The Inverted Row is a great exercise for strengthening your upper back muscles.
Furthermore, it can be used as a precursor to working on full pull-ups.
To progress to this you may need to start off with some upright rows first.
Here are a few pointers to look out for when performing your rows:
You should ensure that your elbows stay tucked in, close to your body through the rowing motion; letting your elbows flare out to the side will put unnecessary pressure on your shoulders.
Keep Your Body Straight
Your entire body should be in a straight line from head to toe, throughout the movement; if you fail to do so then regress the exercise and try again.
A common mistake I see is bobbing of the head forward to try and get a little closer to the bar, don’t do this it will put extra strain on your neck; keep your head straight with the rest of your body.
Keep your hands shoulder-width apart, close hand rows can come later; your hands should be level with your shoulders so that the bar ends up at the lower point of your chest.
Squeeze Your Shoulder Blades Together
When pulling yourself up, you really want to squeeze your shoulder blades together and down; imagine there’s an apple between them, your goal is to crush it with your shoulder blades.
This will help engage your rhomboids.
I recommend at least a 2-1-2 cadence for the rows, that is two seconds to pull, one second hold, two second back down.
Before starting the exercise, take a deep breath in, then let it out as you pull yourself up (concentric phase). On the way back down (eccentric phase), take another deep breath in.
Try to breath with your stomach rather than your chest as this will engage your diaphragm, intercostals and abdominal muscles to get more strength from your core.
Deltoid posterior (back)
Pectoralis major, sternal (lower)
Progression / Regression
You should start this exercise with your feet as close to the point below your hands as required to perform a strict rep.
Once you can perform the required number of reps and sets, you should then make it more difficult.
If you fail to complete a perfect form inverted row at the current foot position, then regress the exercise.
Another way to regress the exercise is by bending the knees, this distributes less weight through the upper body.