Mastering The Dumbbell Row: Form Flaws, Set Up & Execution

If your goal is to have a really big and wide back, you want to integrate two types of movements into your workout routine.

One of these movements is a pulling one, starting from over your head and ending up somewhere below your neck. You can observe this movement in pull-ups and cable pulldowns. The second movement is a rowing one, where you start pulling against strong resistance from the front towards your body.

If you want to do rows, I would highly recommend the standing barbell row because of its simplicity, but also sturdiness and effectiveness, but if you’re looking for something a bit more, try the dumbbell row. You’ll have a bigger range of motion and you’ll be able to put higher intensity on individual muscle groups on your back. If you want to get the best possible results, put both of these movements in your routine.

1. How Does the One-Arm Dumbbell Row Work?


Muscles activated with the one-arm dumbbell row are your fan-shaped latissiumus dorsi muscles that go from just below your arms all the way down to the bottom of your back. These muscles carry the brunt of the force, but they do get help from your trapezius and rhomboid muscles.

When you want to start the movement, bend your hips and put one knee and the corresponding hand on a flat bench. Stand on the flood with the other leg, right next to the bench. The arm on the side of the knee should be pressing flat down on the bench, but the other one should have a dumbbell in it, hanging down to the floor with a loose elbow.

2. How Do I Perform the One-Arm Dumbbell Row?

To begin this movement, pull the dumbbell towards your midsection, and make sure to keep your elbow as close as possible as your back muscles start getting flexed. Slowly bend your arm and take your shoulder upwards. When you get to the top, your elbow should be pointing towards the ceiling and your shoulder blades should be clenched together.

Put the dumbbell down with total control – don’t just allow it to fall down. The negative matters too. Do your reps for one side of your body, then repeat the procedure on the other side as well, for the same number of reps.

3. What Should I Be Careful About With This Exercise?

When you are lifting the dumbbell, as well as when you’re putting it down, make sure that you let your shoulder move back so that your back muscles contract and extend. If this isn’t happening, you’re doing an inefficient exercise by letting the biceps muscles bear most of the load of lifting.

Also, be careful not to turn the one-arm dumbbell row into a curling exercise. This can happen when you bend your elbow a little bit more than you should, which means less than 90 degrees when you’re lifting the weight. Keep in mind that your hand is just a connection to your lats and the muscles in your middle back, and it should be pointed towards the flood for greatest effectiveness.

4. Can I Change It Up?

Well, this row is usually done like this, with a hand and a leg on a bench, but you don’t really have to have the bench around, which means you can do this just as well with two legs on the floor and bent over. Grab the top of a short-back bench or a rack as you complete the exercise.

5. What Good Is This and How Can I Improve It?

Easy, the one-arm dumbbell row has tons of uses. You can do it when you’re starting your back workout and you can do it as hard as possible at that time, with only 5 to 8 reps per set, but you can also keep it until you’re done with other exercises and then dedicate more time to it and take care of more details with greater attention, with lighter weight and more reps. This is basically either an anchor exercise or an ancillary move. If you want to boost your technique, you can do some drop sets with one-arm dumbbell rows.

Start with a relatively heavy dumbbell, do reps until you reach muscle failure, then leave those weights and take some lighter ones. Do this until your form diminishes to the point of it being impossible to perform this exercise adequately. If you want to try a less orthodox approach to all this, try doing a one-arm row with a barbell instead of a dumbbell. This will challenge your balance and a bunch of other things, but it’s also noteworthy that it will create a lot of unique lines of pull for your new exercise. It will be better and more effective too.

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