A thorough explanation of how to do one-handed rowing to train your back muscles, as well as the effective weight and number of repetitions


One-handed rowing is a typical exercise that uses dumbbells. Some people may have the following questions about one-handed rowing:

  • What equipment do I need?
  • How do you do it specifically?
  • What parts of the body can be trained with one-handed rowing?

One-handed rowing is a training that can train a wide range of back muscles. Learn the correct way to use dumbbells and form to get the ideal back!

Parts of the body trained by one-handed rowing and its effects

Parts of the body trained by one-handed rowing and its effects

One-handed rowing is one of the dumbbell row exercises in which a dumbbell is pulled up. The dumbbell row performed with one hand is called one-handed rowing because the movement is similar to the English word "rowing."

This is a recipe that is easy to make at home, so be sure to remember it.

List of parts that can be trained

One-handed rowing trains a wide range of muscles from the back to the arms and stomach, so it is a popular exercise not only for bodybuilders, but also for athletes such as baseball and soccer players.

By training a wide range of muscles in your upper body, you can create a beautiful inverted triangle shape. Building muscles in a balanced way increases the calories your body burns, which can also have a dieting effect.

Parts of the body that one-handed rowing works on

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboid muscles
  • Teres major
  • Erector spinae
  • Deltoid
  • Biceps
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Biceps femoris


The latissimus dorsi, which makes up a large part of your back, is a muscle you want to train in particular with one-handed rowing. By training the latissimus dorsi, you can increase the thickness and width of your entire back.

The trapezius and rhomboid muscles are the muscles used to move the shoulder blades. The trapezius muscle runs from the neck to the center of the back, and one-handed rowing can strengthen the middle and lower sections, which can also help improve your posture. Strengthening the rhomboid muscles will give the center of your back a more three-dimensional look.

The erector spinae muscles, which are trained at the same time, are muscles used to maintain posture. In terms of improving posture, you can get a similar effect to chin-ups using a pull-up bar.

The teres major is trained together with the latissimus dorsi when moving the shoulder blade by pulling the arm in. The biceps are the muscles on the front of the arm. They are used when bending the elbow. The posterior deltoid is also trained by pulling the arm in.

During one-handed rowing, you use your abdominal muscles to keep your core stable, which strengthens your abdominal muscles, including your sides.

One-handed rowing can also be expected to have an effect on the muscles of the lower body. For example, you use your buttocks to stabilize your body, so you indirectly train the gluteus maximus in your buttocks and the biceps femoris in your thighs.

Even if you are not good at weight training, you might want to consider one-handed rowing, which is effective for the whole body.

Other benefits you can expect besides strength training

One-handed rowing has other benefits besides toning your body through muscle training. When your muscles get bigger, blood flow improves, which can help relieve stiff shoulders. If you suffer from stiff shoulders due to desk work, one-handed rowing may help.

In addition, muscle hypertrophy also has the benefit of being effective for weight loss. It also increases your basal metabolism, which helps to alleviate poor circulation in your daily life.

Proper form for one-handed rowing

Proper form for one-handed rowing

We will explain the correct training form for one-handed rowing. By applying pressure to the right places, you can train your body efficiently while preventing injury.

There are standing training methods that can be done while standing, but in this article we will introduce a method that uses a standard bench.

Form 1: Starting position

For one-handed rowing, you will need dumbbells and a training bench. Choose dumbbells that are heavy enough to lift and a bench that is wide enough to suit your body type. Stretch before training to prevent injury.

Start by standing on one side of a bench and placing your opposite knee and hand on the bench. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Bend your standing leg slightly to maintain a stable position. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and hang your arm straight down. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your back and neck long.

Form 2: Lifting the dumbbells

As you lift the dumbbells, focus on your back muscles. As you exhale, bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells toward your sides.

Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and bring your upper arms close to your body. Lift your arms while twisting them, imagining that you are pulling your shoulder blades together, and feel your latissimus dorsi and rhomboid muscles contract.

The key is to pull the dumbbells with your entire back, not with your arms. Be careful not to shrug your shoulders, and avoid putting strain on your lower back and neck. Pull the dumbbells up to your side and hold them for a moment.

If it works on your neck or shoulders, your shoulders may be stiff and you may not be able to train the areas you want to target. Stick your chest out and raise the angle of your chest and neck so that you are looking forward. If this is difficult, consider using lighter dumbbells.

Form 3: Lower slowly and repeat

When lowering the dumbbells, inhale and slowly return the dumbbells to their starting position. It is important not to rush the movement and to control the speed. When lowering, stop when your elbows are not fully extended.

Once you have returned to the starting position, repeat the lifting motion.

Tips for one-handed rowing

Tips for one-handed rowing

Here are some tips to improve the efficiency of one-handed rowing. The effectiveness will change depending on how you grip the dumbbells, so be sure to check it out.

Tip 1: Be aware of your posture

Maintaining good posture will help you train your back muscles efficiently. Rather than focusing on speed or using heavy dumbbells, pay attention to the correct form. When pulling up the dumbbells, pull them up to the side of your stomach and lift your body slightly at the same time to increase the effectiveness.

Raise your head so that your gaze is looking forward rather than at the floor, and be aware that your centre of gravity is kept in the centre of your torso, not at an angle.

Tip 2: Be aware of the strength of your force

Always be aware of working your back muscles. Grip the dumbbells lightly and pull them up with your back muscles. Conversely, gripping the dumbbells with all your strength and lifting them with the strength of your shoulders and arms will not work the muscles that one-handed rowing targets.

