Gorilla Row Muscles Worked

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

If you're looking to strengthen your back and upper body, the gorilla row exercise may be just what you need.

This comprehensive analysis will delve into the specific muscles targeted by this exercise and provide tips on how to effectively engage and strengthen them. Get ready to unleash your inner beast with the gorilla row!

What is the gorilla row exercise?

The gorilla row exercise is a powerful compound movement that targets multiple muscles in the back and upper body.

It is a variation of the traditional bent-over row, but with a wider stance and a more explosive movement.

By using a combination of pulling and rowing motions, the gorilla row engages the muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and arms, helping to build strength and improve posture.

Gorilla rows are similar to plank rows, but use alternating arm action. The difference is that you can use mismatched weights or use a kettlebell if it's comfortable.

The weights should be at about midshin height. When using mismatched weights, make sure to use a weight bench or something else to brace your non-working arm against.

The gorilla row is a good upper body workout that works many muscles in the upper and posterior chains.

It is perfect for those looking to improve their back strength and overall aesthetic.

And unlike plank rows, it requires minimal equipment. If you are looking to enhance the development of your lats, gorilla rows are a great addition to your back day routine. 

If you'd like to try this exercise, you can try a bodyweight version of the exercise by holding a barbell or a TRX strap.

It's a fantastic way to develop back strength because it challenges your grip and core muscles. As you build strength and improve control of your body, you'll also develop a more balanced back.

The gorilla row is a great back exercise that works the entire body. It works the upper back, the lower back, the legs, and the arms.

This exercise is also helpful for correcting strength imbalances between the left and right sides of the body. This imbalance can cause postural problems or injuries. This exercise requires a firm grip and requires the use of two dumbbells or kettlebells.

Primary muscles targeted by the gorilla row

The gorilla row exercise primarily targets the muscles in the back, specifically the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, and trapezius.

These muscles are responsible for pulling movements and are crucial for a strong and well-developed back.

Additionally, the gorilla row also engages the muscles in the shoulders, including the deltoids, as well as the muscles in the arms, such as the biceps and forearms.

Erector spinae

The erector spinae muscles are located on the back, across the upper portion. They give the back its shape and are responsible for side-to-side movement. They are made up of three sets of fibers: upper, middle, and lower.

These muscles work with the erector spinae to provide the movement. The gorilla row works these muscles primarily. It also works the rhomboids, which are located below the mid traps and between the shoulder blades.

Gorilla rows target the muscles in the back, arms, and core, while strengthening the erector spinae muscles in the spine.

They are also great for fixing left-to-right strength imbalances. Having too much of a difference between the left and right side of the body can lead to postural problems and injuries. The gorilla row also teaches a static hip hinge, which is essential for good body balance.

Gorilla rows require two kettlebells of the same weight. While this exercise builds back strength and shoulder bone mobility, it also requires tight abs and a strong core.

Kettlebells have thicker handles than dumbbells, which increases forearm engagement.

Erector spinae muscles are responsible for many crucial functions, but often are overlooked in favor of upper-body exercises. A strong back will allow you to lift more weight in the gym and prevent back pain.

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Biceps brachii

The gorilla row is an excellent exercise to build up the biceps and back. It can also be used to strengthen your chest and shoulders.

The gorilla row involves standing with your feet shoulder-width apart with dumbbells in front of you. As you bend forward and reach down to grasp the handles, you should push your knees out to create space for the weights.

You should then tighten your core to maintain a firm, stable position while performing the exercise. Repeat for as many reps as you can manage.

Among the non-human great apes, gorillas have the shortest fascicle length in the wrist extensors.

Other non-human species with similar muscle architecture include chimpanzees and orangutans. These species are believed to share common evolutionary origins in the development of orthogrady.

The biceps brachii originate from the scapula and attach to the radius. The short head originates from the lesser tubercle of the humerus while the long head arises from the supraglenoid.

These differences in the location of biceps brachii cause them to have reduced shoulder flexion capacity, but compensate for this by having a large PCSA, which increases force production during elbow flexion. 

Secondary muscles engaged during the exercise

In addition to targeting the back muscles, the gorilla row exercise also engages several secondary muscles.

These include the muscles in the core, such as the abdominals and obliques, as they work to stabilize the body during the rowing motion.

The exercise also activates the muscles in the lower body, including the glutes and hamstrings, as they assist in maintaining a stable and balanced position.

By engaging these secondary muscles, the gorilla row provides a comprehensive workout for the entire body, helping to improve overall strength and stability.

Proper form and technique for maximum effectiveness

To get the most out of the gorilla row exercise and ensure maximum effectiveness, it is important to maintain proper form and technique.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand.

Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and core engaged. Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping your elbows close to your body.

Lower the dumbbells back down in a controlled manner and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

It is important to avoid using momentum or swinging your body during the exercise, as this can reduce the effectiveness and increase the risk of injury.

Focus on maintaining a slow and controlled motion, engaging the targeted muscles throughout the entire movement.

Benefits of incorporating gorilla rows into your workout routine

Incorporating gorilla rows into your workout routine can provide numerous benefits for your back and upper body.

Gorilla row exercises work the muscles of the back, shoulders, and core. The hamstrings and glutes will be active in isometric contraction to support the weight and maintain the hinged position, while the core and shoulders work together to pull the kettlebell overhead.

This exercise primarily targets the muscles in your back, including the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, and trapezius.

By performing gorilla rows regularly, you can strengthen and tone these muscles, improving your posture and overall upper body strength.

Additionally, gorilla rows also engage the muscles in your arms, including the biceps and forearms, as well as the muscles in your core, providing a full-body workout.

Using dumbbells to perform a row is a great way to correct muscular imbalances, such as asymmetry between the sides of the body. 

This exercise can help improve your pulling strength and enhance your performance in other exercises such as pull-ups and deadlifts.

Adding gorilla rows to your routine can help you achieve a well-rounded and balanced physique.


The gorilla row is one of the most effective back exercises for developing upper body strength. It is a great lat builder and also works other muscles in the back. It can be performed with dumbbells or kettlebells.

The gorilla row also helps increase lat width. It will also increase strength and improve pulling movements in the upper body. 

The gorilla row is a great back builder, but it also requires proper form. Use dumbbells or a single kettlebell to perform the exercise.

Ensure that the weights are at least the same weight so that your lower back remains rigid and not round. If you have a well-equipped gym, two kettlebells will be the perfect weight for this exercise.

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