Learn the Single-Arm Cable Row for a Strong, Symmetrical Back

You don’t usually get to see your personal back muscles. However that doesn’t low cost the truth that your again is without doubt one of the most necessary elements of your physique for efficiency within the health club and on the bodybuilding stage.

Whether or not you are attempting to raise a one-rep max or exhibit a thick lat unfold to the chalk-covered mirror, you definitely don’t wish to neglect training your back. To totally develop these muscular tissues, you’ll wish to add loads of rows to your coaching program.

 A person doing a single high cable row.
Credit score: alessandro guerriero / Shutterstock

The one-arm cable row is a staple in the case of fleshing out your again muscular tissues. This can be a significantly useful transfer while you’re attempting to iron out any power or muscular imbalances between the perimeters of your physique. Right here’s the whole lot it is advisable to learn about do the single-arm cable row — and why you need to.

Editor’s Observe: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, but it surely shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or food regimen, it’s all the time a good suggestion to seek the advice of with a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website are usually not meant to be used as analysis, prevention, and/or therapy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a professional medical skilled.

Do the Single-Arm Cable Row

The one-arm cable row is precisely what it appears like — a cable row that you simply’ll be doing with only one facet. For this train, you can be coaching one arm at a time utilizing a cable machine. When doing a row, you’re basically shifting your arm nearer to your physique, virtually like rowing a ship. Right here’s precisely how to do that row variation.  

Step 1 — Set Up Your Machine

Step #1 of the single arm cable row.
Credit score: Match Collectively Private Coaching / Youtube

Ensure your machine of selection fits your wants. Most machines are adjustable, so discover a place that’s comfy for you. 

Plant your feet firmly on the ground in an athletic stance — your toes hip-to-shoulder-width aside and your knees barely bent. Set the pulley at chest top. Maintain a D-handle in a single hand and again right away from the anchor level. Your arms must be absolutely prolonged (straight) so that there’s only a little bit of pressure from the cable when you attain your beginning place. 

Sq. your shoulders and level your toes towards the machine.

Coach’s Tip: When you’re performing a seated version of this exercise, be aware that some machines may have a footrest so that you can relaxation your toes whereas others may have you relaxation your toes on the ground. 

Step 2 — Provoke The Row

Step #2 of the single arm cable row.
Credit score: Match Collectively Private Coaching / Youtube

Ensuring to plant your decrease physique firmly onto the ground, discovering three factors of contact by means of your feet. Brace your core

Pull your shoulder blades down and again to “load” your again. Goal to really feel some pressure round your armpit. From there, firmly grasp the deal with and begin pulling it in the direction of your physique.

Preserve your elbow good and shut. It could virtually graze the facet of your ribs as you row. That is the concentric portion of the raise.

Coach’s Tip: When you’re having bother getting the full range of motion, attempt to change the angle of your grip. This will really feel extra pure in your physique and help you transfer additional.

Step 3 — Squeeze

Step #3 of the single arm cable row.
Credit score: Match Collectively Private Coaching / Youtube

When your elbow can’t return additional with out dropping pressure in your again or rotating your torso, you’ve reached your finish vary of movement. Once you attain this level, squeeze your shoulder blade and maximally contract your again muscular tissues.

Coach’s Tip: Ensure your hips and shoulders stay squared and stage all through the raise. Don’t let the load yank your arm ahead or shift your physique’s place. Keep away from twisting to the facet to artificially prolong your vary of movement.

Step 4 — Launch and Information

Step #4 of the single arm cable row.
Credit score: Match Collectively Private Coaching / Youtube

That is the eccentric portion of the raise. Shifting slowly and with management, reverse the motion in order that your arm assumes the beginning place of the motion. Slowly unravel your shoulder blades and arm again to resting place. As soon as once more, your elbow could graze the facet of your ribs.

Coach’s Tip: Don’t simply let go of the load — the rep isn’t over. When you hear the weights clanking loudly throughout this step, it’s a telltale signal you aren’t controlling the eccentric portion of the row. Transfer slowly and with management.

Single-Arm Cable Row Units and Reps

Now you recognize how to row — however how a lot do you row? This largely will depend on your goals. Manipulating the reps and sets of an exercise can affect the kind of efficiency variations you reap out of your onerous efforts. 

