When doing alternating dumbbell exercises where you only work one side at a time, holding only one dumbbell, eg Dumbbell Rows or Kroc Rows, which side should I start with? I've taken a look at some videos and most people start with their right side. This confuses me. Most people are right handed and hence I assume that the right side is their stronger side.

I wonder if it makes sense to begin with the weaker side so that I am not too exhausted when switching to the other side. So should I start with the weaker or stronger side?

3 Answers 3


It doesn't much matter. I switch it up to avoid favoring one side or the other. If always starting on the right helps you keep track of sets, then I can't see it being a tremendous problem.


The major reason to train your weaker side first would be to ensure you're not doing extra reps on your stronger side, and potentially increasing the difference in strength between the two. However, my experience is that's only a concern when you initially begin weight training, and that provided you train each side equally they should even out over time.

So, provided you avoid doing more work with your stronger arm, it shouldn't matter which you start with. You can do your weaker side first, then simply match repetitions with your stronger arm. Or you can do your stronger side first, then force yourself to complete that number of repetitions with your weaker arm (even if you have to take a short break before completing the final few).

  • I think that your point on trying to avoid doing more reps with the stronger arm is quite relevant here. (+1)
    – Mephisto
    Sep 26, 2013 at 19:33

When playing chess against the computer I have a trick to quickly decide if I am going to be white or black. If the date is odd (eg. July 21) I play black. If it is even (eg. July 22) I play white.

This ensures that you train equally as black or white player in the long term, and spares you the need of having to decide or remember which side must be first this time.

If there is any long-term effect of starting your dumbbell exercises always with the same arm, this trick will completely dilute it.

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