I have a confession to make. I don’t do standard DB Single Arm Rows. You know, the most classic back exercise in the book? I don’t do them because, quite simply, they don’t work for me.

I cannot effectively work my back, especially my lats, with that classic row exercise. So, the cool thing is I just don’t ever have to do rows, right? WRONG.

Here’s the deal… you train movement patterns NOT exercises. I stole that from my friend John Rusin. In other words, you need to train the essential movement patterns – push, pull, squat, hinge and carry – in ways that are effective and comfortable for you. Notice pull is on the list, not Single Arm DB Row.

Hinge, not deadlift with a barbell from the ground.

Push, not barbell bench press.

You get the idea.

What I’m trying to illustrate is that you want to find exercises that work within these essential movements and give you the results you desire. Above is how I’ve swapped out the row that doesn’t work and introduced this Chest Supported Single Arm DB Row instead.

Odds are, this is going to work better for you as well. Many people struggled with rows due to two major factors:

  1. Incorrect torso angle = Can’t hit lats
  2. Inefficient ROM = Can’t hit anything

This variation has built-in feedback due to the 30-degree angle of the bench you’re laying on. First, it puts you at an optimal angle to perform a more sweeping motion with the row instead of a linear pattern. This means you work the lats in the same direction as the muscle fibers run.

Secondly, you  now have a range-of-motion road block preventing you from over-rowing. If you get into a bad position, the dumbbell will run into the side of the bench. It’s an easy and on-the-fly correction to make.

Next time you start to notice an exercise not quite hitting the right areas or giving you more pain than results, don’t be afraid to swap it out – no matter how cool, common, popular or classic the exercise is. You need what works for YOU. Give these a try and let me know if they do!