How to Do One-Arm Dumbbell Row: Variations, Proper Form, Techniques

How to Do One-Arm Dumbbell Row: Variations, Proper Form, Techniques

Table of Contents

The one-arm dumbbell row is a compound back exercise movement that targets the trapezius, infraspinatus, teres minor and major, latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, brachialis, and brachioradialis. It is an intermediate-level exercise, that not only aids in muscle development, but also makes everyday tasks like bending, lifting, and carrying items become easier. 

To perform the one-arm dumbbell row correctly, you need to start by placing one leg on the bench. Once you are in position and have the dumbbell held in a neutral grip, row the dumbbell straight towards your chest. When you lift, make sure that you lift with your back and shoulder muscles instead of your arms.

To ensure you are lifting with your shoulders, you must squeeze your shoulder blades together. Also, keep your chest straight throughout the exercise. Finally, lower the dumbbell back towards the floor until you have your arm fully extended. You will do all of your reps with this one arm before switching to the other instead of alternating back and forth. 

There are seven variations of the one-arm dumbbell row, which include the kneeling single-arm dumbbell row, the symmetrical stance single-arm dumbbell row, the split stance single-arm dumbbell row, the decline arcing single-arm dumbbell row, the split stance dead stop single-arm dumbbell row, the bird dog row, and the RDL row. 

Most of the common mistakes associated with the one-arm dumbbell row involve the back position. Many people arch their lower back, don’t bend over enough, or don’t keep their neck aligned with their spine, which can cause injury. Also, you shouldn’t lift with your biceps or swing your arm when performing this exercise, or you won’t get as much of a benefit. 

Not keeping your back in the correct position during the one-arm dumbbell row can cause strain and even nerve damage. Therefore, you need to retain proper posture throughout the exercise to prevent injury. Also, without good form, you won’t get as much of a benefit from the workout.

How to Perform One-Arm Dumbbell Row With Proper Form

Proper form is when you perform an exercise while keeping your body posed in a way that will give you the greatest results and reduce the chance of injury. 

To perform the one-arm dumbbell row with proper form, you need to pay attention to your body’s position and movements as you perform the exercise. 

  1. Place one knee on the bench. 
  2. With the arm on the same side of your body as the knee you’ve placed on the bench, hold the bench for support. 
  3. Bend over so that your torso is about parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back is straight and you have your neck aligned with your spine. If your back is not straight and you don’t have your neck aligned, you could injure yourself by pulling a muscle or causing nerve damage. 
  4. Reach straight down towards the dumbbell on the floor and hold it with a neutral grip. A neutral grip ensures you are working the correct muscles. 
  5. While keeping your chest stable, pull your shoulders back to lift the dumbbell with your shoulders instead of your arms. You should be pulling the dumbbell up towards your torso while your upper arm and elbow stay close to your body. Make sure that you do not swing the dumbbell, or the workout won’t be as effective. 
  6. Continue to pull upwards until the dumbbell touches the outer side of your rib cage. By now, your elbow will be slightly higher than your torso. 
  7. Slowly lower the dumbbell until you have your arm wholly extended. Going slow ensures that you are working your muscles to the max. 
Perform Dumbbell Row With Correct Posture

Keeping the correct posture will ensure that you are targeting the correct muscles in a controlled and safe manner. When you perform the one-arm dumbbell row, the muscles worked should be those in the upper back, as well as the upper arm. The dumbbell row is an effective exercise and one of the best back workouts to incorporate into a gym routine.

What are the Stages of the Conventional One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

To correctly perform the one arm bent-over dumbbell row, you need to understand the three stages of the exercise. 

The one-arm dumbbell row is a type of row that is great for working the back muscles, even more so than most other rows. This intermediate exercise primarily uses the back, shoulders, and arms muscles. 

  1. Starting Position
  2. Upward Movement 
  3. Downward Movement 

1. Starting Position

The purpose of the starting position in the dumbbell row one arm is to make sure that you are starting correctly. 

This stage is where you will get on the bench and grip the dumbbell. If you do this portion of the exercise correctly, you will keep any injuries from occurring as long as you aren’t using weights that are too heavy. 

The most common mistake made in this step is not keeping the back in a neutral position. When you do the dumbbell one arm lat row, you need to be bent over with your back about parallel to the ground and your spine straight. You should also keep your neck in line with your spine. 

You should also keep your shoulders back to ensure that you are using your back muscles instead of your arms or chest. 

