Rows should be your go-to movement when you’re looking to work on your back muscles, and you’re certainly not short of options when it comes to picking which row you do. You can use bodyweight exercises like the inverted row or TRX row, grab a barbell to really pack on the weight with the barbell bent-over row, or focus on working one side of your body at a time with the dumbbell or kettlebell row.
The benefits of the kettlebell and dumbbell rows are essentially the same, so which weight you choose can depend on personal preference or simply which one is available. The lats, traps and smaller stabiliser back muscles are the main focus on the move, and working on one arm at a time can help you really focus on hitting those muscles during the exercise.
Furthermore, using one arm at a time – rather than both, as with the barbell bent-over row – means that you can’t rely on the stronger side of your body doing the bulk of the work. It’s a great exercise for identifying any strength imbalances and then correcting them.
See related :
- The Best Kettlebell Exercises For All Levels Of Gym-Goer
- The Best Back Exercises For All Levels Of Gym-Goer
How To Do The One-Arm Kettlebell Row
You can do the kettlebell row leaning on a bench, which can make it easier to maintain the correct back position during the exercise, but we’re going to focus on the floor version of the move here. One advantage of using kettlebells over dumbbells is that the large handle on the top makes it easier to pick them up off the floor during the exercise.
Standing with the kettlebell by your feet, take a big step back with your right leg and lean down to grab the weight with your right hand. Lean forwards, resting your left elbow on your knee and keeping your back straight – try to get your back as close to parallel to the ground as possible.
Lift the kettlebell to your chest, focusing on using the muscles in your back and shoulders rather than yanking it up with your arm. Your chest should stay still throughout and your elbow should pass close to your rib cage as you lift the weight. At the top of the move squeeze your shoulder and back muscles, then lower the weight slowly. Do all your reps on one arm, then switch sides.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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