You possibly can simply add or take away weight from this train. Listed below are some basic ideas for units and reps primarily based in your targets. 

  • For Muscle Mass: To build muscle mass you wish to push quantity. You received’t be utilizing as a lot weight as you’ll for constructing maximal power, but it surely ought to nonetheless be difficult while you attain the ultimate reps of your set. Goal to really feel your muscular tissues firing on each rep. Carry out 4 units of 10 reps, leaving two or three reps within the tank every set.
  • For Power: To pursue strength, the main focus is on maximizing your load. You wish to use extra weight for this and do fewer reps. Goal to raise essentially the most quantity of weight attainable with good method. Do 5 units of three reps, with one or no reps left within the tank.
  • For Endurance: When coaching for endurance, your focus is on reps. You may be using lighter weights however shall be performing considerably increased repetitions. Set a timer for 10 minutes with a weight you possibly can simply do for 20 reps. Carry out 10 to fifteen reps at the beginning of every minute. Relaxation for the rest of the minute. Repeat this cycle for your entire set.

Frequent Single-Arm Cable Row Errors

Though the single-arm cable row is fairly easy, it would be best to avoid these common mistakes. Even if in case you have been doing rows for some time, it’s nonetheless necessary to mirror on your technique and see if there’s something you possibly can enhance upon. 

Going Too Heavy

When you discover you possibly can’t carry out your entire rep — together with the eccentric portion — with strict management, you’re doubtless going too heavy. When the weight is sufficient to tug your working facet ahead otherwise you really feel like it’s a must to yank your working facet again to finish your reps, the load might be too heavy.

Concern not — the repair is easy. Begin with a decrease weight and work your manner up. You don’t want the heaviest weight to make progress.

Shifting Too Quick

One other frequent mistake goes too quick. It may be tempting to hurry by means of your units, however you are attempting to build muscle, which takes time. To start out, you possibly can rely to a few on each the concentric and eccentric parts of the raise to decelerate the tempo of the exercise

Slowing down will enable you really feel the individual back muscles working as you carry out the raise. The elevated time below pressure will assist spur extra muscle progress and likewise enable you domesticate the self-discipline and mind-muscle connection it is advisable to maximize your efficiency.

Utilizing Too A lot Arm

So many gymgoers need massive arms — however this isn’t the train to get them. It’s frequent for inexperienced persons with lesser proprioception (feeling) of their again muscular tissues to primarily use their arms to row as a substitute of their again. However you wish to be initiating and controlling the rep with your back, not your biceps.

Credit score: Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock

A straightforward repair for that is to consider squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades as you row. This and comparable cues will enable you develop that connection along with your again. Bear in mind to pull your shoulders back and down as you row.

Utilizing Too A lot Physique

If your torso is quickly whipping round whereas doing the single-arm cable row, it’s doubtless not a row anymore. This will occur while you use an excessive amount of weight and while you go too quick, so attempt adjusting a few of these issues first. 

In any other case, guarantee that you’re steady and correctly grounded when performing the row. You’ll discover which you can’t assist however use your physique in the event you don’t have a stable basis to tug from. Plant your toes firmly dealing with the road of pull (the place the cable is hooked up at its anchor level). Preserve your knees barely bent and your core braced. Goal to maintain your shoulders and hips squarely dealing with the machine.

Single-Arm Cable Row Variations

The beauty of the single-arm cable row is that it’s broadly accessible to so many lifters. Primarily based in your ability stage and equipment access, you possibly can resolve what variation works finest for you.

Seated Single-Arm Cable Row

In case you are simply beginning out, do that variation. Most business gyms may have a easy seated cable row machine so that you can use. The one variable right here is that you can be training one arm at a time

Place your different arm wherever is comfy for stability. You might like resting it on the seat or holding one other cable isometrically if it’s a twin pulley system. You possibly can even carry out alternating reps in the event you select the latter choice.

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Cable Row

This variation permits freedom and adaptability in your coaching, but it surely does require extra stability and stability. Set the cable machine at about shoulder top and grab a mat or a pad for your knee. It would be best to be in a lunge place with the identical facet leg behind you. This implies if you’re rowing along with your proper hand, your proper knee must be bent behind you. 

You’ll discover it’s a must to use your core way more right here to stop your self from falling over. Add these anti-rotational core gains to the record of causes that this variation is value your time.

