How to Get a Bigger Back with this ONE exercise?

Today, I will teach you how to Dumbbell One Arm Row.  DB One Arm Row is an effective exercise for the Back.  Depending on how we execute the exercise, the common way to do the exercise is to train our Lat.  Others parts like forearm, Biceps, Rear Deltoid, Mid Back are also involved.  Today, we will go deep into the tutorial on how to make the exercise more effective.


First, The DB One Arm Row is a close grip version, not wide grip.  Close Grip: have two common ways/execution.

  • Version 1: Pull Backward.
  • Version 2: Row with Curve.


Our focus today is the first one.  Version 1.  You must know that this exercise is a Lats-focus exercise, not Mid Back/Retraction exercise.  What really matters is the squeeze/feeling of your Lats.  The tighter/sorer you feel, the better.  If you can’t feel your Lats, but instead, Forearm/Biceps have intense feeling,  then you are probably doing this wrong.


Lats Activation

First, we need to learn how to Active your Lats with Row-like Posture.  Row: Pull Back movement.  The best positioning for the arm is about core-height.  When you are pulling, keep your chest out, shoulder depressed & retracted.  Note that, we are not focusing on the Retraction, so the retraction should not be too intense.  It feels like when you are pulling, just push your chest out.  If you are doing it right, you can feel the intense feeling with/without weight or cable.  When you can feel it, we can move on and take a dumbbell.


Form Execution

Body Position

Let’s take a look on the execution.  DB One Arm Row needs a Bent-Over Position.  There are several ways to keep this position.  I will show you just one: One Arm Pressing on Bench, One Arm Holding Dumbbell.  Split the legs.  Keep the upper body straight and close to horizontal.  You don’t need to be completely horizontal, just get close to it.  When you are capable of this position, let’s take a look on the execution and Range of Motion.  We first watch some demonstrations before we move on to the details.


Elbow Position

The exercise is a Close Grip exercise,  Meaning the elbow/arm is near our body.  Keep the arm/elbow close to your body naturally without forcing it.  Make sure the elbow is not flare out.


Shoulder Position

Now, look at the shoulder position.  We need Chest Out, Shoulder Depressed and Retracted.  Retraction needs only half ways without 100% force.  Your shoulder position is crucial to the exercise.  Even if you do the range of motion/pathway right, but without proper shoulder position, your exercise is ruined.  Keep shoulder depressed and retracted.  Ensure the movement/pathway is a little bit lower/backward, close to your core position.  If too Higher: Can’t feel the Squeezing.  If shoulder falls, can’t feel the Squeezing as well.


Movement/ Range of Motion

Let’s move on to the Range of Motion and Starting/Ending Position.  Starting Position: Straight Arm without let it move too forward.  Ending Position: Your elbow don’t need too high.  Just pass your body is good enough.  Since we need Chest Out, Core tight, Retracted,  Our elbow cannot pull too backwards due to this posture.  If your elbow is way behind your back, Shoulder Internal Rotation will probably occurs.  It will probably cause you front shoulder pain for that.


At ending position, pause at top and squeeze the Lats, then slowly put down the weight.  The pathways between our starting & ending positions is a straight line with inclination.  If your pathway is not straight, or changed direction in the middle,  then the exercise will not be effective.


Meanwhile, if you watch the exercise from the back, the pathway should not be flare out nor pull inward.  It should be always in a same plane.


Ending Position: The elbow angle should be a little bit larger than 90° / near 90°.


  • If too large: Not good.
  • If too small: Not good.  Your forearm and biceps will involve a lot more.


The important part of the exercise is to feel the squeezing of your Lats.  There are also other details, but I don’t go deep today.  The above tutorial contains the most valuable information.  If you can master the execution, this exercise will be intense.  It will become the most effective exercise for your Lats.


Common Mistakes

I will include some common mistakes for your reference.  A lot of people do it wrong.  Some of them don’t know how to do it,  while some have the form-like execution without the actual squeezing.  Then it will not be effective as well.  Some common mistakes include:

  • First: Elbow too high and problem of internal rotation may occurs.  Like the pain/injury in front shoulder etc.
  • Second: The tempo, too fast tempo will diminish the effectiveness.
  • The most common one: The pathway is not perfect.  So you can’t feel the tightness/squeezing of the Lats if your pathway is not right.  You can refer to the above execution details for more reference or if you need my personal training, please visit my website for more information about PT sessions.


There are lots of common mistakes, like the Traps is too tight,  Forearm/Biceps too sore due to wrong angle.  This exercise needs practice to make it perfect.  Just practice more and rewatch this video several times for every details.  When you can feel the intense tightness of your Lats,  you are good to go.  This exercise is highly effective, and yet difficult to execute properly.


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