I’ve long been a fan of Dan John’s batwing row idea, which is essentially a chest supported row iso hold. I’ve also applied that same concept to inverted rows (see here), and now I want to share something I’ve been doing recently with unsupported one-arm dumbbell rows that I really, really like.
Doing an iso hold with unsupported dumbbell rows changes it from more of an upper back exercise to a really tough full body challenge.
Get in a split stance with a stable base and hinge forward at the hips until just before the point where your stomach rests on the front leg. From there, grab a dumbbell in opposite hand of the front leg and row it up to your side until the dumbbell is touching your shirt. Hold that position for as long as possible.
Keep your torso steady and do not allow yourself to move up or down or rotate side-to-side. Your torso should be just above parallel to the floor with your shoulders square. Also make sure to keep the dumbbell pressed against your shirt. This ensures that you’re getting sufficient range of motion while avoiding anterior humeral glide that can result from pulling back too far. The set ends when you can no longer hold the dumbbell tight to your body or when you lose your starting torso position. In the video above, I have a bar set up in the rack so you can see my body position in relation to the bar to see if I move at all.
Start by choosing a weight you can hold for 20 seconds and build up to 45 seconds. From there, increase the weight and continue shooting for 45 seconds. Push yourself, but not at the expense of good form. Here I’m using 75 pounds. As you can see from the video if you look closely, this is more than just a back exercise and my entire body is shaking as I try to stay steady—core and legs included. You’ll feel these just about everywhere, but especially the back, forearms, abs, and glutes.
Do 1-2 sets at the end of your upper body workout, resting at least a minute between sides.
I’d be curious what you think and how you do with it, so if you try it out, leave a comment below letting me know how it went and how much weight you were able to do compared to what you can do for normal dumbbell rows.
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