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How to Do a One Arm Dumbbell Row

How to Do a One Arm Dumbbell Row? The row is the go-to exercise if you’re looking to build a big or strong back. There are a few variations of one arm dumbbell row exercise that you can do, but the one that is probably best for your back is the one-arm dumbbell row. Using one arm at a time allows you to focus most of the effort on all the muscles targeted by the exercise such as your lats and traps.

There are even a few different types of dumbbell exercises that you can do with one arm. This article will walk you through some of the basics!

Performing the One Arm Dumbbell Row

There are three essential items for this. Something sturdy like a bench, and a dumbbell, and you. Take your dumbbell and place it to the right side of the bench. Then place your left leg on the bench and grab the opposite side with your left hand. Now bend over so your upper body is parallel with the ground. Tip: to do this, make sure your hand is placed directly underneath your shoulder and your knees are positioned directly under your hips. Pick up the dumbbell with your right hand and hold it with your arm extended out, making sure to keep your back straight throughout.

Now for the lifting; bring the dumbbell up to your chest by bending your elbow and lifting with your shoulder, not so much the arm itself. Remember to exhale whilst you do this. When the dumbbell reaches the top, squeeze the muscles in your shoulder and back, then slowly bring it back down and extend your arm again whilst inhaling. Do all your reps slowly until you get the hang of this, and then switch to the other side doing the exact same steps.

A good practice if you’re just starting out is to perform this exercise in front of a mirror to make sure your back is being kept straight and your arm is bending in the correct way.

One Arm Dumbbell Row exercise

Different Dumbbell Workouts

When you get comfortable with this and you feel like trying something different, there are a couple of other variations in dumbbell exercises that you can try.

Symmetrical Stance One-Arm Dumbbell Row

If you can do these one arm dumbbell row exercises with your leg on the bench, try a slightly more challenging variation! Stand facing the bench, but instead of resting your leg on it, you’ll just be resting one hand on it instead and rowing with the other. This is particularly useful if you want to increase the challenge to your core and abdominals, as you work harder against the weight to keep your torso in place whilst you lift it up and down.

Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and lean over slightly. Put one hand on the bench and keep your back straight. With much the same principle as the original one-arm dumbbell row, perform the exercise by again focusing on your back and shoulders, ensuring that it’s only those that move and not your torso.

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Common Errors and Mistakes

There can be consequences for making simple mistakes when performing any workout. While these one arm dumbbell exercises are great for your back, they also come with some risk. Read about some common mistakes so you can stop yourself from committing them:

The Weight is Too Heavy

This is a common one for most one arm dumbbell row exercises. Don’t lift above your means, especially if you’ve just started to try the exercise. Not only can you end up injuring yourself and not gaining any benefit at all, but you can also end up relying on your bigger lateral muscles too much to lift the weight, whilst the smaller stabiliser muscles get neglected. If you want a bigger back, you need to work evenly on all the muscles that comprise it. It’s better to start with a lighter weight and do more reps, focusing on squeezing the shoulders to get those muscles and the rhomboid muscles involved. Heavier weight can be gradually added after repeated sets.


Moving Your Arm and Not Your Shoulder

If you’re moving your arm to lift the dumbbell in this one arm dumbbell row exercise, you’re probably just going to end up using your biceps or triceps to lift much of the weight, then wondering why after weeks or months of performing the workout that your back isn’t growing. Picture in your head that your shoulder is the one doing all the lifting. When the dumbbell reaches the top of the movement, squeeze your back and shoulders to really put them into play. If the weight is too heavy to lift with your shoulder, move down a few sizes.

Not Keeping a Controlled Motion

A golden rule for any exercise; if you’re twisting or jerking the weight or moving in sharp, erratic motions, you are probably using too much weight and are at risk of hurting yourself. What’s more, you’re not really giving your muscles any time to do much work, thus preventing them from being used. Reps should be performed nice and slowly, keeping a smooth range of motion while you bend your elbow when bringing the dumbbell up and extending your arm again as you bring it back down. Remember to exhale when lifting it up and inhale when bringing it back down, too.


Not Keeping Your Back Straight

Please, please, please – pay attention to your back and keep it straight. Even if your body is leaning on a bench or bent over at an angle, your back and spine should be kept as straight as possible, especially when lifting a dumbbell using your back muscles. Back injuries are not fun.


How to Do a One Arm Dumbbell Row? Every exercise comes with risks, but as long as you are taking the proper precautions, you should be fine doing any type of one arm dumbbell row. It really can’t be overstated enough how helpful they are for growing your back muscles and how much better they are for them compared to some other rowing exercises!

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