How To Do Dumbbell Rows Like A Pro

The dumbbell row is one of indispensable exercises to target the upper-body muscles always practiced by professionals; however, unfortunately, it usually is ignored by many gymers.

To be completely honest, although it’s considered too “easy” and perhaps boring, this exercise is a great tool for the beginners or experienced gymmers. Trust me you will be astonished because of surprising results it brings to you.


Two-hand Dumbbell Rows

I’m sure that you are likely amazed that this excellent exercise is the top priority in the workouts of many athletes and celebrities:

Both Jay-Z and Beyonce training exercises include the single-arm dumbbell row as a part of their superset physical sessions.

The Lady Gaga workout, designed by Harry Pasternack, uses it to enhance her fast-paced upper body.

Jessica Biel practices Dumbbell Rows as a part of her stamina training circuits.

The Albert Pujols workout adds Dumbbell Rows to increase his back power and extension.

The Sofia Vergara workout includes this exercise to keep her waist looking gracefully thin by obtaining a good-looking V-shape.

There are a lot of dumbbell row variations, but in this article, we only focus on two popular types of this exercise are the One-arm Dumbbell Bent-over-row and Two-dumbbell Bent-over-row.

  • With Two-Arm Dumbbell Rows, you would want to go with light weights. Heavy weights are not recommended when using both hands.

One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

Let’s take a step back to examine your knowledge about the one-arm dumbbell row. In general, it, an exercise of lifting a dumbbell by one arm on the bench, is suitable for beginners to start slowly, or for those to increase your back strength.

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • You need to prepare a level bench and a dumbbell put down next to the bench.

Muscles targeted: If you perform in proper form and diminish all mistakes you might make, one-arm dumbbell rows mainly make build up upper-body muscles to be firm.

  • Main muscle: upper back.
  • Secondary muscles: lats, real delts, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, neck, shoulder.

Please go through all the starting position, safe movement and some key tips. It seems to look like a piece of cake, but believe me, it is actually a challenge for you.

The Starting Position:

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Remember these steps to perform this upper back exercise successfully with right techniques:

  • Put your one knee at the top of the bench and your hand at the end of the bench with a similar side of the body.
  • Your back should be straight and parallel to the bench.
  • Put other leg out to the side to let your abdominals over the floor.
  • Get the dumbbell and keep it by your remaining hand and hold it. Simultaneously, your lower back should be without a curve. Your torso is on the opposing position of the palm of your hand.

The Movement:

  • Pull the dumbbell straight upward and parallel to your chest with an unmoving torso while the higher arm is adjacent to your side. Exhale when performing this action.
  • Move the dumbbell in straight downward to the initial posture. Inhale when performing this action.
  • Perform the motion again for a particular number of reps. And similar,
  • Change sides and set up with the hand similarly.

Safety Tips:

  • First and foremost, you should keep back in proper position.
  • Squeeze the back muscles as you reach the completely tightened posture.
  • Make sure that your power is produced by back muscles, not arms.
  • Not stagger your leg on the floor because it puts more tension on your lower back. I know this makes the weight lighter, but the exercise no longer effects. Therefore, you need to lock the leg in.
  • Notice the large gap between your body and elbow. It’s almost a 90 degree angle.
  • Use your hand as a hook and think of lifting your elbow back instead of thinking squeezing that dumbbell and putting everything into your bicep and forearm. It is an important key to really isolate lat muscles.

Two-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

If you have already developed foundation strength, the single-arm dumbbell row is one of the best absolute choices for maximizing your body development.

However, if you want to challenge yourselves more, you can set up with a variation, Two-arm dumbbell bent-over rows, to strengthen your middle back as well as other upper-body muscles.

Two-Arm Dumbbell Rows

This version uses both arms to lift a dumbbell for each hand from the ground to the stomach in a bent-forward posture and then lower dumbbells all the way down to full arm extension.

When doing this exercise, your entire back is moving, instead of one side like a one-arm counterpart. It is considered to be more professional, especially used for experienced gymers; however, the risk of trauma is higher.

Therefore, you can’t overlook some additional tips to avoid trauma as much as possible:

  • Not lift too strong dumbbells at first because you are practicing with both hands.
  • Your knees are remained with a small curve about a quarter of their initial state at the starting position. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Wear a weight belt and squeeze your lower back into it if comfortable for you.
  • Keep your back straight, your head up, buttocks and thighs steady, eyes forward throughout the whole set.
  • Pull your elbow up as high as possible without twisting your torso.

Reps And Sets For Both One-arm And Two-arm Dumbbell Rows

Dumbbell Rows

- If you are a beginner, let’s set up with 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps depending on your overall strength levels. You should increase repetitions and additional weight when you are stronger.

- For experienced lifters, you can start with 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps with increased weight to overburden muscles and raise strength and size. The weight of the dumbbells and the number of reps are based on your strength and experience.

Note: It is important to be honest with yourself and select an appropriate level because the muscles used are extremely sensitive. I’m sure that you never want to have any accidental injuries with them.


Remember to stay patient with this effective exercise, train these progression daily and finally witness your uncanny changes. Don’t forget some common mistakes which diminish your hard efforts you might make, so keep in mind to be in correct form.

If you are looking for a way to take your dumbbell rows to the next level, try to do it with occlusion training. This is a technique recommended for veterans but you can get insane gains from lifting very light weights. Read more about it here.

Before you go, please leave a comment below to discuss your progression with the exercises. Also, if you find this article helpful, please share it!


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