the start position. You can also create this same setup in a power rack. If your bodyweight is not heavy enough to keep you in the 6- to 12-rep range, wear a weight vest or use a weight plate on your chest. – FLEX