Three Progressions to the Single-Arm Body Row
In this video we are demonstrating three different progressions, beginning with the basic Double-Arm Body Row, moving on to the Single-Arm Negative Row, and ending with the Single-Arm Row. Notice how this progression slowly increases the amount of bodyweight being placed on the single limb:
This is a killer full body exercise. Not only is the extensor chain fully activated in the two arm row, but once you release the single arm you’ve created a rotational load through the body that challenges your trunk in many ways. If we break it down anatomically, you’ll see just how many muscles have to coordinate to make this move possible. Let’s start with the Two-Arm Row:
Muscles in the Two-Arm Body Row:
Just by setting up in the starting bridge, the hamstrings are active by assisting the glutes in hip extension (or the bridge). The quads are activated in order to keep the knees from over-flexing. The lower erectors are maintaining the spinal position, while the rest of the trunk muscles are stabilizing and fighting against any unwanted movement (like rotation or lateral swaying). The muscles of the neck, like the SCM and supra and infrahyoid muscles are holding the head up. The thoracic extensors are extending the upper spine, while the rhomboids and mid traps are retracting the scapula. The rotator cuff is holding the head of the humerus in place, while the finger flexors are gripping the bar. And these are just some of the muscles working to start the exercise.
The dynamic prime movers encompass an equally wide range: With the elbow flexors, we’ve got the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis; at the shoulder joint we’ve got the powerful latissimus dorsi, teres major, rear deltoids, rhomboids and trapezius. From this perspective, I think the challenge is finding muscles that aren’t working rather than those that are. This is one of the beauties of bodyweight training.
Muscles in the Single-Arm Body Row:Progressing to the Single-Arm Row changes the entire dynamic of the exercise. In addition to everything we have going on with the Two-Arm Row, we now have to work even harder to counterbalance the rotation that gravity wants to pull on the system. You don’t need to be an anatomy expert to see how great this exercise is for challenging a lot of muscles!
Check out the video below to see how you can progress from the Double-Arm to the Single-Arm. Remember, form is everything so make sure you are mastering each step before moving on! Now go have fun with it.
Also check out these related posts and videos:
- Master the impressive L-Position Body Row by following the four progressions in my video: Best Body Row Progressions for Total Back Development.
- Try some additional single-arm exercises with The Single-Arm Ring Push-Up: The Ultimate Progression!, as well as The Archer Pull-Up.