10 Best One Arm Row Alternatives (That Works Same Muscles)

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

One arm row alternatives

Photo Credits- Man photo created by serhii_bobyk – www.freepik.com

You might be very familiar with the one-arm row. It is one of the most famous and effective exercises to build amazing strength and to develop size and thickness for your back. Most bodybuilders and athletes do this exercise for improving their strength and overall performance.

However, the one-arm row can be difficult for some people as it requires you to keep your back straight. Many beginners or people who are are overweight may struggle to get themselves in the right position.

Also, some people want to try or add some new alternatives that work similar muscles and give that same stimulus like a one-arm row.

So in this article, I will share with you some of the best one-arm row alternatives that work the same muscles and are as effective as a one-arm row. Some exercises are easy and can be done by beginners, and some are a little challenging especially for those who are looking to add some new exercises in place of one arm row.

Muscles Worked During One Arm Row

One arm row is a compound exercise that primarily targets the lats, rhomboids, and traps. Apart from that, there are some other secondary muscles like abs, obliques, biceps, and rear delts, that assist during the exercise.

So now, as you know that what muscles are worked during a one-arm row, now let’s look at some of the alternatives!

One Arm Row Alternatives

The best one-arm row alternatives are seated cable row, T bar row, and bent-over row. Let’s discuss each of them along with other different alternatives here.

1. Seated Cable Rows

This exercise is one of the popular exercises you can see in the gym. You can find people doing this exercise a lot in the gym. It is one of the easiest and most effective alternatives to one arm row.

From beginners to most advanced level bodybuilders, everyone does this exercise and you can easily replace one arm row with this exercise.

Targeted muscles – lats, rhomboids, teres major, lower and mid traps.

How to do

1. Hold the handles of the machine and sit straight with your legs on the front platform with a slight bend in your knees. Your hands should be straight. This will be your starting position.

2. With your shoulders back and chest up, start pulling the weights towards your mid-abdomen area. Your elbows should be in as you move and keep your back straight.

3. Stop when your hands touch the abdomen and then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Pro tips

  • Always start the exercise by retracting your shoulders ( shoulders back) and squeezing the lats. This will make your form and posture perfect. Also, it will engage your back more.
  • Fully stretch your back at the very end so that your muscles are fully stretched. You should hit the muscle with the full range of motion instead of just partial reps.

2. V Pulldown

This exercise is for your thickness and is one of the popular old-school exercises. It’s a great alternative to a one-arm row, especially if you are a beginner. If you find one arm row difficult, then this is an easier alternative for you.

It is also a good exercise to add to your back workout. As it targets the lats and makes your back look much bigger and fuller.

Targeted muscles – latissimus Doris, teres major, trapezius

How to do

1. Attach a v grip handle on a lat pulldown machine. Sit down while holding the v bar handle. Keep your back straight and this will be your starting position.

2. Pull your shoulders down and engage your back without bending your elbows to engage your traps.

3. After that, start pulling the weights down while keeping your elbows in. Bring your hand toward the chest.

4. Pause at the bottom when your hands are almost touching the chest. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 12-15

Your elbow should be in as you move the weights. And remember, don’t lift your butt off the seat. You should reduce the weights if necessary.


Your spine should be neutral and don’t bend your lower back while pulling. You can go heavy on this but never compromise on the form.

3. Standing One-Arm Cable Row

This is a perfect alternative to one arm dumbbell row. You can use this as an alternative to the seated cable row because it mimics the same movement.

Here you can focus on each side separately. So if your back is weaker from one side, then try this unilateral movement, and you can remove those imbalances.

Targeted muscles – lats, teres major, and rhomboids

How to do

1. Attach a cable down at the bottom and hold it with one arm.

2. Bend your back slightly forward. Pull the weights from one hand and place the other hand on your thighs for balance.

3. Make sure that your elbows are in line with your lower back while you pull towards your waist.

4. Pause for a second and then return back slowly.

Recommended reps- 12-15

The positioning of a body during this exercise is more athletic. Your core will involve a lot to stabilize the body which makes it more functional. So all you athletes should try this!

