Single-Arm Row


Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions on each arm 2-3 times per week.


The muscles of the mid-back and shoulder are often imbalanced, causing them to be stronger in the upper shoulder than the middle back. This exercise challenges the core by forcing you to keep the back straight and activates the muscle below the shoulder blade when you draw the elbow back and across the body.


Hold a free weight in one hand and brace the other on a stable surface that is between knee and waist height. The brace hand should be directly under the shoulder. Your trunk should be parallel to the ground, with the back straight, the pelvis neutral, and the hips and shoulder facing directly towards the ground. Stagger your legs so that the leg on the side that you are holding the weight is back. You should be looking down so that the neck is natural.

To initiate the movement, keep your grip on the weight lose and imagine pulling back and across the body with your elbow. Focus on using the shoulder blade to move the weight rather than the arm. Squeeze the shoulder blade back and down, while pulling the elbow until it is level with your body. As you rais the weight, pull it out away from your body as if aiming your elbow towards the middle of your back, rather than straight up towards the ceiling.

Make sure you keep the trunk parallel to the ground, the pelvis and neck neutral, and the hips and shoulders square to the ground.

Once you have reached the top position, slowly lower the weight through the same arc to the bottom position, and repeat.

Common Mistakes

• Lifting the weight using the muscles of the upper shoulder and neck. For most people, these muscles are easier to engage than the muscles of the mid back that we are trying to work with this exercise, so you will need to focus to make sure you are not engaging them too much. To do this, think about keeping the shoulder away from the ear, your grip on the weight loose, and pulling down, back, and across the body with your elbow, as you lift the weight.

• Not maintaining a neutral spine during the exercise. Try not to round the upper back, arch the owr back, or extend the neck during this exercise. The muscles of the mid back will work much better if the spine is kept in a neutral position. Keep the lower back neutral using the Drawing In exercise, straighten the upper back by performing this exercise next to a mirror, and look down at all times to avoid extending the neck.

•Twisting the trunk as you lift the weight. It is common, especially as the weight gets heavier, to twist the trunk upwards as you pull the weight upwards. This leads to less engagement in the mid-back and core. Try to keep the shoulders and hips facing directly towards the ground, and use your core to eep them there as you pull up for the best effect.

Progression Threshold

Continue to use this exercise as part of your routine.