A thumbless grip is an effective way to reduce the difference in grip strength. By reducing the strain on your grip, you can focus on your back muscles. Also, by turning your hand holding the dumbbell inward, you can work your back muscles more naturally.

To prevent left-right imbalance in training, if you have different grip strengths on the left and right sides or if it is difficult to handle dumbbells of the same weight, it is a good idea to use power grips to keep the balance between your hands. By using power grips, you can make the most of your back muscles without relying solely on your grip strength.

Tip 3: Pay attention to your breathing

Proper breathing will increase the efficiency of your training. When lifting dumbbells, exhale while internally rotating (rolling inward) to draw your shoulder blades together and effectively train your latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles.

As you lower the dumbbells, inhale to control the speed of the movement, lengthening the muscles and maintaining tension.

Common mistakes when rowing with one hand

Common mistakes when rowing with one hand

We will explain the form that beginners tend to make, mistakes in how to do it, and points to be careful of. If you do one-handed rowing with incorrect form, you will put strain on your arms, shoulders, and waist, and you will not be able to train your back, which is the main muscle, efficiently.

Mistake #1: Rounding your back

The first is that your back will be rounded. If your back is rounded, the target muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and trapezius will not be worked, and you will not get the training effect.

Also, lifting dumbbells with a rounded back puts strain on your lower back and increases the risk of lower back pain. Keep your shoulder blades together, chest out, and back straight.

As a countermeasure, tighten your core and be conscious of not curving your waist while moving. By straightening your back, you can increase the efficiency of your training and reduce the risk of injury. Training in the wrong posture is not only pointless, but it can also be dangerous, so be careful.

Mistake #2: Using Dumbbells That Are Too Heavy

It is dangerous for beginners to suddenly try to lift heavy weights, such as 100kg dumbbells, as they will not be able to maintain the correct form and will not put strain on the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, or trapezius muscles.

Using dumbbells that are too heavy can lead to incorrect training posture, increasing the risk of muscle pain and injury. It also puts extra strain on the core and shoulders, making the lower back and shoulders more likely to suffer.

Start with light weights and make sure you master your form, then gradually increase the weight to avoid unnecessary soreness and injury.

Mistake #3: Using Momentum to Lift the Dumbbells

Do not lift the dumbbells relying on momentum. If you lift the dumbbells relying on momentum with your arms alone, you will only use your forearms and triceps, and will not be able to fully train the latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles that you are actually trying to train.

Lifting with your arms also puts unnecessary strain on your shoulders and elbows, which can lead to pain and injury. Excessive strain on the triceps and forearms in particular can make it difficult to continue training in the long term.

If you notice your arms or shoulders are sore after a workout, check your form.

Number of repetitions and routines to increase the efficiency of one-handed rowing

Number of repetitions and routines to increase the efficiency of one-handed rowing

Aim to do 8 to 12 one-handed rowing repetitions for one set, 3 sets per day. Take about 3 minutes between each set to allow you to breathe and maintain proper form.

Increase the weight, repetitions, and sets while making sure you maintain proper form.

Training two to three days a week is optimal - your muscles need time to recover, so training every day won't improve your results.

Dumbbell weight and skill level for one-handed rowing

Dumbbell weight and skill level for one-handed rowing

You may be wondering how much weight dumbbells are best for you. The average weight for men is said to be 10kg, and for women, 7kg.

Below, we have summarized the recommended weights for eight rowing repetitions, based on your level of fitness, assuming you weigh 70kg.

  • 10kg: Beginner
  • 20kg: One step away from beginner status
  • 25kg: Beginner
  • 30kg: Beginner+
  • 40kg: Intermediate
  • 50kg: Advanced
  • 60kg: Elite

If you start out with a heavy weight, you won't be able to maintain proper form, so gradually increase the weight depending on your level.

Equipment needed for one-handed rowing

Equipment needed for one-handed rowing

The equipment needed for one-handed rowing is a dumbbell and a bench. No special machines are required.

You can use a chair or other item as a substitute for a bench, but in this article we recommend using a stable bench.

Equipment 1: Dumbbells

Dumbbells are essential for one-handed rowing to apply stress to your arms. If you just want to apply stress, you can use cables, tubes, or kettlebells instead, but at Uchino Gym we recommend the QuickDraw™︎ adjustable dumbbells, which are easy to grip and can also be dropped.

≫ QuickDraw™ Adjustable Dumbbells

Equipment 2: Workout bench

It's a good idea to choose a training bench with other training options in mind. Uchino Gym recommends an adjustable bench that allows you to freely change the angle. This will increase the variety of exercises that use dumbbells and benches, such as incline dumbbell curls.

Using an adjustable bench will increase the number of exercises you can incorporate, allowing you to train your entire body thoroughly.

≫ 15 ways to use an adjustable bench | Recommended training exercises you can do at home

Train your back more comprehensively with one-handed rowing

One-handed rowing is a popular exercise because it not only strengthens your back muscles, but also your neck and core. Keep your back straight and move slowly, and once you get used to it, gradually increase the weight and number of repetitions of the dumbbells.

If you are looking for the dumbbells and training bench needed for one-handed rowing, be sure to check out Uchino Gym, which stocks high-quality training equipment.

≫ Uchino Gym Official Website

You may also like


Forgot your password?

Don't have an account yet?
Create account