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Single Arm Alternating Dumbbell Row

The single arm alternating dumbbell row is a great exercise to help develop and strengthen your mid back (and lats) as well as your shoulders and biceps (front of your upper arms). This exercise is a great variation of the traditional dumbbell row and adds a different flavor to the movement.  

The key to the single arm alternating dumbbell row exercise is to really squeeze the top (contracted) part of the movement. This will really target the upper and mid-back as well as the rear deltoids (shoulders). It may take a few tries to get the feel for this exercise but keep at it and you will start to love this movement.

Start Position

Left Arm Contracted Position

Right Arm Contracted Position

Position for the single arm alternating dumbbell row

Place two dumbbells on either side of your body. Bend at the knees and pick up both dumbbells using your hands. Stand up straight and retract your shoulders back and down. Puff out your chest proud. Keep your head level and eyes forward. Bend your knees slightly.

Bend at the waist until you are just above parallel with the ground. Allow your arms to hang down towards the ground. Remember to not round your back or allow your shoulders to move towards the ground (keep the retracted).

Execution of single arm alternating dumbbell row

Row your left arm upwards until your elbow is just past your upper back. Pause for a moment and slowly allow the dumbbell to descend back to the start position. Repeat this process for your right arm. Perform for the prescribed amount of repetitions.


Breathe in as you row the dumbbell upwards and breathe our as you lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Important points for the single arm alternating dumbbell row

·         It’s important that you don’t round your back – keep it nice and straight

·         Don’t allow your shoulders to move forward – keep them retracted and in a stationary position

·         Don’t look at your feet as this will cause you to lose your balance and throw your form off

·         Remember to hold and squeeze at the top part of the movement

Video for the single arm alternating dumbbell row

Over his 30 plus years of experience, Blake Bissaillion has worked with nationally ranked body builders, power lifters and fitness professionals. In this time he has picked up volumes of applied knowledge that he openly shares with his clients. Mr. Bissaillion’s objective is to help as many beginners to weight training and fitness to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals while getting into their best possible shape. Mr. Bissaillion owns and operates Belly Be Gone, a fitness company that offers fitness and nutritional guidance and products.

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