Top 9 Dumbbell Back Exercises That Can Help Build A Strong Upper Body

Why use equipment that puts pressure on your muscles for your upper body workouts when dumbbell back exercises can help you to do that with a low risk of injury

dumbbell row

You may find affiliate links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Why Trust Us

Dumbbell back exercises can help improve your posture and physique. They can also help build a strong back and protect you from injury and pain.

Your back contains some of the most powerful muscles, many of which support your spine. Such muscles include

  • Latissimus dorsi or Lats
  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius or Traps, and
  • Erector spinae

Including exercises that can help you target and work those muscles can help reduce your waist size for the much sort-after V-shaped upper body.

Dumbbell back exercises can help strengthen your upper and lower body muscles, help improve your performance in many physical activities and make it possible for you to partake in many sports, such as boxing and swimming.

Related: 9 Best Rubber Hex Dumbbells To Help You Build Strength And Muscle Mass

renegade rows - best lat pulldown alternative and dumbbell back exercises

You can train and work your back exercises with various gym equipment, and dumbbells are one such piece of equipment that can help build and strengthen posterior muscles.

Dumbbell back exercises can help stretch and strengthen the muscles and help reduce, and even prevent, pain and injury.

Best Dumbbell Back Exercises for a Strong Upper Body

Below are some of the best dumbbell back exercises for your training regimen. They can help stretch and strengthen your back muscles and condition your body for more demanding physical activities and exercises.

As the name implies, you will need dumbbells for all the exercises, making it less challenging to include them in your fitness plans. These are some of the dumbbell back exercises at home for a strong upper body.

Deadlift

Deadlifts are some of the best dumbbell back exercises that target the shoulders and core for a full-body workout. They are compound exercises for building lower body strength.

Deadlifts are some of the best dumbbell lower back exercises to consider for your training.

Target Back Muscles: Lower Back, Middle Back, Traps

Steps to follow

  • Stand upright with feet at shoulder width and dumbbells of appropriate weight on the floor beside your feet.
  • Grab a dumbbell with a neutral grip, ensuring your palms face you.
  • Bend your knees and drop your hips as if doing a squat.
  • Keep your head up and look straight ahead and ensure your back remains straight and not rounded.
  • Explode upward by driving with your heels, lifting the dumbbells with you as you do so.
  • Your body should follow your head as you rise.
  • Push your hips forward and move your shoulder blades back as the dumbbells line up with your knees.
  • Pause for a moment, then bend your knees while lowering the dumbbells slowly in a controlled manner to your starting position.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 3-4 sets to complete a session.

One Arm Row

single arm row - dumbbell back exercises

The single-arm bench row is one of the most popular and best dumbbell back exercises for targeting and building the lats.

The dumbbell rows give a better range of motion than a barbell curl, helping to get faster results.

Using one hand allows you to focus and build one lat at a time, helping to correct any imbalances.

You will need a weight bench for support.

Required Equipment: Dumbbell, Flat Weight Bench
Target Back Muscles: Upper Back, Lats

Steps to follow

  • Place a dumbbell on the right side of a flat weight bench.
  • Stand on the left side of the weight bench and place your left knee on the top end.
  • Bend from the torso to make your upper body parallel to the bench, and place your stretched left arm on the bench for support.
  • Grasp the dumbbell with your right hand, ensuring your palm faces your body. Keep your lower back straight.
  • Pull the weight straight up until it reaches the side of your chest. Keep your torso still and your upper arm close to your body, and breathe out as you pull.
  • Pause at the top of the movement while squeezing your back muscles.
  • Start breathing in, and lower the dumbbell to your starting position.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps with one hand.
  • Switch sides and go through the movements with the other hand.
  • Aim for 8-12 reps per side for a set and 3-4 sets to complete a session

Bent Over Row

dumbbell bent over T bar row alternative

The bent over row is one of the most effective dumbbell back exercises for working and strengthening traps, lower lats, and upper and middle back muscles.

Aside from targeting other muscles, such as your shoulders and abs, bent over rows can increase your heart rate to help you burn more calories.

Target Back Muscles: Lower Back, Middle Back, Lats

Steps to follow

  • Stand upright, holding a pair of dumbbells in each hand. Your palms must face each other.
  • Bend forward at your hips and make your torso almost parallel with the floor. Keep your back straight.
  • Make your hands perpendicular to the floor and allow the weights to hang directly in front of you.
  • Start exhaling and pull the dumbbells to your sides. Keep your torso still and your elbows close to your body.
  • Pause at the top of the movement while squeezing your back muscles
  • Start inhaling, and lower the weights to your starting position in a slow and controlled manner
  • Repeat 8-12 reps per set and 3-4 sets to finish a session.

Incline Bench Two Arm Row

chest supported dumbbell row - dumbbell back exercises

The Incline Bench Two Arm Row targets the upper back and latissimus dorsi muscles, making it one of the dumbbell back exercises for your upper body.

The dumbbell back exercises involve supporting your chest on an incline weight bench. Doing so takes the pressure off your lower. It also removes some of the instability involved in performing rows.

The incline position is also one of the most effective ways to target the lower lats.