Standing Excessive Cable Row

The standing excessive cable row is comparable in setup to the lunge variation, besides the cable equipment is about above your head and you’re standing. Use a staggered stance to assist along with your stability. 

As soon as once more, the identical facet leg must be behind you. The excessive row will change the angle of the motion and make it extra like a lat pulldown. This shifts the main focus onto your lats and recruits extra engagement of your upper back

Single-Arm Cable Row Options

Searching for some alternate options to the single-cable row? You would possibly wish to use a unique piece of equipment, otherwise you may be on the lookout for one thing involving each arms. Listed below are some choices for you.

Two-Handed Cable Row

The 2-handed cable row is similar to the single-arm cable row, besides (you guessed it) you employ each arms on the identical time. Begin with this one if you’re new, as it’s a lot simpler and extra pure to carry out. 

Even if you’re skilled, the two-handed cable row means that you can use totally different attachments — similar to a straight bar — for a wider grip that you wouldn’t usually be capable to use with the single-arm cable row.

Machine Row

With all of the (justifiable) buzz round free weights, you may not assume utilizing machines is worth it. However a machine row is a good different to the single-arm cable row. 

Each machine is slightly totally different, however usually talking, you’ll be capable to carry out a variety of rows whether or not you select to make use of one hand or each. The machine will lock within the path of your motion for you, so that you don’t have to fret about stabilizing the load.

Dumbbell Row

Though the dumbbell row doesn’t have as a lot built-in variation as the opposite alternate options, it’s an unimaginable train to construct your again. Merely seize a dumbbell, excellent your hinge, and get rowing. 

You possibly can use a bench to help this transfer, as nicely. If want be, place your reverse leg and free arm on it for stability. You might discover your grip limiting you as you get stronger, so you’ll want to pack some lifting straps in the event you’re going heavy.

Muscular tissues Labored by the Single-Arm Cable Row

Understanding the anatomy behind the muscular tissues that energy the single-arm cable row might help you elevate your efficiency. Here’s a record of the principle muscular tissues utilized while you row. 

Rhomboid Main and Minor

The rhomboids are the first muscle chargeable for retracting your shoulder blades — which is what you’re doing while you row. These muscular tissues collectively originate from C7 to T5 in your backbone and fix to the medial border of the scapula. 


Just like the title suggests, the trapezius is a big trapezoid-shaped muscle in your again. The muscle begins all the way in which from the bottom of your neck at a spot referred to as the exterior occipital protuberance. It attaches to the spinous processes of C7 to T12. 

A person's Trapezius muscles.
Credit score: DinoPh / Shutterstock

Because of the orientation of the muscle fibers, your traps are chargeable for just a few actions — all pertaining to the scapula. The trapezius is chargeable for rotation, retraction, elevation, and despair. You might bear in mind protecting your shoulders down within the row — that is what despair is.

Latissimus Dorsi

That is the largest muscle in the back, generally known as the “lats.” From the spinous processes of T7 to L5, thoracolumbar fascia, iliac crest, and even ribs three and 4, the muscle attaches to the inferior angle of the scapula. 

Consequently, it’s chargeable for internally rotating and adducting your arm. In a single-arm cable row, protecting your arm near your physique is adduction. 


You in all probability already learn about the biceps. Because the title suggests, it has two heads — the lengthy and brief head. The biceps originate from elements of your scapula referred to as the coracoid course of and supraglenoid tubercle and fix to the radial tuberosity of the arm. 

This muscle flexes and supinates your arm. Though it’s not the first mover within the row, chances are you’ll discover a biceps pump, as this transfer nonetheless includes vital quantities of arm flexion.

Advantages of the Single-Arm Cable Row

The one-arm cable row is an simply accessible motion that may improve your strength, physique, and efficiency. It could additionally enable you determine potential weaknesses and be the distinction maker whether or not you’re on stage or crushing a circuit. 

Constructing a Extra Outlined Again

Utilizing one arm at a time is your finest shot at constructing extra symmetrical definition. Unilateral training — particularly with cables — means that you can focus extra on particular person muscular tissues of the again to actually polish your physique. The a number of angles that the single-arm cable row supplies are pivotal so that you can shift the main focus onto muscular tissues that you simply discover missing in growth. 

