There are numerous variations of the dumbbell row. Here Dave demonstrates the free-standing version that we find most useful. Below we’ll have a look at exactly how to perform this exercise (and why).
One Arm Dumbbell Rows Youtube Video:
Have a look at the video first to see what the exercise should look like.
We love this exercise for the fact that you need very little equipment and you work the whole back. You can use a bench for support (placing one hand and knee on the bench), but we prefer a more natural free standing approach. It will do the most to help develop your core and improve all round strength and stability.
How to do Single Arm Dumbbell Rows
It’s important to remember to keep your back straight and to concentrate on letting it do most of the work. Though the shoulders and biceps will benefit from the exercise, we don’t want them lifting all the weight. If you’re performing these correctly you should really feel your lats coming into play.
- Place a dumbbell on the floor on your right.
- Stand with your left foot in front of you and your knee bent at not quite 90º.
- Step your right foot backwards around 2 foot, to enable you to comfortably rest your left forearm on your left knee, keeping your back straight.
- Let your right arm fall down to grab the dumbbell. You shouldn’t be reaching down with your shoulders.
- Keep your stomach tight and slowly raise the dumbbell up to your side.
- Now slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
What to Look Out For
As you can see the exercise is very simple. But like the barbell curl, it’s all about using correct form.
Don’t roll the shoulders, and really do take care to keep your torso still. To make your back do most of the work it’s important to keep the elbows tucked in and avoid any swivelling of your body through your hips. Only your lifting arm and all those back muscles should be moving!
There should be no jerky “lawn mower starting” going on. This is all about lifting weights under control. The strength is all in what you can lift slowly, not what you can cheat into submission.
You want the maximum range of movement from this exercise. So you must perform it with a weight that you can lift all the way up to your side, and lower with full control.
What is it Good For?
Well you will work your whole back, shoulders and biceps. The movement helps with your shoulder strength but also mobility, with the small rotator cuff muscles coming into play. These can often be a weak point, so its good to be giving them something to do. Performing the exercise standing ensures that you also add core stability and strength into the mix, and who doesn’t want to get their abs working without having to do crunches?
If you are struggling to perform chin-ups, these are great intermediary exercise. Once you are comfortable with these, you should find that you can now begin to do at least flex hangs and negatives, and so are on your way to becoming a chin-up expert.