4. Dumbbell Floor Row (One Arm Row Without Bench)

If you don’t have a bench and wondering how to do a one-arm row, then try this floor version. This exercise will not only target the lats and rhomboids but will also improve your balance.

So if you are at home or even in the gym and looking for some new way to do a one-arm row, then you must try this exercise.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, biceps, abs, and glutes

How to do

1. keep one knee on the floor and the other leg straight to the side. Place one hand on the floor. Hold the dumbbell from the other hand. Keep your back straight and this will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by moving the dumbbells up while keeping your elbows in. Keep your abs engaged and maintain your balance as you move.

3. Stop at the top when the dumbbell is close to your wai. Your elbow should be at about 90° angle at the top.

4. Slowly return to the starting position. Then switch to the other side and then repeat.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Make sure to engage your abs throughout the movement. Also, keep your back arch and maintain balance as you perform the movement.

You can also do a one-arm row while holding on to a table or rack. It’s not necessary to have a bench for this exercise. You just need to keep your back straight and should be able to perform rows while maintaining the right posture.

5. Incline Dumbbell Row

Another great alternative to one arm row. The movement pattern is almost similar to the one-arm row. Here, you cannot use too much momentum, which will put all the tension on your lats.

If you can’t feel the tension on the lats during the one-arm row, then try this exercise. Here, you can build an amazing mind and muscle connection.

Targeted muscles- latissimus dorsi, traps, rhomboids, teres major, erector spinae.

How to do

1. Grab two pairs of dumbbells on both hands. Lay down on an incline bench with both feet supported down the bench.

2. From this position, roll your shoulders back and start lifting the dumbbells up towards your mid stomach. Your elbows should be in to focus more on lat muscles.

3. Maintain a 90° angle between the elbow. Otherwise, your biceps will start dominating the exercise.

4. Pause at the top and then go down slow and stretch your back at the bottom.

5. Your shoulders should go back before you move the weights up. This is key to targeting your back.

Recommended reps- 10-12

If you can’t focus on your lats during any back workout, then try this! As you cannot use too much momentum here, you will be able to focus on your lats even more.


You can also do the same exercise with a barbell. Chest supported barbell row. Your range of motion will be reduced when performing with a barbell instead of dumbbells as the bar will touch the bench at the end.

But you should add some variations and changes to your workout program to get continuous results. So this exercise can also be used as an alternative to seated cable row.
Watch this video on YouTube

Form- The form and technique of the barbell chest supported row are similar to the incline dumbbell row. Just remember to hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip and everything else is the same.

6. Bent Over Row

This is another popular exercise to target the lats. Bent over row is a compound exercise just like one-arm row and is one of the best exercises to strengthen the back.

Sometimes during a back workout, you might be lifting heavy weights and can get tired or don’t want to do one-arm row as you have already done heavy compound exercises. During that day, you can skip one arm row if you have already done a bent-over row or you are about to do it next in a workout. So in other words you can do any one of the two exercises, either one arm row or bent over row.

Targeted muscles – lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps, abs and biceps

How to do

1. Place your feet under the barbell. Bend down by moving your hips back and then lift the bar with your arms.

2. Now bend again by taking your hips back and stopping when the barbell reaches the knee level. Keep your chest up, this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the weights up towards your stomach while keeping your chest up and shoulders retracted. Your lower back should not round during the movement.

4. Gradually lower the bar back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps- 10-12

As you go down to lift the barbell, Your hips should go back as if there is a chair behind you and you have to sit. Your chest should also be up as you go down. This keeps your back flat allowing you to be in the right position to perform the exercise.

7. Landmine Row

This exercise is another different way to train the lats. Here, you need a landmine setup. This is a unilateral exercise just like a one-arm row and will give you the same results. So next time in your back workout, try this alternative.

