Back exercises will at all times require each vertical and horizontal pulling workouts for full growth. While pull-ups and pulldowns are widespread vertical pulls, some of the basic horizontal pulling workouts is the single-arm dumbbell row.

The single-arm dumbbell row is a unilateral (single-side) train that builds the energy and measurement of the latissimus dorsi (giant again muscle) and improves the general perform of the shoulder joint. Here’s what you should find out about some of the easy and efficient again workouts.

How to Do the Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

There are a number of related variations of the single-arm row, which will likely be addressed in a separate part of the article, utilizing a wide range of arm positions and paths of movement to emphasise completely different muscle mass. The most elementary single-arm row method will emphasize the lat muscle.

Step 1 — Support Yourself on a Flat Bench

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Put one hand and the same-side knee on a flat bench with a dumbbell resting on the bench between them. Your again ought to stay flat and your shoulder blades ought to be pulled down and again, in the direction of the again pocket of your pants. Keep your head and neck impartial, not pointed as much as the ceiling or down in the direction of the bottom. Your eyes can have a look at the bottom in entrance of the bench.

Grab the dumbbell with the hand that isn’t on the bench. With your palm going through the bench, permit the burden to achieve to the bottom with out pulling your shoulder joint down. Your elbow ought to be comparatively straight, however not locked, within the stretched place.

Form Tip: The dumbbell will attempt to pull your physique down to at least one facet, however hold your core muscle mass engaged all through the train to maintain your hips degree and preserve a straight line out of your hips to your neck.

Step 2 — Lift the Weight Towards Your Hip

Muscular man performing dumbbell rowCredit: Slatan / Shutterstock

Bend your elbow to slip the burden in the direction of the hip on the identical facet. Maintain a impartial hand place, along with your palm going through the bench and your physique. Keep your elbow near the physique to maximally have interaction the lat muscle.

Keep your hand according to your forearm, immediately beneath your elbow. In the highest place, your forearm ought to be close to your ribs and the burden ought to virtually contact your hip.

Form Tip: As you pull the burden up, don’t over-rotate your shoulders or twist your trunk. Avoid jerking the burden or heaving your higher physique to create momentum.

Step 3 — Lower to the Stretched Position

woman in gym performing dumbbell row exerciseCredit: Syda Productions / Shutterstock

Slowly reverse path to decrease the burden again to the place to begin. Be positive the burden strikes in a slight arc away out of your hip till your arm is sort of straight with the burden immediately beneath your shoulder.

Form Tip: Don’t lose your shoulder placement as you decrease the burden. Keep your shoulder locked into your shoulder girdle and pulled away from the ear, not shrugged up in the direction of your ear or in the direction of the ceiling.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row Mistakes to Avoid

Most kind issues with the single-arm row should do with dropping correct place of the torso, shoulder, or arm. Maintaining deal with physique consciousness and easy method cues will help you to keep away from these points.

Sagging Lower Back

Losing core engagement could cause the decrease again to begin to drop towards the bench. This could cause again ache or damage by growing pressure on the vertebrae.

Woman in gym rowing dumbbellCredit: Svitlana Hulko / Shutterstock

Avoid It: Imagine lengthening your backbone in each instructions, out of your tailbone to your neck. Keep your abs tense. Don’t permit your hips to rotate, which may encourage your decrease again to drop out of place.

Curving the Spine Upward

Just like a sagging backbone, the alternative is feasible and equally problematic. You need to preserve a impartial torso, neither rounded or curved excessively, with a purpose to hold your joints aligned for optimum energy output and muscle recruitment.

man performing dumbbell row incorrectlyCredit: Alberto Isidro Orozco / Shutterstock

Losing a neutral-spine place and curving too far up will forestall the shoulder from reaching a full vary of movement. This will make the train much less efficient and might pressure the shoulder joint.

Avoid it: Think of holding your higher physique flat with robust abs and regular, secure hips.

