The single-arm dumbbell row is an effective alternative to the classic barbell row or machine row, especially in times when we are more than ever dependent on dumbbells. In terms of execution, the dumbbell row seems simple, but execution errors are lurking, perhaps even more than with the barbell row. For example, many find it more difficult to achieve a good mind-muscle connection with the upper back muscles. This is often due to incorrect execution. Below are the most common dumbbell row mistakes.
1. NOT USING A FULL ROM
As with any exercise, the one-armed row requires a full range of motion (ROM). Only in this way do you appeal to most muscle fibers and only in this way can you really feel your back muscles working.
For a full ROM, you need to create a deep stretch, so push the dumbbell dumbbell down as far as you can. To do this, the shoulder blades move outwards and forwards. That looks like this:
A common mistake with the dumbbell row is to keep the shoulder blades in position, so you can’t do a deep stretch. If you’re more comfortable keeping the shoulder blades together, you should choose another row exercise, such as cable row or barbell row.
Another mistake is not raising the dumbbell all the way, which means that a bit of ROM is also lost.
Finally, it’s important that you use the same ROM for every rep — this is the only way to reliably measure your progress. An aid to let the dumbbell touch your body when you are upstairs, always in the same place, for example the chest (when you mainly want to train the middle of your upper back) or the hip (when you mainly want to train the lats).
Below you see a full ROM where the chest is tapped.
2. TOO MUCH BODY ENGLISH
Cheating is easy with the dumbbell row: just throw your whole body into the fight:
We are not saying that you should keep your torso completely still, because that is certainly not necessary with a correct execution. But don’t overdo it. Looks impressive, that huge dumbbell, but if you have to cheat on every rep, you’re simply using too much weight.
3. PULLING WITH THE ARMS
With the dumbbell row, and any row, you mainly train the muscles in the top of your back. Those are the muscles that have to do the work. Then also raise the dumbbell by activating those muscles, not by raising your arm, as happens below. Your arm muscles, especially the biceps, should be just auxiliary muscles in this exercise.
4. NO CONTROLLED ECCENTRIC PHASE
You often see that the dumbbell is ‘dropped’ down, especially when it concerns a heavy weight:
As a result, you miss a lot of tension on the muscles in the oh so important eccentric (negative) phase. You don’t have to do this phase excessively slowly, but you do need to be controlled. That means you bring the dumbbell down slowly, in the spectrum of one to three seconds. So:
5. LOOKING ASIDE
In itself it is good that you want to check in the mirror whether you are doing the exercise correctly:
But if you do that constantly, you get pain in your neck. Your head should remain in a neutral position throughout the exercise.
6. FAILURE ON THE GRIP
With the dumbell row you only have one arm and hand that has to bear the total weight. It is possible that your set will fail because of a lack of grip strength and not because your back muscles give out. To prevent that, it is best to use versa grips.
7. USING TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE WEIGHT
For this exercise, use a weight that allows you to do around ten reps, or at least in the range of 5 to 15 reps. Then you can perform the exercise heavily without having to sacrifice form and technique.
Below is the correct implementation again, taking into account all these seven points: