Dumbbell One Arm Row without a bench

One Arm Dumbbell Row without a Bench (3 options)

If you’ve solely been doing One Arm Dumbbell Row with one knee propped up on a bench, you may end up assuming that’s the only way to do it. Then you find yourself in a situation (maybe you started working out at home) where you don’t have a bench.

Now what?

Well, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can absolutely do Dumbell Rows without a bench. I didn’t have a bench in my garage gym for over a year and yet I probably did One Arm Rows on a weekly basis. In fact, in this article, I’m going to give you three different variations of Dumbbell One Arm Rows – no bench required.

3 Dumbbell One Arm Row Variations (with no bench)

Dumbbell Rows on the Rack

One Arm Rows without a Bench
Just don’t brace yourself on a dumbbell on a rack as they WILL flip off the rack on you.

One of the easiest ways to do One Arm Dumbbell Rows without a bench is to just use the dumbbell rack itself to brace against.

Use a wide stance so you can stay balanced and place one hand on the rack. Bend your knees, flatten your back and brace your core.

Now, pick up the dumbbell with the opposite arm and row.

SAFETY TIP: Do NOT brace your off-hand on another dumbbell still sitting on the rack. Dumbbells can flip off the rack if you lean on one side of them (I’ve seen it happen) and it can be really dangerous if it happens.

The dumbbell rack isn’t the only object you can brace against either. Plyo boxes can work great if they’re at a good height. Safety racks (ones that don’t rotate if leaned into) on a power rack are another great option. Any solid sturdy object will do the trick.

Brace Against Your Thigh

This little technique trick is a bit more advanced, but it can do the job if necessary.

Start with the dumbbell at your feet. Assume a wide stance, feet wider than shoulder width. Sink your hips and flatten your back.

Now, take the forearm of your off-hand and brace it down against your thigh. Finally, pick the dumbbell up from the floor with the opposite floor and row.

It may take a few tries to get the hang of this technique, so I would suggest starting with a lighter dumbbell until you get the hang of it. And, bracing the core becomes even more important than with a traditional Single Arm Dumbbell Row.

However, this technique of using your own thigh as an object to brace against can be surprisingly effective once you get proficient at it.

Renegade Rows

Renegade Rows

The third option for doing Dumbbell Rows without a bench is one that will also heavily involve the core and shoulders. Renegade Rows will actually feel like a total body lift once you’re done doing them.

If you’re not familiar, Renegade Rows is an exercise that involves you getting into a push-up position with a dumbbell in each hand. Then, one arm at a time (obviously) row the dumbbells to your chest.

Balance, shoulder stability and core stability play a huge role in this movement. Because of that, the amount of weight you’ll be able to use will be significantly less than a traditional Dumbbell One Arm Row.

However, it is a way to do Dumbbell rows without the need for a bench and they can add some great variety to your workouts even if you do have a bench.

Other Alternatives

Always remember that there is an alternative for pretty much every exercise you’ll find in a weight room. If a particular exercise is uncomfortable (I mean painful not just difficult) or if you’re missing the necessary equipment, don’t worry, there is always an exercise that can take its place.

For example, here are my 12 favorite Dumbbell One Arm Row alternatives. These 12 exercises are done with a variety of different equipment. Some are advanced and others are more beginner-friendly. All of them, though, will help to develop rowing strength and muscle mass.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to prop your knee up on a bench to do Single Arm Dumbbell Rows. In fact, that’s not even the way I teach One Arm Rows to athletes or how I do them myself. I much prefer to have both feet on the floor with my hand braced against something sturdy.

Either way, you definitely don’t need a bench.

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