How to Do a Single-Arm Dumbbell Row Correctly…and Safely

A single-arm dumbbell row workout can help you get your upper body in better shape. But sometimes people make common mistakes and injure themselves after doing this

There are numerous exercises you can perform to achieve a healthy and ideal body shape and one of them is a single-arm dumbbell row workout. This workout is ideal for anyone looking to engage their upper body. To get the best result, you can discuss it further with your personal trainer to include it in your workout plans. However, if you want to do this exercise on your own, we got you covered. 

The dumbbell row is a classic upper-body workout and the common variation is the single-arm dumbbell row. In this workout, you can choose to use a bench or just your leg as the pedestal. 

What muscles did the single-arm dumbbell row work? 

This exercise not only works the biceps and triceps in the upper arm, but it also works the primary muscle group of the upper back muscles, which includes: 

  • Latissimus dorsi – the flat triangular muscle that extends from the humerus (located in the upper arm, between the elbow and shoulder) to the mid-to-lower spine, near the bottom of the rib cage 
  • Posterior deltoid – the muscle on the back of the shoulder 
  • Rhomboid – superficial muscles in the upper back that connect the scapula (shoulder blade) and upper spine 
  • Trapezius – extends from the back of the head and neck, down the spine, and out to the shoulder 


How to do the single-arm dumbbell row 

Use the leg as the pedestal

If you use your leg, you can begin it by holding the dumbbell in one hand. Take one step back into a lunge position then take one step back into a lunge. Keep your front leg bent slightly, with your knee in line with your ankle. Keep your back leg straight, lean slightly forward and put your free hand on your front thigh. Pull your belly button in towards your spine to tighten your core. This will give you a solid foundation. 

Bring the dumbbell down toward the floor until your elbow is fully extended. Keep your shoulders, hips and lower back flat in good shape. Remember, curving or arching the lumbar spine can cause pain in the low back. 

Start moving the dumbbell up by sliding your shoulder blade toward your spine. Then lift the weight up toward your torso. As your elbow goes between your ribs, keep it close to your body. 

Squeeze your shoulder blade toward the center of the back (contracting the rhomboids). At the end of the movement, the dumbbell should be in line with your chest and your elbow should be pointing up toward the ceiling. Be sure to maintain good posture through your spine, shoulders and hips. 

 Using a bench

But when you prefer to use a bench, stand one of your knees on a flat bench and you can put the other leg a little farther away. So, you have a lot of room on the bench to do this workout. 

Bend your body and place the arm closest to the bench on its seat. Some people place their same-side knee on the bench as well. Try to keep your backbone flat and not curved. This position can give the thoracic spine better positioning and keep you away from low back pain. 

Get your dumbbell and keep your other hand straight. Bend your arm’s elbow slowly and pull the dumbbell up so it’s closer to your chest. The weight is then slowly moved back to the starting position until it is just above the floor. This move keeps the back straight by using the core during the lift. Since this is an exercise for just one arm, you should do it on both sides. First, do your right arm then your left. 


Common mistakes that people make in this workout 

Don’t do this, or you might hurt yourself. 

  1. Moving the arm rather than the shoulder. Most people do this by pulling the dumbbell only with their arm. The right thing is that you can move the shoulder blade, not only the arm, to initiate the row.
  2.  Has a curved position from the back of the body. You should keep your back flat and not curved in this workout.
  3. Using too much weight. Don’t lift too much weight when you do this workout. You can start with a lighter weight to train your muscles. After you master the basic movement and can handle that weight, you can increase the weight of the dumbbell.