The 6 Best Unilateral Back Exercises To Build Muscles

If you’re looking for some of the best unilateral back exercises to focus more on your weaker side and correct strength imbalance, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve shared the top six single arm back exercises in this article that you can incorporate into your pull workout routine to develop lats, traps, and other back muscles.

Who should perform Unilateral Back Exercises?

Anyone who wants to correct strength and muscle imbalance and improve back posture and appearance can do the unilateral back exercises. Doing single arm back exercises allow you to work on one side of back muscle at time as well as help you focus more on your weaker side.

The unilateral exercises are suitable for all gender. Whether you’re a male or female, you can incorporate some of the following unilateral back exercises in your overall workout regime.

How often should you do these workouts? You can do one or two of these exercises once week.

You can also save this: The 5 Best Workout Splits For Strength & Gain (With PDF)

Top 6 Unilateral Exercises for Back to Even out Strength Imbalance

  1. D-handle Lat Pull Down
  2. Single-arm Seated Cable Rowing
  3. Single-arm Landmine Row
  4. One-arm Dumbbell Row
  5. Cable Pulley Side Pulldown
  6. Meadows Row

1. D-handle Lat Pull Down

Exercise LevelExercise GoalMuscles Worked
IntermediateDevelop Strength and BalanceLats, Biceps, and Forearms

The lat pulldown is one of the most popular exercises for developing the lats. This exercise works to build up the muscles in your back as well as helps strengthen the biceps and forearms.

You can do lat pulldown with multiple types of equipment, such as a pulldown bar, V grip handle, and D handle. However, you need to use D-handle to perform the unilateral lat pulldowns.

The D-handle lat pulldown helps you focus more on your weaker side. It is an excellent exercise to correct strength imbalance in your latissimus dorsi and give your back a defined appearance.

How to perform D-handle lat pull down:

  1. Attach a D-handle to the machine and sit underneath.
  2. Grab the handle in your right hand with a neutral grip.
  3. Pull the weight down until you feel the contraction in your lats.
  4. Extend your arms to return to the start. That’s your one rep.
  5. Shoot for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps on each side.

2. Single-arm Seated Cable Rowing

Exercise LevelExercise GoalMuscles Worked
BeginnerDevelop StrengthTraps and Biceps

The seated cable rowing is a great exercise to tone your upper body and back muscles. You can do this exercise by using both arms or a single arm. Both are excellent for developing a muscular back, but if you want to focus on one side of your back muscles at a time and improve muscle appearance, consider doing one-arm seated cable rowing.

The single arm seated cable rowing is one of the best unilateral back exercises you can do to target your lats and trapezius (trap) and help build a defined back.

To perform the single-arm cable row, you’ll need to use a D-handle. A D-handle provides a better grip and allows you to pull the weight effectively.

Steps to do it:

  1. Hook a d-handle to the cable, sit on the bench, and place your feet on the f0ot platform of the machine.
  2. Extend your right arm and grab the handle with a neutral grip.
  3. Keep your chest up, core tight, and back straight. That’s your starting position.
  4. Pull the weight toward you until you feel the full contraction in your back muscles.
  5. Pause for a second and then uncurl your arm. It will be your one rep.
  6. Aim for three sets of eight to ten reps on each side.

3. One-arm Dumbbell Row

Exercise LevelExercise GoalMuscles Worked
BeginnerBuild StrengthLats, Traps, and Biceps
single arm back exercises

The dumbbell row is one of the popular single-arm dumbbell back exercises. It strengthens your upper back, shoulder, and upper arms and helps build a solid upper body.

People of all age groups can use this exercise to even out muscle imbalance in their back and improve posture.

The single-arm dumbbell row is also great for improving your grip and pulling strength. All in all, it’s an excellent exercise to include in your workout routine.

How to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in your right hand, lean your torso forward by bending your hips and knees, and place your left hand on the elevated object such box or bench.
  2. Brace your core and maintain a neutral spine. This is your starting position.
  3. Row the dumbbell at your side until your feel the work in your back muscles.
  4. You can hold for a second at the top before you lower the weight to the starting point.
  5. Perform an equal number of reps and sets on each side.

4. Single arm Landmine Row

Exercise LevelExercise GoalMuscles Worked
IntermediateBuild Strength and MobilityLats, Traps, and Biceps

The single-arm landmine row is another excellent exercise to hit your back muscles efficiently. It is similar to dumbbell rows, but you need a barbell to perform this exercise.

It works on your multiple back muscles simultaneously, such as lats, traps, infraspinatus, and lower back, and adds strength and definition to your back muscles.

How to do one-arm landmine row:

  1. Insert the bar in the landmine row attachment and put the desired weight into the barbell.
  2. Stand on the right side of the barbell with your feet hip to shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar firmly with your right hand.
  4. Brace your core and maintain a neutral spine position. That’s the start.
  5. Now, row the barbell at your side until your back muscles are entirely engaged.
  6. Lower the bar to the start to complete your one rep.
  7. Perform an equal number of reps and sets on each side.

You can also perform this exercise without a landmine attachment by placing the barbell in the corner of the wall.

5. Cable Pulley Side Pulldown

Exercise LevelExercise GoalMuscles Worked
IntermediateBuild StrengthLats, Traps, and Biceps

The cable pulley side pulldown is one of the best unilateral back exercises that hits your latissimus dorsi. It works on your lats from a different angle and sculpt the entire back muscles.

Other than the back, the cable pulley side pulldown also engages your biceps and forearms and it can be a good addition to your ultimate back workouts.

How to do it:

  1. Set the cable to the highest section of the machine and connect the d-handle.
  2. Adjust the weight according to your strength, grab each handle, and sit on your knees underneath the middle of the cable pulley machine. Keep your arms extended, posture upright, and core tight. This is your starting point.
  3. Bending your right elbow, pull the weight toward your body until your back muscles get activated.
  4. Extend your right arm and repeat with the opposite arm.
  5. Do the desired reps and sets equally on each side.

6. Meadows Row

Exercise LevelExercise GoalMuscles Worked
IntermediateDevelop StrengthTraps, Lats, and Biceps

The Meadows row is named after John Meadows, a former professional bodybuilder. It is an excellent way to target the muscles of your upper back, such as the trapezius.

This exercise is slightly different than the landmine row, particularly in the stance position. That’s why it helps target the back muscles from a different angle.

It is worth adding to your workout program, especially on your pull day, to train your back efficiently.

You can do this exercise once in two weeks.

How to do it:

  1. Place one end of the bar in the corner of the wall and insert the desired weight into another.
  2. Stand in the split stance with the front foot perpendicular to the barbell.
  3. Lean your torso forward by bending your hips and knees and grip the bar with an overhand grip.
  4. Place the opposite hand on your front knee for support and maintain a flat back. This is your start.
  5. Bringing your elbow back, pull the weight toward your body until you feel the full contraction in your back muscles.
  6. Pause for a moment before you extend your arm.
  7. Do the desired reps and sets equally on each side.

Related Exercises:

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