2. Upward Movement 

This part of the dumbbell row one-arm exercise is where most of the work comes in because you will be lifting the dumbbell and using your muscles. 

Here, you will pull the dumbbell up to the outside of your ribcage. 

The main mistake that people make to break the one-arm dumbbell row proper form is to swing the arm when they lift up or to lift with the arms and chest. If you do either of these actions, the exercise won’t be as effective. 

So, make sure you maintain control when you lift the dumbbell upward and squeeze your shoulder blades together when you lift.

3. Downward Movement 

Continuing on, this part of the dumbbell one arm lat row finished the repetition. Therefore, you need to make sure that you maintain proper form as you bring the dumbbell back to the floor. 

People’s main mistake when performing this step is that they don’t lower the arm holding the dumbbell enough. You should have your arm extended when you bring the dumbbell back towards the floor so that you are completing the exercise. If you don’t get your arm down enough, you won’t strengthen the muscles as much as you should. 

What are the Mistakes for One-Arm Dumbbell Row Form?

To perform with good one-arm dumbbell row form, you need to ensure that your back and spine stay in a straight neutral position throughout so that you do not injure your neck or spine. 

You also need to keep your arm from swinging when you pull upwards, or you won’t maintain the one-arm dumbbell row proper form. When you swing your arms, you are not utilizing your back muscles as you should. 

Furthermore, to keep the conventional one-arm dumbbell form, you need to use your back muscles instead of your arms. You will know if you are using your arms because you will feel a burning in your biceps before you feel anything in your back since your back muscles are much stronger than your arms. Read more One-Arm Dumbbell Row Mistakes

How to Determine Proper Weight for One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

To determine the proper weights for the dumbbell one-arm lat row, you should perform a short test. 

To begin, you should pick your starter weight. To start, women should choose a 5-10 pound dumbbell, while men should choose 10-20 pounds. 

With your dumbbell, perform between 14 and 22 bicep curls. If you can easily make it to 22, then try again with a weight that is five pounds heavier and continue increasing if you need to. If you can’t make it to 14 or your muscles hurt a lot, pick a weight that is five pounds lighter and decrease more if needed. 

What is the Importance of Grip for One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

When you do the one-arm dumbbell row exercise, you should be using a neutral grip. A neutral grip is when you have your inner wrist pointed towards the weight bench. 

A neutral grip is used in the conventional one-arm dumbbell row because it works the lats. A pronated grip, conversely, will target the scapula retractors. 

When you use the neutral grip, the one-arm dumbbell row benefits the lat muscles. Read Grip Strength to learn more about the grip.

Which Muscles are Involved While Performing One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

The one-arm dumbbell row muscles include the trapezius, infraspinatus, teres minor and major, latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, brachialis, and brachioradialis. 

For the most, the one-arm dumbbell row benefits the lats if you do the exercise correctly. However, you will also work other back muscles and muscles in the shoulders and the arms to a certain degree. 

Just remember that a dumbbell with one arm upright row will not work the same muscles as the bent-over row, so make sure you are performing the correct exercise. 

How to Do One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

To dominate the one-arm dumbbell row, you need to know each of the steps so that you can keep proper form. 

  1. To the Right of Your Weight Bench, Take a Position
  2. With Your Palm Facing In, Hold a Dumbbell In Your Right Hand
  3. For Support, Place Your Left Knee and Left Hand On Top Of the Bench
  4. Allow Your Right Arm to Dangle Down and Forward a Little 
  5. Pull Your Abdominals In and Bend Forwards From the Hips to Create a Natural Arch in Your Back
  6. To Align Your Neck with the Rest of Your Spine, Tilt Your Chin Toward Your Chest 
  7. Pull Your Right Arm Up to the Point Where Your Elbow Points to the Ceiling
  8. Slowly Lower the Weight Back Down 

1. To the Right of Your Weight Bench, Take a Position

During this step, you should start with your feet shoulder-width apart. This stance will give you more stability as you begin the one-arm one-leg dumbbell row. 

2. With Your Palm Facing In, Hold a Dumbbell In Your Right Hand

You need to keep your palm in so that you have a neutral grip. If you do not have a neutral grip, you will not be working out your lats. 

You should have completed the bicep curl test to find the right weight for you, but overall if you cannot finish your reps, then your weight is too heavy. Conversely, if you don’t feel any difficulty exercising, you need a heavier weight. 

If you are doing a one-arm dumbbell row alternative, you may use a pronated grip. 

