What is the one arm dumbbell row?

One arm dumbbell row also referred to as the dumbbell row or the one arm DB row, is a classic exercise that works on your upper body. It is a unilateral exercise that trains one part of your body at a time.  The single arm dumbbell row is so effective that even bodybuilding icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger endorse it.

The one arm DB row targets your entire back, core, arms, and shoulders. It works on these muscles:

  • Rhomboids: The smaller muscles in the upper back
  • Trapezius: Muscles located across your shoulder blades in the upper back
  • Latissiumus Dorsi: The broad muscle located along the back of the ribs
  • Erector spinae: Muscle that lies along the rotator cuff and the spine
  • Posterior deltoids: Muscles at the back of the shoulders
  • Biceps: Muscles of the upper arm
  • Triceps

How is one arm dumbbell row done?

The key to a great one arm dumbbell row workout is your form. Here’s how to perfect the technique of this exercise every time you attempt it. To do this workout at home, you need a bench or a stable thigh-high platform.

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and bend your torso to place your left hand and knee on the bench. 
  • Position your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Contract your core muscle and stabilise your spine while keeping your back flat and aligned with your spine.
  • Pull your shoulders down without letting your back arch. This position should be maintained throughout the single arm DB row exercise.
  • Extend the right arm towards the ground without allowing your shoulders or torso to move or rotate.
  • Now slowly pull the dumbbell up while bending your elbow. Pull your upper arm backwards while keeping it close to your body.
  • Remember not to rotate your body during the upward movement.
  • Gently lower the dumbbell to the starting position while maintaining a flat back and pulled shoulder position.
  • Repeat the one handed dumbbell row on the other side.

Sets and reps for the one arm dumbbell row: You can do 3-4 sets of 7-8 reps with each arm. 

What are the benefits of one arm dumbbell row?

  1. One of the most important benefits of single arm dumbbell row is that it stabilises and strengthens your core. This not just adds to your athletic performance but also makes doing daily activities easier. 
  2. The one arm dumbbell row gives you a stronger back allowing you to carry, lift, and bend easily. 
  3. One of the most important one arm dumbbell row benefits is that it allows rapid hypertrophy. This means that it promotes a greater stretch at the repetition’s midpoint, which strengthens your muscles more.
  4. The one arm dumbbell row benefits people with poor posture and those who lead a sedentary life. By strengthening your upper back muscles, the single handed dumbbell row not just improves your posture but also reduces postural pains and stiffness. 
  5. Arm dumbbell rows are amongst the best weight loss exercises. By torching calories, it helps you achieve your optimum weight levels. This prevents several obesity-related health issues such as kidney problems, cardiac diseases, diabetes, etc.
  6. The dumbbell row one arm exercise helps you achieve an aesthetic body shape. In women, it creates a broader back that makes the waistline appear smaller and in men, the single handed dumbbell row creates that much-coveted V-shape torso.
  7. The one arm dumbbell row workout is modifiable to match every individual’s specific needs, exercise experience, and age.
  8. The dumbbell row one arm exercise is easy to do at home. All you need is a set of dumbbells and a bench.

What are the alternatives to the one arm dumbbell row?

For people who don’t want to load up their back in an unsupported position of the one arm dumbbell row, several other great exercises work as single arm DB row alternatives. These include:

1. Inverted row: This single arm DB row alternative produces a high activation of your back muscles while lowering the spinal load. To do this exercise, lie on your back on a bench with your chest positioned directly under the bar. Grab the bar with a wider than shoulder-width grip and pull the bar towards yourself. 

2. Seated row: This one arm dumbbell row alternative reduces the pressure on the lower back by eliminating the unsupported position. To do this exercise, sit upright and grab a resistance band or the cable machine handles by extending your arms. Pull the handles towards yourself while keeping the elbows close to your body. This one arm dumbbell row alternative can be done as a one or two arm exercise.

How to do one arm dumbbell row safely?

Since it is a weighted exercise, in one arm dumbbell row form is the key. Here are some things to keep in mind while doing the one arm dumbbell row exercise:

  • If you suffer from any specific health problems, never do the one handed dumbbell row without consulting your doctor.
  • Use weights according to your capacity while doing the one arm dumbbell row. Lifting excessive weights at the outset may cause injuries.
  • To ensure the correct one arm dumbbell row form, ensure that your elbows don’t rise above your back. Also, avoid excessive rotation of your torso especially while rowing up the dumbbell. 
  • Use your lats to bring up the weight and not your arms. 
  • Focus on retracting the shoulder muscles and pulling the dumbbell close to your waistline. 
  • If at any time while doing the single arm DB row you feel pain or dizziness, stop exercising immediately. 
  • Never start doing the one arm dumbbell row exercise on your own. It is important to learn its technique from an experienced trainer to avoid muscle strain and injuries. 


One arm dumbbell row ranks right at the top when it comes to gaining a strong back. It is an excellent exercise not just to have a more robust back but also for your overall health. The key to keeping yourself engaged and motivated is to try one arm dumbbell row alternatives to challenge yourself. 

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May 12, 2022

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