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typewriter press up

Press Up Row: Exercise Video & Variations 

PRESS UP ROW BANNER IMAGE

Want to know how to do a press up row? You’re in the right place!

This exercise combines all of the benefits of a regular push up with the renegade row to create one advanced upper body exercise.

Below is a full guide explaining how to do this exercise, complete with video tutorials, advice on common mistakes to avoid, and we have discussed the benefits of press up rows, too.

Before we get stuck in, why not take the first steps towards an exciting new career by enquiring about our Level 3 personal training qualificationAlternatively, download the full OriGym course prospectus now. 

Also, feel free to download our FREE 16 Week Home Strength Training Programme before jumping in.

How To Do A Press Up Row

Set Up: To do a push up row, you will need two dumbbells, an exercise mat, and enough space to get into a plank position.

Starting Position:

Push up w dumbbell row starting position

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and get onto the floor in a plank position.
  • Still holding a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms out in front of you so that your hands are directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Straighten your legs out behind you and place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Squeeze your glutes, brace your core, and make sure that your body is straight from your head down to your heels.

Execution:

Dumbbell push-up with a row and press image

  • Begin the press up part of the movement by bending at your elbows.
  • Lower yourself until your chest is just above the floor and pause briefly.
  • Drive your hands into the ground and extend your arms to push yourself back up.
  • Start the push up part of the movement by bending at your elbows to lower your body to the floor.
  • Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement and push yourself back up so that you return to the starting position.

Push up w dumbbell row image

  • Once you’re back in the push up position the row movement comes next.
  • Row the dumbbell up and towards your chest, keeping your elbows tucked into your sides and using your back muscles to perform the movement. 
  • Pause briefly and then return the dumbbell back down. 
  • Perform another push up and then repeat the row with the opposite arm.

Push Up Row Muscles Worked

You might have heard people refer to this exercise as a ‘push up lat row’ as this is a brilliant exercise for activating your lats (the muscles in your back) as well as the other muscles involved in a regular push up.

Prime Mover: Triceps, Pectoralis Major (Chest), and Latissimus Dorsi.

Secondary Muscles: Trapezius, Biceps, Deltoids, Rectus Abdominis, and Obliques. 

Common Mistakes To Avoid With Push Up Rows

press up row common mistakes image

A little further one we have discussed the benefits of the push up with row exercise, and some exercise variations so that you can switch out your dumbbells for kettlebells or opt for a bodyweight workout instead.

But for now, we thought we would quickly point out some common mistakes that we see a lot and explain how you can avoid them, here goes!

Incorrect Hand Positioning

One mistake that a lot of clients make when performing a press up row is placing their hands too far apart or starting with their hands in the correct position, only to lose that form after a couple of lat rows.

This is a problem for this particular press up variation because it makes the row movement much more difficult, and less effective!

While doing this exercise, your hands should be in line with your shoulders at all times.

Want to try some different press up exercises? Check out our 13 favourite press up variations right here.

Placing Your Feet Together 

press-up row common mistakes

Another common mistake with this movement is positioning yourself so that your feet are too close together or even touching each other! 

Positioning your feet too close to each other can make it really difficult to keep your balance during the press up, but especially as you row the weight towards your chest.

Losing your balance can have a number of negative implications that will either take away from the benefits of doing the exercise or worse, put yourself at risk of an otherwise avoidable injury. 

Firstly, poor balance can cause your hips to sag - a common mistake with most press up exercises that puts an excessive amount of strain on your lower back muscles.

But specific to the push up row exercise, losing your balance can cause your upper body to become unstable during the row part of the exercise. 

If your upper body and core muscles aren’t stable during this part of the movement, you might find yourself twisting your torso towards the dumbbell as you row which will massively reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

Work on your core muscles by trying one these oblique crunch variations.

Not Doing A Full Press Up 

press up row common mistakes graphic

Another thing to look out for when performing this press up variation, is to make sure that you are performing a full press up, that means lowering your body until your chest is near the floor and your elbows are roughly at a 90° angle or less at the bottom of the press up.

Let’s be brutally honest here, if you fail to do the full push up, you’re only cheating yourself!

Not doing the full rep will seriously compromise the benefits of press up rows, also know as a renegade row push up, so it's better to do fewer reps and perform the full movement.

If you struggle to do a full push up, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on the press up row! 

You can make the exercise easier by placing your knees to the ground, or check out how to do the renegade row here and work up to the push up plus row as your strength increases. 

Don't Lock Your Elbows 

One final common mistake that we see all too often is people hyperextending their arms (or locking out their elbows) after they have performed the press up part of the exercise.

