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Exercise of the month: one-arm dumbbell row

The One Arm Dumbbell Row is helpful for strengthening the back muscles, along with working the shoulders and arms.

Primary muscles worked include the trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, biceps, and latissimus dorsi. Smaller assisting muscles include the infraspinatus (one of four rotator cuff muscles), and teres major, which acts as an internal rotator and adductor of the arm.

Starting position: Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and leaning forward place your free hand on your left knee for support. For proper form, your left hand should be directly under your shoulder, and left knee in line with the ankle. Do not allow the back to round and engage the abdominal muscles to help stabilize the spine. During the exercise, look straight ahead and do not allow your torso to rotate.

Strengthening phase: Slowly lift the dumbbell upward until the upper arm is parallel to the floor. As you are lifting, keep your arm close to the side of your body and spinal column in alignment. When you have reached full range of motion, pause, and then slowly return to starting position.


  • Safety should be your first priority when working out. If you have medical conditions or existing injuries, its always best to get clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • For variety, you can perform rows by using resistance bands, which are a convenient alternative to dumbbells, especially when traveling. Positioning the band around any stable object allows for performing either a single-arm or double-arm row, seated or standing.
  • You can also perform a single-arm dumbbell row using a bench. In this case, place the left knee and left hand on the bench to support your body weight, dumbbell in right hand.
  • If you are uncomfortable using dumbbells, most gyms have machines designed specifically for doing rows. Typically, equipment will be labeled with a description of how to perform the exercise.
  • Variations to grip and positioning the arms further away from the body can be applied when performing rows to work muscles differently. If you are a beginner, seek the advice of a professional or use a spotter who has experience with strength training to help ensure proper form.

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