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Health and Fitness Tips

One-Arm Bent-Over Row

The one-arm bent-over row is crucial for a body-sculptor development of the latissimus dorsi and mid-back muscles, especially when both neutral and pronated grips are used.

The one-arm bent-over row is typically used to develop the lower lats. By moving through a full range of motion and modifying the technique slightly, you can also work the upper portion of the lats and the middle-back muscles.

Major Muscles Involved
The latissimus dorsi and teres major are assisted by the rear deltoid, rhomboid and middle trapezius. The lower portion of the latissimus dorsi- a large muscle covering the sides of the middle and lower back – is involved the most, with the upper portion coming into play at the end of the movement. Located alongside the upper portion of the latissimus dorsi, the teres major has basically the same function as the lats. The rear deltoid is a key muscle when a pronated grip is used, with involvement in the teres minor and infraspinatus. In the shoulder girdle, the rhomboid lies underneath the trapezius in the middle of the upper back; the middle trapezius runs from the base of the skull through the 12th thoracic vertebrae.

Execution of One-Arm Bent-Over Rows

  • Stand alongside an exercise bench in a wide stance. The leg closest to the bench should be in-front and your outside leg behind.

  • Lean forward from your hips while maintaining normal spinal curvature until your back is almost parallel to the floor. Bend your knees as necessary for balance.

  • Grasp a dumbbell in your outside hand and place the hand closest to the exercise bench on the bench for the upper-body support.

  • Use a neutral grip, with your palm facing toward your body. Let your working arm hang straight down and relax your shoulder.

  • Inhale slightly more than usual and hold your breath as you pull the weight up by bending and raising your elbow as high as you can, well above the level of your back.

  • After maximally raising your elbow, raise your shoulder as high as possible to get a maximum contraction of the rhomboid, middle trapezius and upper latissimus dorsi.

  • Contract your back muscles hard when you reach the uppermost position and hold for a second.

  • Exhale as you return to the start position. Repeat the movement for 10 repetitions and a total of 3 sets.

Workout Tips
  • Initiate the upward movement with a vigorous pull, especially when using heavy weights, to ensure a full range of motion.

  • Avoid rotating your torso as you raise your shoulder: isolate the action to your working arm and shoulder.

  • Don't risk injury by using excessively heavy weight. If you do, your range of motion is compromised and you'll have to jerk the weight to overcome its resting inertia.

  • Keep your back horizontal, with normal spinal curvature. The muscles involved work fully against gravity in this position. If your torso is at an angle to the bench, execution and muscular involvement change.

  • To emphasize the lower lats, use a neutral grip and keep your arm (elbow) alongside your body during execution. Use a pronated grip (palm down) to emphasize the auction of the middle back and upper lats.

  • You shouldn't place the knee closest to the bench on the bench for support. When your inside knee and hand are on the bench, the back muscles relax, making normal curvature of the spine difficult to maintain. As a result, stability decreases and your chances of injury increase.

  • Keep your back straight and stationary throughout the movement. While some motion is inevitable, try to minimize it. Don't let the slide you're training drop toward the floor. The whole idea is to stretch and contract your lat, not twist your back.

  • For variety and full muscular development, do sets with neutral and pronated grips.

The one-arm bent-over row is a great way to develop the lower lats. Watch your form and control your movements - and your results will be wonderful!

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed