How to do the one-arm dumbbell row

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The one-arm dumbbell row is a fantastic exercise for your back as utilising one arm at a time let you really focus on your lats, traps as well as other back muscles which are targeted by the exercise. Making use of dumbbells – as opposed to a barbell – also stops you from depending only on one side of your body to do the majority of the work. In addition, it can highlight any strength imbalances that you need to work on. The one-arm row also has a wider range of motion than the bent-over row as you can row the weight higher as opposed to when using a barbell.

The technique for the one-arm dumbbell row

Place one knee on a flat bench. Keep the other leg extended behind with the foot flat on the floor for balance. Hold the dumbbell in one hand and rest the other hand on the same side of the bent leg on the bench. Keep the chest slightly elevated and extend the arm with the dumbbell towards the floor. Keep the back in an extension by extending the tailbone and keeping the core strong.


Keeping the torso stable throughout the movement, pull the dumbbell up towards the side, extending the elbows as much as possible. Keeping the torso stable, slowly lower the dumbbell to your starting position. Perform how many reps necessary for the desired results.

Safety tips for the one-arm dumbbell row

  • Monitor your spine, pelvic positioning, scapular and elbow motion.
  • Cue your scapular retractors as well as your posterior deltoids.
  • Make sure that your abdominals are engaged.

Biomechanical analysis of the one-arm dumbbell row

The one-arm dumbbell row is a movement of the upper body that takes place in a sagittal/medial plan and mainly uses the muscles of the upper back. The actions are concerned with three joints:

  • Shoulders
  • Scapula
  • Elbow (multi-joint)

This exercise will work the muscles bilaterally. During the upward phase of the row, the shoulder (a ball and socket joint) is formed by the humerus and shoulder girdle. There is an extension, brought about by the Latissimus Dorsi muscles.

At the scapula, there is retraction caused by the Posterior Deltoid muscles. At the elbow (a hinge joint which is formed by the humerus, ulna and radius) there is flexion brought about principally by the action of the Trapezius, Rhomboids and Biceps Brachii muscles. The upward movement is a concentric muscle contraction.

During the downward phase, at the shoulder, the Latissimus Dorsi and Posterior Deltoid muscles cause flexion. At the scapula, protraction is caused by the Trapezius and Rhomboid muscles. At the elbow, the Biceps Brachii causes extension. The downward movement is an eccentric muscle contraction.

Try to do this exercise in front of a mirror so that you can monitor any change in your back or shoulder position. In addition, doing this exercise in front of a mission will allow you to check for trunk rotation.

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