Bodyweight Row Progressions and Free Gift

A 2 part drawing of a man performing a bodyweight row using suspension straps. He is standing and leaning back so that his body is about 45-degrees with the ground.

Here is the Suspension Strap Row Progression I use with wrestlers.

Having progressions for bodyweight exercises is crucial to ensure continued progress.

While this post is specific to the bodyweight row, consider the principles below. Specifically, think about how you can use them to improve other bodyweight exercises.

The application of these principles may be especially helpful for exercises that have become too easy.

Progression 1- Standing

The standing variation can be a bit awkward. Unfortunately, it’s necessary if you’re unable to perform the second progression.

As with all of the rows, focus on pulling your elbows back and trying to touch them behind your back.

To increase/decrease the difficulty, simply move your feet. For example, the more perpendicular you are to the ground, the easier the row is.

A lot of the time pulling exercises become a competition. The focus can shift from getting strong to who can move the most weight. As a result, breakdowns in form can occur as momentum is used to initiate the pull.

However, rarely, if ever, in a match do you initiate a pull with your upper body by using your legs or hips. So doing this is actually counter-productive as far as functional strength training for wrestling is concerned.

For more on how to “clean up” your pulling exercises for wrestling, click here to read a post I wrote about the knowledge of the great Ronnie Coleman. …It’s actually a good post and I had some fun shooting the videos for it, so check it out.

Progression 2- Bent Legs

As with any of the progressions, one big focus here is to keep your glutes locked. This ensures your hips stay in line with your knees and shoulders throughout the set. Again, this is a way to prevent you from swinging at the hips and/or driving with the legs.

Be sure to set the straps at a height that allows you to hover over the ground when you’re at the bottom of the exercise. Your arms should be able to straighten completely with your back just off the ground.

Progression 3- Holds

Think about squeezing and holding your shoulder blades together at the top of each rep. Usually I shoot for a 2-5 second hold. Be sure that proper range of motion is maintained.

As you progress, make sure your form from the previous progression doesn’t breakdown. If you notice this happening, simply go back to the last progression.

It’s not a big deal. Lifting is a marathon, not a sprint. Develop the strength necessary at each progression before you move on.

Progression 4- Feet Up

Just like in the other progressions, keep your glutes tight so your hips create a straight line between your ankles and shoulders.

A final progression I add is a hold at the top of each rep. The super strong wrestlers I train can do this progression for 8-12 reps for a number of sets.

Additionally, feel free to add elements that will challenge your grip.

Here’s a pic of a setup I use to hang a Gi. I also have a few 2″ thick ropes that I’ll have wrestlers use.

A picture of a Spud Inc. yellow strap hanging from a rack with a white Jiu Jitsu Gi through a loop at the end. It's set up for a person to perform a bodyweight row.

Make Your Own Straps For Cheap!

Save some money and make your own straps.

Click here to download my Suspension Straps E-Book (PDF opens in a new window).

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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