Targeted muscles – Lats, rhomboids, traps, teres major

How to do

1. Set a barbell in the landmine setup and stand just beside the bar.

2. Now bend down by taking your hips back and grab at the end part of a barbell from one hand. Your hips should be back and your chest should be up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start lifting the barbell up by flexing your lats. Your elbow should be in to make it an exact alternative for T bar rows. You can also do it with your elbows out as shown in the video.

4. Return to the starting position and do subsequent reps in a controlled way.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Make sure to keep your back flat and do this exercise with proper form and technique. You should engage your lats as you pull the bar up.

8. Towel rows

This exercise is good for people who want to work out at home. The difficulty level of this exercise is low so the beginner can also try this. Here, the body position and the angle somewhat look similar to the seated cable row.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids (upper back)

How to do

1. Take a long towel and roll it up around a pillar. Hold it with your hands and take your steps back.

2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your hands straight. Your shoulder should be back and chest forward. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start reaching forward by flexing your elbows and squeezing your back as you move. Your elbow should be in as you move forward.

4. Pause at the top and then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 12-15

You should do this exercise slowly to get the most out of it. Always remember to breathe out when you are pulling the weights and breathe in when your back is elongated.

9. Resistance Band Row

This is an easy exercise you can do at home without any need for heavy equipment. You just need a resistance band to perform this movement.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, traps

How to do

1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight to the front. Then take a resistance band and roll it with your feet as shown in the video.

2. Hold both ends of the band and sit with your back straight. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the resistance band towards the body. Your elbow should be in as you move your arms.

4. Stop at the end and squeeze your lats harder. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 12-15

You can make this exercise challenging by using a high resisting band. There are different types of resistance bands available with different intensity levels. You can select those according to your strength.

10. T Bar Row

This is a compound movement that will increase the strength and will give you thickness and size to your back. If you look at the joint movement and your hand positioning during the T bar rows, it is similar to the one-arm row. So you can add this as an alternative to one arm row.

Targeted muscles- Latissimus dorsi, traps, teres major, biceps

How to do

1. Take one barbell and place the one end of it at the corner of the floor or fix it inside a landmine base. Add the weights on the other side of the barbell.

2. Stand at a shoulder-width stance and grab the barbell. You can also use a close grip bar which is used to perform seated cable rows. This will increase the range of motion.

3. With your shoulders back, start lifting the barbell and take it to your waist. Don’t bend your lower back during the movement.

4. Return back to the starting position slowly and then repeat the movement.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Go heavy on this. Make sure to keep your back straight during each rep. You can do this exercise at the beginning stage of your workout as it is a heavy compound exercise.

Are Single Arm Row Effective?

This is one of the common questions which people, ask ‘are single-arm rows effective?’. The answer to that is of course yes, it is a very effective exercise when it comes to building strength and size of the back. It is beneficial not only for a bodybuilder who wants that giant and muscular look but also for those who want to play a sport or want to be athletic.

Another good thing about one arm row is that it is a compound and functional exercise which engages your core and other stabilizer muscles. So you should do one arm row if you can.

However, some people can’t do one-arm row properly as they have just started working out or they have so many muscular imbalances that they can’t do this exercise correctly. So for them, other alternatives which I have discussed above will be very helpful.

Final Words

So these were some of the best one-arm row alternative exercises. There were some easy alternatives for beginners and also some compound exercises which are a little challenging. So I have covered all different types of alternatives. If you know of any other exercises, then do mention them in the comment section below.

Make sure that when you add any alternative exercise, don’t try to do all of these exercises in a single day. Rather, you should add one or two alternatives and try it for a month. After that, you can replace it with other alternatives. So don’t do all of these exercises at once.

If you found this article helpful, then do share it with your friends or share it on social media so that we can reach more people and can grow our website. Also, if you have any suggestions related to our site, then do let me know.

Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.


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