Although your arms should be extended out in front of you, you need to avoid straightening your arms completely and definitely do not lock your arms at your elbows. 

Locking your elbows during the press up row can put a lot of strain on your elbow joints, and over time, this could lead to an injury.

Renegade Row Push Up Benefits

Want to know about the benefits of press up rows (also known as renegade push up rows) outside of the muscles worked?

A little further on we’ve discussed some variations of this exercise, but for now here are all of the benefits of incorporating the press up row into your regular workouts.

Push & Pull Movement 

renegade row push up benefits building muscle

One of the press up row benefits is that this exercise is one of very few push and pull exercises.

The press up part of the movement is a push exercise and the lat row is a pull exercise, meaning that the push up row combo provides you with the best of both worlds.

Combining push and pull means that rather than just developing the chest muscles like any other kind of press up, doing a push up with a dumbbell row also benefits your back muscles too, helping you to build a well-balanced physique overall.

Corrects Poor Posture 

Renegade row push up benefits posture

One of the best things about the press up row is that it can help to correct poor posture!

Thanks to the fact that this exercise combines all of the benefits of a regular push up for your core muscles with some benefits for building the muscles in your back, the press up row really helps to keep your back strong and stable, which helps to correct issues with poor posture.

Even if you don’t think that poor posture is a problem for you, there are tons of benefits of having good posture that extend beyond how you look. 

According to Healthline, a few great examples of the benefits of good posture include:

  • Reduced lower back pain
  • Fewer headaches 
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved lung capacity
  • Reduced joint pain 
  • You look taller!

If you're concerned about the effect that sitting behind a desk is having your on posture, check out our tips for working on your fitness in the office.

Muscle Development 

renegade row push up benefits strength

If you want to build a stronger upper body, either for an aesthetic goal or because you want to get stronger in general, then the press up row is a brilliant exercise to try.

It's no secret that press ups are probably the best bodyweight exercises for bulking up your chest, and when you combine those benefits with the benefits of lat rows for your back muscles, you get a great exercise that builds functional strength. 

Building a strong back and developing core stability with the renegade push up row has transferable benefits for tons of other sports and daily activities, and is especially beneficial if you have the kind of job that involves sitting down behind a computer screen for prolonged periods of time.

Want to make a career out of your passion for health and fitness? Enquire about our Level 4 advanced nutrition qualification or find out how to become a sports nutritionist here!

Push Up Rows: Two Variations To Try 

Now that you’ve mastered how to do press up rows, why not switch up your workouts with one these press up alternatives?

Kettlebell Press Up With Row

Set up: This alternative exercise is pretty similar to the push up dumbbell row, but you’ll need to swap out your dumbbells for a pair of kettlebells. 

Again, you might want to grab an exercise mat, and you’ll definitely need to find somewhere with plenty of space.

Starting Position 

Kettlebell Push Up With Row starting image

  • Holding a kettlebell in each hand, get into a regular push up position on the floor.
  • Extend your legs behind you and place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
  • Grab the kettlebell at the top of the handle and rest the bottom of the weight flat on the floor.
  • Your arms should be fully extended, with your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Engage your core and ensure that your body forms a straight line from your head all the way down to your heels.

Execution 

Kettlebell Push Up With Row image

  • Start the press up part of the movement by bending at your elbows to lower your chest towards the ground.
  • Pause briefly at the bottom of the press up and then push yourself back up.

Kettlebell press Up With Row image

  • Row the kettlebell towards your chest, keeping your elbows tucked into your side.
  • Repeat the row movement with your opposite arm.
  • That's one rep of the kettlebell press up row done!

Kettlebell Press Up With Row Muscle Worked 

This renegade row with push up variation with a kettlebell works all of the same muscles as the dumbbell push up row with added benefits for your core as a result of the off-center weight of the kettlebell.

Prime Mover: Triceps, Pectoralis Major, and Latissimus Dorsi.

Secondary Muscles: Trapezius, Biceps, Deltoids, Rectus Abdominis, and Obliques. 

Mistakes To Avoid With Kettlebell Press Up Rows

This exercise is really similar to the dumbbell push up rows that we discussed just above, so pay attention to all of the points above when you execute this exercise too.

In addition to those, here are a few other things to look out for.

Moving Your Hips Too Much 

Renegade row with push-up graphic

It’s not exactly easy to balance your weight on the kettlebells, so paying a lot of attention as you execute this renegade row with push up exercise is really important.

The most common mistake we see with the form for this move, is people failing to keep their posture controlled and solid throughout the push up and the row movement. 

Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to keep your hips still. Letting your hips sag down towards the ground during the press up or allowing your hips from rotating towards your arm as you row are both equally important to avoid.

