top of page

Single Arm Row Machine: A Comprehensive Guide to Unilateral Back Strength

Dive into the world of unilateral training with the Single Arm Row Machine, a powerhouse of a machine that promises to revolutionize your back workouts. This exercise machine is designed to target the muscles in your back in a way that few other machines can.

By focusing on one side of the body at a time, the Single Arm Row Machine helps to correct muscle imbalances, enhance muscular coordination, and increase overall back strength.

Throughout this article, we will explore the mechanics, benefits, and proper execution of this versatile piece of equipment, as well as provide insightful variations to keep your workouts challenging.

Whether you are a beginner looking to build a solid foundation or an experienced lifter aiming to break through plateaus, the Single Arm Row Machine offers a path to new growth and enhanced performance.

What is the Single Arm Row Machine?

The Single Arm Row Machine is a specialized piece of fitness equipment that is designed to offer a high-intensity workout for the upper body, particularly the back muscles. It allows for isolated, unilateral exercise, ensuring that each side of the body works independently, thereby promoting balanced muscle development and strength.

Unilateral training is a key component of a well-rounded fitness program. The Single Arm Row Machine provides the perfect opportunity for this type of training by allowing athletes to engage one side of the body at a time, which can lead to improved muscle symmetry and functional strength.

With its ergonomic design and user-friendly setup, the Single Arm Row Machine ensures that users can perform rows with precise form, minimizing the risk of injury. The adjustable settings allow for a personalized workout, catering to individuals of all fitness levels and body types.

The Purpose of the Single Arm Row Machine

Single Arm Row Machine

The primary purpose of the Single Arm Row Machine is to develop the muscles of the back. This includes the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles. These muscles are essential for a strong and healthy upper body, contributing to good posture and everyday functional movements.

The Single Arm Row Machine also serves an important role in identifying and correcting muscular imbalances. By isolating each side of the body, it is easier to spot differences in strength and muscle development, allowing for focused training to address these issues.

In addition to targeting the back, the Single Arm Row Machine requires significant engagement of the core muscles. This is due to the unilateral nature of the exercise, which challenges the core to stabilize the body against rotational forces, thereby improving overall core strength and stability.

Muscles Worked by the Single Arm Row Machine

Single Arm Row Machine

Primary Focus: The Upper Back

The Single Arm Row Machine primarily targets the upper back muscles. The latissimus dorsi, which is the largest muscle in the upper body, is the primary focus, along with the rhomboids and trapezius, which support the movement and contribute to the upper back's overall strength and appearance.

Secondary Muscles: Biceps and Shoulders

While the back muscles do most of the work, the Single Arm Row Machine also engages the biceps and posterior deltoids. These muscles assist in the pulling motion, making the exercise a compound movement that benefits several muscle groups simultaneously.

Core Engagement for Stability

The core muscles, including the obliques, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominis, are also activated during the rowing motion. This engagement is necessary to maintain balance and ensure proper form, highlighting the exercise's role in building a strong and stable midsection.

How to Perform the Single Arm Row Machine

Before starting, adjust the machine to fit your body. This includes setting the seat height so that your arm is level with the machine's handle at the starting position. Ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground or the machine's platform for stability.

Grasp the handle with one hand and, keeping your back straight and core engaged, pull the handle toward your torso. Your elbow should move past your back slightly as you squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.

As with any exercise, form is paramount with the Single Arm Row Machine. Keep your movements smooth and controlled, avoiding any jerking motions. Concentrate on using your back muscles to perform the work, rather than relying on momentum or other muscle groups.

Variations of the Single Arm Row Machine

Free Weight Alternatives

For those who do not have access to a Single Arm Row Machine, similar benefits can be achieved using free weights. A single-arm dumbbell row or a single-arm landmine row can replicate the unilateral training benefits and provide a comparable workout.

Incorporating Stability Challenges

To increase the difficulty and engage the core further, you can perform single-arm rows on a stability ball or a Bosu ball. This variation will challenge your balance and require greater core activation to maintain proper form.

Cable Machine Variations

A single-arm cable row performed on a cable machine provides a similar range of motion and muscle engagement to the Single Arm Row Machine. The constant tension of the cable can offer a unique challenge to the muscles and can be a great addition to any workout routine.


The Single Arm Row Machine is a valuable asset in any strength training regimen, capable of providing a multitude of benefits from muscle growth to improved functional strength.

By isolating each side of the back, it ensures a balanced and comprehensive approach to upper body conditioning.

This guide has walked you through the crucial aspects of the Single Arm Row Machine, from its fundamental purpose and targeted muscles to the execution and variations of the exercise.

Incorporating this machine into your workout routine can lead to significant improvements in strength, posture, and overall physical health.

Remember, the key to success with any exercise program is consistency and progression, and with the Single Arm Row Machine, you have the tools to achieve both.



bottom of page