Bettering Muscular Imbalances

Imbalances and asymmetries are a standard a part of having facet dominance (whether or not you’re left or right-handed). However in the event you solely prepare with each arms on a regular basis — similar to with a barbell — chances are you’ll not discover that one arm is probably weaker than the opposite. 

The one-arm cable row might help identify any weaknesses in your physique and enable you tackle them. They are saying you’re solely as robust as your weakest hyperlink, and so they’re not fallacious. Spend a while constructing these areas to assist along with your efficiency.

Bettering Again Power

It’s important to embody rows in your program if you wish to build your back. The one-arm cable row is probably not the most suitable choice for creating maximal power. You’ll wish to go for larger compound lifts like barbell rows and deadlifts for that form of absolute power.

However nonetheless, the single-arm cable row shouldn’t be ignored. This unilateral accessory exercise means that you can develop power in ranges of movement {that a} conventional row doesn’t. It additionally permits you to spend so much of additional time below pressure, which is essential to constructing the muscular tissues that help all that power.

Enhancing Proprioception and Stability

You will have heard of one thing referred to as the mind-muscle connection, and the single-arm cable row helps to ship that have. By specializing in one arm at a time, you possibly can actually hone in on what muscular tissues are contracting and being utilized. At a complicated stage, you possibly can consciously recruit the muscular tissues you wish to concentrate on.

The one-arm cable row additionally teaches you scapular stability and control. This may be vastly necessary in lots of sports activities and may play a small function in the case of harm and rehab. Having a extra sturdy and resilient shoulder can enhance your longevity in each coaching and day-to-day actions. 

Who Ought to Do the Single-Arm Cable Row

So long as you should utilize a cable machine, you need to in all probability be doing the single-arm cable row. Listed below are the populations which may profit most from this versatile train.


As a beginner, you desire a well-rounded program, and this train is a stable choice to construct your again. It has a low entry level because it doesn’t require that a lot technical ability — particularly the seated model — and is mostly protected to carry out. Mixed with the assorted progressions and modifications to regulate to your ability stage, you will be positive you’ll be capable to carry out this motion on day one. 


The one-arm cable row is a staple for bodybuilders, as constructing an outlined again is on the high of their record. You don’t wish to find yourself on a bodybuilding present being criticized for an underdeveloped again. This train will enable you tackle any deficiencies in muscle development and make you prepared for the stage.


CrossFitters do all kinds of workouts — from kipping pull-ups to overhead lunges — and lots of of those actions require them to be answerable for their scapula. A single-arm cable row might help construct a extra sturdy and resilient scapula to deal with all of the duties chances are you’ll throw at it. 

From snatches to pull-ups and twine climbs to handstand push-ups, you will be positive the row will assist enhance your efficiency. 

Row, Row, Row (Your Single Arm)

So there you’ve gotten it. When you’re seeking to train your back, you recognize it’s a must to row, and realizing do the single-arm cable row is without doubt one of the most versatile methods to get it completed. Don’t be afraid to check out totally different variations, however bear in mind to pick the suitable load. You wish to prepare your again, in any case, not your arms or torso rotation. Begin sluggish, take your time, and your again will thanks with some candy, candy positive aspects. 


Certain, you’ve discovered so much in regards to the single-arm cable row. However you may need some lingering queries. And now we have lingering solutions.

How usually ought to I do the single-arm cable row?

Most applications may have you performing the train one to two times a week relying in your targets. In case your major plan is to construct your again, you would possibly add this in as an adjunct a number of instances per week.

Simply be sure you’re not fatiguing your again a lot that it takes away emphasis out of your larger compound lifts like barbell rows and deadlifts.

What attachment/grip ought to I exploit when performing the single-arm cable row?

Usually, select no matter attachment/grip is most comfy for you. Most lifters will use a D-handle since these are designed to be used with one hand and are generally obtainable in commercial gyms with cable machines.

Which arm ought to I begin with once I do single-arm cable rows?

Begin along with your weaker or non-dominant arm. This manner, you’ll be capable to actually focus all of your power on creating the facet that wants essentially the most consideration. You’ll additionally keep away from the issue of letting your dominant facet dictate the rep scheme, which could encourage “cheating” along with your weaker facet (and fewer optimum muscle progress).

Featured Picture: alessandro guerriero / Shutterstock

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