3. For Support, Place Your Left Knee and Left Hand On Top Of the Bench

Here, you should have your left hand directly under your left shoulder and your left knee directly under your left hip. Keeping this position will ensure that you remain stable throughout the one-arm dumbbell row. 

4. Allow Your Right Arm to Dangle Down and Forward a Little 

Allowing your right arm to dangle down and slightly forward for one arm dumbbell row bodybuilding will ensure that your arm starts in the proper position so that you are completing an entire repetition. 

When you get in this position, ensure that your torso does not rotate and that your shoulder does not droop. 

5. Pull Your Abdominals In and Bend Forwards From the Hips to Create a Natural Arch in Your Back

Contracting your abdominals is called bracing and will help to stabilize your spine during the workout. Keeping the spine stable and in a natural position will help to prevent injury or nerve damage to the backbone. 

Your torso should be about parallel to the floor when you bend over in the one-arm dumbbell row exercise. 

6. To Align Your Neck with the Rest of Your Spine, Tilt Your Chin Toward Your Chest 

You also want to keep your neck aligned with your spine to keep the one-arm dumbbell row form for bodybuilding because a strained neck can easily become injured. 

Tilting your chin in towards your chest will help you keep your neck in line with your spine. 

7. Pull Your Right Arm Up to the Point Where Your Elbow Points to the Ceiling

Suppose you pull your right arm up to exactly where your elbow points towards the ceiling, then you are moving through the complete range of movement for the one-arm dumbbell row exercise. Failing to move through the whole exercise will mean that you are not keeping proper form, and your one-arm dumbbell row will not be as effective. 

8. Slowly Lower the Weight Back Down 

To keep proper one-arm dumbbell row form, you need to move slowly through your exercise. When you move slowly, you will make sure that the muscles you are working on remain contracted and under tension for a more extended amount of time, which will strengthen the one-arm dumbbell row muscles more. 

What are the One-Arm Dumbbell Row Challenges?

A one-arm dumbbell row challenge is a way to test your improvement. To do the one-arm dumbbell row and EMOM test, you will complete a certain number of reps within sixty seconds. Then, you use the remainder of that sixty seconds to rest. Your goal for this challenge is to keep raising the number of reps you can do in one minute. 

To do the one-arm dumbbell row and GVT, you will need to do ten sets of ten. GVT stands for German Volume Training, and bodybuilders use it to quickly gain as much muscle as possible. 

To test the 1RM with the one-arm dumbbell row, you need to determine how much weight you can lift while only doing one rep of the exercise. You can track your progress by seeing how much weight you can lift each time you attempt the exercise. 

What are the One-Arm Dumbbell Row Variations?

The one-arm dumbbell row variations are alternatives to the one-arm dumbbell row. There are seven alternative exercises for the one-arm dumbbell row.

  1. Kneeling Single-Arm Dumbbell Row: This alternative exercise for the one-arm dumbbell row is almost the same as the original, except you have your leg either extended behind you or out to the side for more stability. 
  1. Symmetrical Stance Single-Arm Dumbbell Row: The symmetrical stance single-arm dumbbell row is a type of standing one-arm dumbbell row. Instead of putting your knee on the bench, you will stand facing the bench with your body bent at the hips. Then, you will place your hand on the bench and row with the other arm. This exercise helps you work on core stabilization because it takes more work to keep the abs straight. 
  1. Split Stance Single-Arm Dumbbell Row: The split stance single-arm dumbbell row is a standing one-arm dumbbell row where you place your feet in a lunge type position with one foot out in front of the other. You can then stabilize your one hand with a bench or another object while you row. This alternative to the one-arm dumbbell row helps give the lats a pre-stretch so they can do more work. 
  1. Decline Arcing Single-Arm Dumbbell Row: The decline arcing single-arm dumbbell rows are one-armed arc dumbbell rows for advanced athletes. This exercise follows the traditional dumbbell row, except you are using a declined bench. With a decline arcing dumbbell row, you can better target the lats and upper back for a more intense workout. 
  1. Split Stance Dead Stop Single-Arm Dumbbell Row: You need to use an asymmetrical stance to do the split stance dead stop single-arm dumbbell row. But instead of just bringing the weight up and down, you will bring it all the way to the floor each time. You will work the muscles more with each rep when you use this dead stop row. 
  1. Bird dog Row: The bird dog row is another one-arm one-leg dumbbell row. You need to start with your left hand and right knee on the bench or floor while pointing your left leg out behind you. You will row with your right arm and then reverse. The bird dog row helps you gain more core control while also giving you a controlled tempo and a better arm path. 
  1. RDL Row: The RDL row uses two dumbbells. With one in each hand, you will bend over and pull towards your chest. Then, stand up and repeat. This alternative exercise will target almost all the muscles on the backside of your body. You will find that when comparing the one arm vs. two arm dumbbell row, a two-arm row works more muscles at once. 

