DB Row Variations

An anatomical drawing of a lifter performing a dumbbell row on a bench. The muscles that are worked from the exercise are highlighted.

The DB Row is a fantastic way to build upper body pulling strength for wrestling.

Additionally, because a good amount of pulling done in a match is with one arm at a time (under hook situations, knee pull singles, high crotches, tight waists, etc.), it makes the DB Row a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving your performance for wrestling.

The first variation/progression is the standard DB Row performed on a bench.

From time to time I like to have wrestlers work in the core rotation that I show in the video above.


Because most of the single arm pulling you’ll be doing, you’ll simultaneously be rotating during it.

…Think of the situations I mention above.

See what I mean?

Anyway, to perform this row, start by placing a hand onto a bench. Place the corresponding knee on the bench as well.

The hand and knee position should be done in such a way that your torso is parallel-ish to the ground.

Once your hand and knee are set, brace your core in a neutral position. Grip the dumbbell and begin the row.

Focus on keeping your elbow close to your side throughout.

Additionally, think about pulling your elbow up, rather than pulling with the arm or trying to curl the weight into position.

If you find that your form is breaking down as you try to use heavier weights, try adding a hold.

I really like adding a hold at the top of each rep. I find it allows for the lats to get a better stimulus, which is often lost in the quest to perform heavy dumbbell rows…

Anyway, once you’re comfortable with the DB Row, you can start to add levels of instability/whole body bracing to the equation.

First, you can start by taking your knee off the bench and stabilizing your body with just one hand on the bench:

Hand on bench dumbbell row while bracing torso so it is parallel to the ground

Then, you can progress to my preferred row, the Unbraced Row:

Again, the hold at the top is used to get better activation and prevent this:

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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