Moving Too Quickly 

Push-up rows common mistakes

One other common mistake to look out for when performing kettlebell push up rows is moving too quickly.

If you try to complete your reps as quickly as possible, you run the risk of failing to place the bottom of the kettlebell securely on the mat, which will likely cause you to lose your balance.

Instead, perform this exercise in a controlled manner and pay attention to the muscles that you are using to make sure you stick to the right form for the push up position row.

Kettlebell Push Up With Row Benefits

kettlebell Renegade row push up benefit

This exercise has all of the same benefits as the dumbbell push up with a row and press explained above, with some additional benefits associated with kettlebell training.

Specifically, because the off-center weight of the kettlebell places the weight further away from your body than it would be if you were using a pair of dumbbells, this exercise is even more challenging than a dumbbell press up row.

You might wonder why this exercise being more challenging is one of its benefits, but trust us, with increased work, comes increased reward!

Compared to the same weight dumbbells, using a kettlebell will work your core muscles, specifically, your obliques even harder, resulting in significant benefits improve your core strength and stability. 

When we're done here, why not give this full body kettlebell workout a try.

How To Do A Typewriter Push Up

If you don’t have access to dumbbells or kettlebells but you still want an exercise that is similar to the press up row, typewriter press ups (also known as side-to-side press ups) are a brilliant bodyweight alternative.

Looking for more exercises that you can do at home? Check out the Origym guide to planning a great home workout. 

Set Up: Practicing a typewriter push up requires no extra equipment, all you need is enough floor space to get into a press up position and some room around you so that you can move side to side.

Starting Position:

typewriter push ups

  • Get on the floor in a plank position.
  • Place your hands on the ground wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Extend your legs backwards and keep your feet close together.
  • Ensure that your body is in one straight line from your head to toes (engaging your core and your glutes will help you to keep this form).
  • Bend your arms to lower your chest towards the ground.
  • Hold this push up position.

Execution: 

typewriter press up

  • With your body lowered towards the ground, shift your body weight to your left, moving your upper body to the side until your left shoulder is directly above your left hand.

typewriter press ups

  • Pause briefly and then move your body towards your right, pausing when your right shoulder is directly above your right hand.
  • Continue to move side to side for your desired number of reps.

Typewriter Press Ups Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Pectoralis Major (Central Chest Muscle)

Secondary Muscles: Deltoids (Shoulder Muscles), Elbow Flexors, Abdominals.

Common Mistakes to Avoid With Typewriter Push Ups

typewriter push up common mistakes

Incorrect Elbow Placement

One mistake that a lot of clients will make when performing typewriter push is positioning their elbow incorrectly, setting themselves up to lose their balance or to potentially 

Try not to align your elbow perpendicular to your body as this can cause injury to your joints. 

Instead of a 90-degree angle, pull your arm back slightly so that it is diagonal to your body.

Using Your Hips

If you want to get the most out of the benefits of typewriter push ups, this is another thing that you need to know.

As you shift your bodyweight from side to side, make sure that you aren’t using your hips to rock yourself back and forth. 

This exercise is designed to target the chest and arms and by using your hips to drive the movement, you are making the exercise less effective for working those muscles. 

Benefits Of Typewriter Press Ups

benefits of typewriter push ups

A Great Upper Body Exercise

If you have ever tried this press up row alternative before, then you’ll know that this is a killer upper body exercise.

This alternative to push up rows is also a great exercise to target multiple muscles in your upper body, working your chest in particular. 

If your exercise goals include building upper body strength and developing a more defined torso, you definitely need to add this exercise into your next workout! 

Want more of these benefits? Here are the best push up bars to strengthen your upper body at home.

Great For Shoulder Health 

Probably our favourite thing about the typewriter press up is its benefits for developing shoulder health.

One problem with working on your chest muscles using a bench or machine is that it doesn’t allow your Scapula the freedom to move naturally. 

Typewriter push ups, on the other hand, give your shoulders the space to move naturally, which strengthens your joints and can actually protect them from injury.

Before You Go!

Now that you know how to do a press up row, what are you waiting for? Get started and see the benefits of this exercise for yourself!

Think of yourself as a fitness fanatic? Whilst you're here, why not enquire about one of our Ofqual regulated personal trainer courses and make a career out of your passion.

Find out more about the range of health and fitness qualifications that we offer here at OriGym by downloding our FREE course prospectus

References

Jonaitis, J. (2020, April 14). 12 Benefits of Good Posture - and How to Maintain It. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/posture-benefits

Tone It Up. (2019, January 24). Push + Pull ~ Why Your Workouts Need Both! Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.toneitup.com/workouts/push-pull-exercises-workout-benefits/ 


Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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