What is the Necessary Equipment for One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

Here is what you will need for the alternating one-arm dumbbell row. 

  1. Weight bench 
  2. Dumbbell 

Which Muscles Can Be Affected More From One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

The one-arm dumbbell row and bent-over dumbbell row target several muscle groups in the body, and you should know all of them. 

  1. Trapezius – Mainly the middle trapezius 
  2. Infraspinatus – This rotator of the shoulder joint is the main rotator that you move during these dumbbell rows. 
  3. Teres Minor and Teres Major- These are some of the main muscles worked in the one-arm dumbbell row. 
  4. Latissimus Dorsi – The lats are the number one muscle group exercised during the one-arm dumbbell row. 
  5. Posterior Deltoid – You should not work the posterior deltoid as much as the back muscles if you are keeping proper form. 
  6. Brachialis and Brachioradialis – You will work these arm muscles during this workout. However, you won’t work them as much as other muscles, and you shouldn’t use them too much if you are doing the row correctly. 

What is the Effectiveness of One-Arm Dumbbell Row for Muscle Growth When Compared to the Squat?

Squats do not work the same muscles as the bent-over dumbbell row one arm. The one-arm dumbbell row primarily works the upper body while squats work the lower body. 

However, both of these exercises grow muscle because when you exercise a particular area, your body recruits more motor units there, eventually increasing muscle size. 

Muscle size increases since the strain from the exercise slightly damage your muscles so they can repair themselves with more muscle fibers. For instance, when performing one-arm dumbbell rows, you primarily work your lats. The lats will break down and regrow themselves with new muscle fibers, making them stronger.

For squats, on the other hand, you will work your glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, and lower back, and these muscles will grow

You should know a few things to master the one-arm dumbbell row

  1. Performing the one-arm dumbbell row can help you do daily activities like work in the garden, move furniture, or play with your kids easier. 
  2. The bodybuilding one-arm dumbbell row helps prevent museum back.
  3. When your back becomes stronger, you will have broader shoulders and a smaller waist. 

Does One-Arm Dumbbell Row Affect the Hormones?

The dumbbell bent over one arm dumbbell row, like any strength exercise, can help balance your hormones

Strength training results in more human growth hormone, which regulates the body’s fats, tissues, muscles, and bones. Physical activity is the leading cause of HGH levels in the body at any given time, and higher HGH will help muscles grow larger. 

Does One-Arm Dumbbell Row Increase Testosterone?

Weightlifting can increase testosterone levels. Testosterone affects the male sex life, muscles, energy, and mental health. Weightlifting exercises like the bent over one arm dumbbell row are an excellent way to boost testosterone because muscle growth will trigger more testosterone. Also, more testosterone will make a person more energetic and motivated. 

Does One-Arm Dumbbell Row Affect the Mood?

Yes, any type of weight training can affect someone’s mood, including the bent-over one-arm dumbbell row. 

Notably, strength exercise decreases depression symptoms and can give you more energy. These fantastic outcomes occur because weightlifting increases endorphins, making you feel happier. 

Is One-Arm Dumbbell Row Dangerous?

Any kind of exercise can be dangerous, including the bent-over one-arm dumbbell row. However, as long as you use the correct one-arm dumbbell row form, your likelihood of injury is decreased. Also, exercise can have positive effects like lifting your mood and making you stronger. 

Is One-Arm Dumbbell Row an Olympic Lift?

No, the one-arm dumbbell row is not an Olympic lift, mainly because Olympic lifts are normally done with barbells. 

Is One-Arm Dumbbell Row a Compound Exercise?

Yes, the one-arm dumbbell row is a compound exercise because it works out different muscle groups in the back, shoulders, and arms. 

What Can Replace One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

Of course, the one-arm dumbbell row variations can replace the conventional one-arm row. However, exercises like deadlifts, pullups, pullovers and other kinds of rows can also work the lats well, just like the dumbbell bent over close grip rows on one arm. 

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