Today let’s take a look at a great compound exercise for your upper body; the one-arm row. There are many different ways to do row exercises for strength training. Seated rows, bent-over rows, upright rows, t-bar rows, and probably more. However, the one-arm row is particularly great for those working out at home rather than at a fully equipped gym. Also, these rows tend to employ more of your full range of motion, which gives your back and arms an awesome challenge.

To do one-arm rows (sometimes refereed to as chainsaws since the motion is similar to pulling the cord to start one), you’ll need some sort of bench or raised surface (I’ve been known to use the couch or my bed) and a dumbbell, weight plate, ankle weight, or exercise band for resistance. Household items with handles such as laundry detergent or milk jugs can work well too, and I’ve even used my American Council on Exercise personal training text book as a weight for one-arm rows in a pinch.

To start, position yourself with your left hand and left knee up on the bench so that your back is parallel to the bench and the floor. Keep your right foot on the floor and hold your weight in your right hand. Really let your right arm hang down to the side of the bench, let your shoulder dip down slightly. Complete your rows by bending your right arm as you lift your elbow straight up towards the ceiling until your elbow is all the way back and your right hand is level with your chest. As you do so, be sure to keep your back flat and parallel to the floor. You should be using your bicep, shoulder, and back muscles to lift the weight in a slow, controlled motion. Pause briefly at the top of the row, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, then switch arms and legs to complete the same number of rows to complete the set. Do 3-4 sets of this exercise.

One-arm rows are an excellent way to work your latissimus dorsi (the muscles in your upper back that give you that “V” shape) or lats, without a weight machine and without a pull-up bar. As one of the largest muscles in your body, creating strong lats makes a huge difference in your physique and posture. Doing one-arm rows will help you to prevent injuries from picking up heavy objects and strain from slouching. This exercise also helps strengthen your biceps and shoulders, helping create a strong, balanced and attractive upper body for men and women alike.

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