Dumbbell One Arm Rows are one of the best exercises for building a bigger and stronger back. Being able to use a single dumbbell and brace the upper body allows the lifter to really focus on rowing heavy while maintaining good posture.
However, there may be situations where you need an alternative for One Arm Rows.
For example, I didn’t have dumbbells for almost the first year of my garage gym while I was holding out to find a good deal.
Whatever the reason, if you need some DB 1 Arm Row alternatives, you’re in the right place. I’m going to share with you my 10 favorite substitutions and hopefully, at least one is a good fit for you no matter your equipment or circumstance.
This article contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links I may earn a commission.
Alternatives for Dumbbell One Arm Row
Bent Over Barbell Row
The first alternative I would turn to if I wasn’t able to do DB One Arm Rows is Barbell Bent Over Rows. The barbell version of bent rows allows a good amount of weight to be used which is key for packing on mass.
The drawback to Bent Over Rows is that you’re unable to brace yourself with your off-hand as you can with One Arm Dumbbell Row. This means the low back has to work hard to maintain posture and proper form is even more critical.
This can be utilized as a positive, you just have to make sure to manage how much posterior chain work is included in your program.
Inverted Rows are one of the best, and most overlooked, horizontal rows you can do in the weight room. They place zero stress on the low back and can be modified to be good for both beginners and challenging for advanced lifters.
I believe they get overlooked because they’re a bodyweight exercise that is sometimes thought of as a lesser version of Pull-ups.
However, there are plenty of ways to make Inverted Rows challenging for any level of lifter. Elevating the feet, controlling the tempo and adding weight to the chest are just a few of the ways that you can make Inverted Row as difficult as you want. You can even add balance and get the core involved by using a stability ball to elevate the feet instead of a bench.
TRX Rows, or Ring Rows if you have a set of gym rings, are very similar to Inverted Row. It’s primarily a bodyweight exercise where you can increase or decrease the difficulty of the exercise by changing the angle in which you work.
If you take a TRX strap with you on road trips, this should be your go-to alternate for Single Arm Dumbbell Row. (If you don’t already have a TRX Strap, you can pick one up from Amazon here.)
Hex Bar Rows
If you have a Hex Bar (or Trap Bar as they are also called) and you’re not already doing Hex Bar Rows then you are missing out. Simply stand inside your hex bar, grab the handles and row exactly the same as you would for Barbell Bent Rows.
The same thing that makes a hex bar great for Trap Bar Deadlifts also makes them great for rows. Because the weight on the bar sits back closer to your midline it will take a little of the stress off the low back.
Plus, just a simple change of equipment can add some much needed variety to a workout program.
Pro Tip: Hex Bars can vary quite a bit in weight. Take that into consideration when planning on how much to load onto the bar for rows.
Landmine Rows are another great One Arm Row alternative. It’s also technically a barbell row, but it used the barbell in a much different way.
First, don’t blow past this option because you don’t have a landmine attachment. You can make a landmine attachment yourself pretty easily with nothing more than a tennis ball.
You have a ton of different options for Landmine Rows. You can use both hands on the bar, one arm at a time, stand slightly off to the side for Pendlay Rows or use a Lat Pulldown attachment. Find which you like best, there are no wrong answers here.
If you have access to a T-Bar Row machine then you have another great horizontal row to choose from. T-Bar Rows are very similar to Landmine Rows, it’s usually just a bigger piece of equipment.
If you’re really lucky, your T-Bar Row machine will be one that also includes chest support. A chest support pad can help take some of the strain off the low back that you may get with a Barbell Row, but you get the same Barbell Row benefits of being able to load up some heavy weight for your rows.
Hammer Machine Rows
Ah, the Seated Hammer Row machine. I have zero machines in my garage gym, but the one machine I would buy if I ever find one at a decent price is a Hammer Iso Row Machine. It is hands down my favorite.
You can sit or stand, have your chest supported and row ridiculously heavy weight. What’s not to love? If you have access to one of these machines they can serve as an excellent sub for Dumbbell One Arm Rows.
Chest Supported Rows
For Chest Supported Rows (also referred to as Incline Dumbbell Row), set up a bench at a 30-degree angle. Grab two dumbbells and lay on the bench on your stomach with your head over the edge of the bench.
Technically, you can use a bar for Chest Supported Rows as well, but the setup is a bit more awkward and works best if you have a partner.
Keep a good posture (don’t let your shoulders hang forward off the bench) and row.
Keeping the chest supported takes almost all of the strain off the low back (compared with a Bent Over Row) and allows the lifter to focus solely on the row.
Resistance Band Rows
Band Rows aren’t going to replace a One Arm Dumbbell Row for developing strength, but they can work great in a pinch if you’re traveling. Even if you don’t have something sturdy you can attach the resistance band to, you can always wrap them around your feet if need be.
The other place Band Rows can work well is as at the end of a workout to get a good burnout set in to end the day.
Close Grip Lat Pulldowns
If you have access to a Lat Pulldown machine, Close Grip Lat Pulldowns can work as a solid Single Arm Dumbbell Row alternative. For this exercise, you’ll need one of the close-grip attachments. If you don’t have a close grip attachment, use a tight underhand grip on the straight bar.
Lean back slightly more than you normally would for a Lat Pulldown and row. Focus on controlling the weight back to the top of the rep so you don’t end up rocking all over the place.
Seated Cable Row
If you have access to a cable machine then the Seated Cable Row can be a great One Arm Dumbbell Row alternative.
Just like with many of the rowing exercises above, focus on a proper starting position with the back flat and keep the core braced throughout the row.
The last exercise on the list isn’t a horizontal row like One Arm Rows, but it’s too good of an exercise to leave off. When in doubt, subbing Chin-Ups for pretty much any back exercise is never a bad idea.
I like Chin-Ups here slightly over Pull-Ups just because the underhand grip gets the biceps more involved.
I love Dumbbell One Arm Rows as a back building exercise, but sometimes a One Arm Row just isn’t an option.
Whether you’re lacking proper equipment or are just looking for a different movement to add some variety to your program, I hope at least one of these alternatives I’ve listed here is a good fit for you.