How To Do Gorilla Row Properly

Many exercises take the names of the animals which inspire them, and the gorilla row is no different.

Gorillas are known for their immense brute strength, and you don’t want to come face to face with a fully grown male one. The size of it alone, and the shoulders and back!

The back is muscular and strong, and that is the inspiration for the gorilla row exercise.

At the mention of back exercises, the first exercises that come to mind is the bent-over row, T-bar, and single-arm dumbbell row.

All of these exercises are good. If you get bored, it is time to diversify and a new exercise into your routine and that is when the gorilla row comes in. This is a row like you have never done before!


For this exercise, you will need two kettlebells

  • Start standing up with the feet shoulder-width apart. Put the dumbbells in front of you, about hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees slightly, hinge forward from your hips, and reach down and grasp the handles. Push your knees out to make space for the weights.
  • Tighten your core while making sure your back is not rounded.
  • Grip the one of the kettlebells tightly, as you lift the other one up and back toward your hip
  • Bring the lifted kettlebell down and do the same to the other
  • Keep alternating and do as many repetitions as you wish.



The lats, as they are also known, are found on the side of your upper back. These muscles give your back its width. They are mainly responsible for shoulder adduction and extension.


Also known as the traps, it sits across your upper back. While the lats give your back its width, the traps give your back thickness.

They elevate and depress your shoulder girdle. They are also responsible for retraction of the shoulder blades.


The deltoids are made up of three sets of fibers or heads that make up the deltoids; anterior, medial, and posterior.

The gorilla rows work all three with a deeper focus on the posterior or rear deltoids.


When people do gorilla rows, they mostly do them for their backs. But there is no way you can do this exercise without engaging the biceps.

When you look at your upper arm, there is a part at the front that sort of protrudes. That there is your bicep and they help you flex your elbows.


A firm grip is one of the hallmarks of the gorilla rows. When you grip the kettlebell when doing this exercise, you engage your forearms.

Kettlebells are recommended for this exercise over dumbbells because their handles have bigger widths. This makes you apply a firmer hold and grip as you work out, and this works your forearms.


There are many muscles in your midsection, and they are collectively known as the core.


This exercise focuses more on the upper body. However, this is not to say that they do not to some extent engage the lower body, especially the legs.



The other back exercises are good but every once in a while you need something to spur things up and keep you engaged.

This exercise isn’t very common, that is why you should add it to your collection of the many rowing exercises you already do.


Other rowing exercises are notorious for straining the lower back and causing pain and discomfort. You use your hand to support some of your weight.

Thus, the lower back does not have to strain so hard when doing this exercise.


This exercise engages multiple muscle groups in the upper and lower bodies all at once. These are functional muscles that are responsible for the daily pushing and pulling activities.


This exercise works on one side of the body at a time. Most people have imbalances in the back. To correct this, work more on the side that has the imbalance.

Just make sure not to work one side too much because this may end up affecting your posture.



If you do not have kettlebells, do not sweat it. You can totally switch them up with dumbbells. The only disadvantage of using dumbbells is that there handles are harder to access.

If you find them strenuous, place them on a raised platform so you don’t have to arch your back too much. As compared to kettlebells, the dumbbells do not require a very strong grip.

How to do it:

  1. Stand between two dumbbells and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Engage your core, reach forward and grab the dumbbells. Do not round your back as you do this.
  3. Bend one arm and pull the dumbbell up and into your side. Keep your upper arm close to your body.
  4. Return the dumbbell to the floor and do the same thing to the other side
  5. Do as many reps as you wish floor and then repeat on the opposite side.


If you  only have access to one kettlebell, do not sweat it. You will work one arm at a time, which makes for a good unilateral exercise. This is a good variation for engaging the waist muscles.


There is no growing without rowing,  that is the motto when it comes to back building. The other exercises for adding your back width, but if you want to add thickness to your back you have to try gorilla row.

Try other variations that only require a single weight if you do not have two. If you suffer back problems, this exercise may trigger it. It is therefore best to place on the platforms so you don’t hurt your back.