One Arm Dumbbell Row: Strengthen Your Back Without Pain or Injury

Written by
10.4 min read

From exercise physiologists Ivan Ferran, Jamie Costello, and Jackie Gavino at the Pritikin Longevity Center, get tips on how to strengthen your back without pain or risk of injury.

Strengthen Your Back Without Pain or Injury

A well-executed one arm dumbbell row builds a strong back. It all strengthens your shoulders, upper arms, and core.

These benefits will help you perform many everyday activities with greater ease and less discomfort. You will bend, lift, and carry more effortlessly. You will work in the garden, rearrange the furniture, or roughhouse with the kids with less likelihood of stiffness, pain, or injury.

The Health Benefits of the One Arm Dumbbell Row Exercise
The One Arm Dumbbell Row exercise builds a strong back. It also strengthens your shoulders, upper arms, and core. You’ll be able to walk and stand longer without having to contend with an aching back.

Good-Bye, Museum Back

A strong back and core also means that you can walk and stand longer without having to contend with an aching back. You can stand comfortably with the cheering crowd throughout the second half, or appreciate all the paintings at the museum’s new exhibit without succumbing to museum back.

Improving Blood Flow, Burning Calories

In addition, exercising major muscles improves blood flow and burns calories. Your body composition improves as you reduce fat and build muscle. A stronger back also means broader shoulders and a trimmer waist. Yes, you’re going to like what you see in the mirror.

Pritikin Video

So let’s click on the video produced by the exercise experts at the Pritikin Longevity Center and get going! For this one arm dumbbell row exercise, you will need an exercise bench or a stable, flat surface that is just a little higher than your knee.

When you first do this exercise, use a dumbbell of moderate weight so that you can focus on technique.

One Arm Row, Step By Step

Stand alongside the bench with the weight in the hand that is away from the bench. Put your inside hand at the top of the bench for support. Then, place your inside knee on the bench and lower your back into a position where your hips, spine, neck and head are in a straight line parallel to the floor. Do not curve your spine or raise or lower your head.

Now, with the hand holding the weight, palm facing in, and the forearm at a slight angle alongside your body, slowly and smoothly raise your elbow until it is at the height of your body. Your arm should not be pulled away from your body or held too tightly against your body. Feel your scapula or shoulder blade pulling toward the center of your back. The primary focus of this exercise is strengthening your back muscles. Do not move your body to help lift the weight. When the elbow has reached the height of the body and the scapula has moved as far as possible toward the spine, slowly lower the elbow until the arm is straight.

Repeat this motion 8 to 12 times for each set. Do 2 sets for each side of the body, and repeat 3 times a week with 48 to 72 hours between sessions so that your muscles have a chance to recover.

Expert Guidance

When you are first learning the one arm row dumbbell, it is best to be observed by a companion, or, better yet, a qualified trainer to ensure that you are using the proper technique.

And always, begin with light weights. Increase the weight when you can easily do 12 repetitions.

If you’re looking for a greater challenge with increased strength and balance benefits, check out the advanced version of the chest press demonstrated in the video. Since this advanced version is done while balanced on a stability ball – a precarious adventure for many – it’s a wise idea to learn and practice with well-trained exercise instructors, like those at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

Strength Exercises | Key Benefits, Recommendations

We tend to know the benefits of cardiovascular exercises like jogging or swimming. They improve heart function and circulation. They also help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

But many of us don’t fully understand, or appreciate, the benefits of strength (also called resistance) exercises such as the one arm dumbbell row.

Strength exercises are exercises that strengthen all the major muscle groups of the body. If you do them regularly, you’ll reap huge benefits:

  • You’ll feel your muscles grow firmer and more powerful as your endurance increases.
  • Your coordination, agility, and balance improve.
  • You can better perform a myriad of daily activities – like climbing stairs, getting in and out of your car, carrying groceries, playing golf, hiking the countryside, and playing basketball with the kids. You do them all with greater ease, confidence, and joy.
  • As you increase strength and agility, you reduce the chance of falls and injuries.
  • You improve your body composition. That’s because as you build lean muscle, you reduce body fat. As you lower your percentage of body fat, you lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
  • Finally, strength training helps prevent bone loss, even in those with osteoporosis.

Along with all the above, you’ll also look and feel better. There’ll be more pep in your step.

“And your body—from calves and thighs to butt and stomach to chest and arms—will definitely look fitter and trimmer,” encourages Pritikin’s Exercise Director Jamie Costello.

“But the key to all these benefits is not just doing strength exercises, but doing them right. If done incorrectly, they could create pain and keep you from exercising. They might even cause injury, which would also put you on the sidelines,” cautions Jamie.

To accentuate the positive benefits and eliminate the negatives, “we focus on one-on-one guidance here at Pritikin,” says Jamie. “Within a week or two, our guests are noticing that their muscles are automatically falling into correct form, and they’re feeling the benefits.”

Pritikin Basic 8

In addition to the one arm dumbbell row, there are 7 other exercises that are part of the Pritikin Video Series for strengthening the body’s major muscle groups.

All 8 are:
1. Squat: When done correctly, the squat exercise not only helps you look better (who doesn’t want a nicer-looking butt?), it makes life better. That’s because squatting is a movement we use in all sorts of everyday activities.
Watch the How To Do Squats Without Knee Pain video »
2. Calf Raise: Calf raises are a great exercise for toning up legs. What’s more, calf raises train your body to maintain balance, which can help you avoid nasty falls. Watch the Calf Raises Video: How To Shape Up Your Legs Without Pain »
3. Chest Press: The chest press not only tones your chest, shoulders, and arms, it strengthens your core. But it’s really important to do the chest press correctly to avoid pain and injury.
Watch the Chest Press Video: Tone Your Upper Body Without Pain or Injury »
4. One Arm Dumbbell Row: This exercise builds a strong back. It also strengthens your shoulders, upper arms, and core. You’ll be able to walk and stand longer – at football games, at museums – without having to contend with an aching back.
5. 45-Degree Shoulder Raise: The 45-degree shoulder raise can power up your shoulder muscles. You’ll be able to do a lot of things more easily, like lifting your carry-on into the overhead bins of planes. Watch the 45-Degree Shoulder Raise Video: Powerful Shoulders without Pain
6. Reverse Fly – Scapula Retraction: The scapula retraction is a great exercise for improving your posture. The exercise experts at Pritikin recommend using bands. Essentially, you’re moving your shoulder blades (scapula) back toward your spine.
Watch the Scapula Retraction Video: Reverse Fly | Build Good Posture and Strong Shoulders Without Pain »
7. Standard Crunch: Here’s an important exercise for your core. Your Pritikin video will show you how to start with the simplest and safest movements, and from there progress to more challenging forms.
Watch the Standard Crunch Video: How To Do Crunches Without Hurting Yourself »
8. Prone Leg Lift: The prone leg lift is a superb all-purpose exercise for your lower body. It strengthens the lower back, glutes (the three muscles that make up the buttocks), hamstrings, and core. Watch the Video: How To Do Prone Leg Lifts Correctly »

At the Pritikin Longevity Center, the #1 priority is performing every type of exercise correctly to avoid pain and injury.

Scroll to Top

Are you taking or considering a medication for weight loss?

Combining the Pritikin Program with Semaglutide or other weight loss medications could potentially speed up weight loss, reduce side effects, preserve lean body mass, and support long-term metabolic health.