Dropping Out of the Shoulder Joint

Especially within the eccentric (decreasing) portion of the train, the shoulder placement can get misplaced as the burden “pulls” the arm downward.

Woman stretching arm and shoulder with dumbbellCredit: Syda Productions / Shutterstock

If the shoulder drops out of the shoulder girdle and the shoulder blades come ahead, you will be uncovered to shoulder ache or damage.

Avoid it: Keep your shoulder blade pressed in the direction of your again pocket all through the train, particularly whereas decreasing the burden into the stretched place.

Benefits of the Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

The single-arm row is likely one of the most effective methods to construct measurement and energy within the again, shoulders, and arms.

Muscular man in gym rowing dumbbell on benchCredit: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

The motion works a majority of muscle mass within the higher physique and can be utilized to emphasise muscular measurement or energy.

Training for a V-Taper Physique

The single-arm row can add muscular measurement to the shoulders, higher again, and lats to create a perfect v-taper, or inverted triangle, physique. This provides the looks of an athletic, well-developed physique.

Training for Strength

Building energy within the muscle mass of the again can carry over to improved stability when supporting the burden throughout heavy bench presses, overhead presses, and numerous different workouts.

Improved Shoulder Health

Because the single-arm row prompts higher again muscle mass together with the trapezius and rhomboids, it may be helpful for total scapular well being and shoulder perform.

Muscles Worked by Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

The single-arm row is a radical higher physique train as a result of it incorporates a number of muscle mass in a single motion.

Muscular man performing dumbbell row exercise in gymCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Like many multi-joint (compound) workouts, it’s an environment friendly selection for a wide range of exercise applications.

Latissimus Dorsi

The largest again muscle, the latissimus dorsi or “lat,” is the first muscle being recruited throughout single-arm rows. The lats are discovered on each side of your again, working from the shoulder blades to beneath the ribs. They primarily work to attract the higher arm in the direction of the centerline of your physique.

Upper Back

The higher again consists of a number of comparatively extra minor muscle mass working throughout the shoulder blades, together with the rhomboids, rear deltoids (shoulders), and teres main and minor. These muscle mass share related roles for scapular (shoulder blade) mobility and stability.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps, discovered on the entrance a part of the higher arm, work to bend and flex the elbow. They are recruited secondarily, not as major movers, through the row.

Who Should Do the Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

The single-arm row is appropriate with most lifters. It’s a helpful addition to a newbie’s higher physique coaching and it may be educated long-term as you progress in kind and weight as you go alongside.

Lifters Training for Muscle Size

The single-arm row has been a bodybuilding staple for many years as a result of it focuses the muscle-building stimulus on one facet of the physique at a time, which permits for extra targeted coaching and symmetrical progress and growth.

Beginning Lifters

The help of the bench will assist to deal with kind. It’s a superb option to practice a number of muscle mass whereas growing again energy. The single-arm row is a foundational train which helps to construct a base of common energy.

Frequent Sitters

If you sit for work, stare at a pc display for an enormous a part of your day, or discover that you’re beginning to get a ahead roll in your higher again, the single-arm row will help to counteract alignment points and postural issues by strengthening the higher again.

How to Program the Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

The single-arm row is flexible and can be utilized in a variety of programming for all full again and shoulder growth.

Single-Arm Row for Size Gains

If you might be engaged on gaining measurement within the lats, use the single-arm row on a low-rep, high-weight higher physique day. Perform three to 4 units of six to eight reps utilizing a weight that makes the final two reps very tough to finish. Never lose stability within the shoulder or core, even when lifting heavy.

Single-Arm Row for Mobility

The single-arm row will be programmed to enhance shoulder and higher again mobility. This strategy will deal with good alignment within the backbone, stability within the shoulder, and a gradual eccentric (decreasing) movement. Take one second to boost the burden and three seconds to decrease it — assume “up, down, down, down.” This sort of coaching makes use of a average weight for two to 3 units of 10 to 12 repetitions, with the final two reps being comparatively tough to finish on the gradual tempo. 

Single-Arm Row for Recovery

If you might be recovering from a shoulder overuse damage, take into account performing the train with out weights or with one to 5 kilos, for one or two units of 20 to 25 reps. The objective right here is simply to maintain the joint cellular and improve the flexibleness of the muscle mass across the joint.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row Variations

Minor changes handy or physique place, or vary of movement, can problem your muscle mass in a brand new approach and alter muscle recruitment for extra selection.

Floor Single-Arm Row

No bench? No downside. Use the ground. Get down in your arms and knees. Mimic the identical positioning of your again and shoulders. Place the dumbbell weight beneath your hand and pull from there. The weight can contact the ground on the backside of the train.

This will be a perfect choice for lifters with shoulder points as a result of the vary of movement is decreased and the ground helps the underside of the train, fairly than the burden hanging freely by your facet.

Self-Supported Single-Arm Row

Stand with barely bent legs whereas bent ahead on the waist in a hinge place. Support your self along with your non-working hand in your thigh. Perform the row the identical approach as you’ll with a bench. Make positive you don’t elevate your torso and switch the train right into a shrug.

If stability is a matter, you possibly can stand in a lunge-type place along with your ft staggered whereas resting your free hand on the ahead leg.

Supinated Single-Arm Row

Instead of the palm going through the facet of the physique, flip your palm in the direction of the entrance (supinated) and preserve this hand place through the train. This considerably recruits the biceps whereas additionally involving the lats.

This grip adjustment additionally permits you to pull the burden greater into your hip, which adjustments the texture of the height contraction.

Elbow-Out Single-Arm Row

This variation emphasizes the higher again way more than the lats, making it a more practical train for focusing on higher again measurement and/or shoulder well being. (1)

Face your palm in the direction of your ft all through the set and row along with your elbow to the facet according to your shoulder, fairly than near your ribs. In the highest place, your shoulder, elbow, and hand ought to kind a 90-degree angle out of your physique.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row Alternatives

Lots of workouts are nice for the higher again, and it’s nice to vary them up or add some to your common routine.

Seated Row

The seated row will be carried out at a cable station or with a resistance band across the ft, sitting on the ground.

Keep a tall higher physique posture and secure physique place, and work by a full vary of movement utilizing a thumbs-up grip for optimum again and shoulder recruitment.

Lat Pulldown

The pulldown is a basic vertical pulling train for strengthening the lats. Keep your shoulders down and again through the train with a purpose to additionally recruit your higher again.

Keep your core engaged and don’t permit your backbone to spherical. In the underside place, your elbows ought to be barely behind you for an entire muscular contraction.


Why do I really feel the single-arm dumbbell row largely in my biceps?

Double-check your kind. Make positive you have got good spinal alignment and an engaged core. Don’t permit your shoulder to achieve out of the shoulder girdle. most significantly, deal with pulling the burden again towards your hip, as an alternative of in the direction of your shoulder, to have interaction extra lat muscle and fewer biceps.

Why does my neck harm through the train?

You’re probably attempting to look ahead, which is cranking your neck in a clumsy place. Keep your gaze right down to the ground barely in entrance of the bench, not up in the direction of the wall or mirror and never down in the direction of your hand on the bench.

One Arm, All the Gains

The single-arm dumbbell row is a key participant in long-term coaching. Mastering this basic train as a newbie can repay with wider lats, a stronger higher again, and more healthy shoulders within the long-run. Grab your bench and begin rowing.


  1. Fennell, J., Phadke, C. P., Mochizuki, G., Ismail, F., & Boulias, C. (2016). Shoulder Retractor Strengthening Exercise to Minimize Rhomboid Muscle Activity and Subacromial Impingement. Physiotherapy Canada. Physiotherapie Canada, 68(1), 24–28.

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