You will need an incline weight bench for the exercises.

Required Equipment: Dumbbell, Incline Weight Bench
Target Back Muscles: Upper Back, Middle back (Erector Spinae), Lats

Steps to follow

  • Set the weight bench to a 45-degree incline and lie face down, ensuring your chest rests on the back pad.
  • Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, using a pronated grip, i.e., with your thumbs facing each other, and let your hands hang straight down.
  • Pull back your shoulder blades, bend your elbows, and pull the weights to your sides.
  • Pause and slowly return the weights to your starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 3-4 sets per session.

Renegade Row

dumbbell plank to alternating row - renegade row - best dumbbell back exercises

The renegade row, aka plank row) is one of the top dumbbell back exercises for the traps. The exercise combines the row with a plank, allowing you to target other muscles, such as the core and shoulders, at the same time.

Using one hand at a time allows you to focus on your weaker side.

They are also cardio exercises for burning calories and improving heart health.

Target Back Muscles: Upper Back, Lower Back

Steps to follow

  • Position two dumbbells on the floor.
  • Get into a plank pose, resting each palm on a dumbbell and with your toes on the floor. Ensure your body, from head to heels, is in a straight line, and use a neutral grip to grasp the dumbells.
  • Keep your feet at a hip distance
  • Shift your weight onto one hand and use the other hand to pull the dumbbell to the side of your body.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to its starting position in a slow and controlled way.
  • Go through the motions with the other hand
  • Repeat 8-12 reps on each side for a set and 3-4 sets per session

Seal Row

Seal rows are some of the best lats, middle back, and upper back dumbbell exercises worth including in your upper body training regimen.

You perform the exercise on an elevated weight bench or a weight bench with a slight incline.

Increasing the height of the bench allows you to extend the range of motion. It also allows you to stretch at the lowest point of the movement.

Supporting your chest when doing the exercises removes the lower back and other muscles like the hamstrings and glutes from the equation. That allows you to focus more on your lats, traps, and rhomboids.

Required Equipment: Dumbbell, Incline Weight Bench
Target Back Muscles: Latissimus dorsi or Lats, Rhomboids, Trapezius or Traps, Erector spinae

Steps to follow

  • Elevate a weight bench with 2 or 3 45-pound weight stacks. Alternatively, set the weight bench to a 30-45-degree incline.
  • Gab a dumbbell in each hand, ensuring your palms face each other.
  • Lie face down on the weight bench, ensuring the mid-section of your chest overhangs.
  • Engage your core to make your spine neutral
  • Move your shoulder blades back and away from your ears, then pull the dumbbells till your elbows get past your hips.
  • Pause and squeeze your back for a moment
  • Slowly return the weights to your starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 3-4 set to complete a workout session

Tripod Row

The tripod rows are good dumbbell exercises for strengthening your upper body muscles.

The exercises require more core stability. Thus ensure your core muscles are strong enough before attempting.

The dumbbell back exercises allow you to work your back muscles unilaterally for a balanced strength and a more symmetrical body.

The tripod rows can also work and build biceps, abs, and shoulders.

You will need a flat weight bench for the exercise.

Required Equipment: Dumbbell, Flat Weight Bench
Target Back Muscles: Upper Back, Lats, Lower Back

Steps to follow

  • Stand about a foot or two from the flat weight bench
  • Place a dumbbell between the foot of your working hand and the weight bench
  • Bend your knees and hips, and rest the opposite palm on the edge of the weight bench.
  • Grasp the dumbbell with a neutral grip with your elbow at full lock.
  • Bend your elbow and pull the dumbbell to the side of your chest
  • Lower the weight back to your starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps on each side to make a set and 3-4 sets to complete a session.

Upright Row

Upright rows target and work the traps and lats muscles.

Upright rows are some of the best dumbbell back exercises without a weight bench that can help strengthen the upper back and increase shoulder mobility.

The exercise can lead to shoulder impingement or shoulder pain. Thus ensure you do them with proper form. Start with lower weights and build on from there.

Target Back Muscles: Upper Back, Traps, Lats

Steps to follow

  • Grasp a dumbbell with a pronated grip in each hand and stand upright, feet at shoulder width. Your palms should face forward.
  • Let the dumbbells rest on your thighs with the ends pointing toward each other, and keep your back straight.
  • Exhale, and using your side shoulders, lift the dumbbells to your chin. Keep your torso still, the weight close to your body, and ensure your elbows stay higher than your forearms.
  • Pause at the top of the movement, and lower the weights slowly to your starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 3-4 sets to finish a session.

Standing Shrug

dumbbell shrugs isolation exercises

Dumbbell shrugs, a variation of the dumbbell shrug, target the upper traps. They are some of the best dumbbell exercises that create symmetry in your upper back area.

Steps to follow

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with feet at shoulder width.
  • Keep the dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing your body.
  • Tighten your core, contract your traps, and elevate your shoulders as high as possible, moving the weights with your shoulders. Keep your arms extended.
  • Hold for 1-3 seconds, and lower your shoulders to move the dumbbells to their starting position.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 3-4 sets per session.

Final words from LiveLIfe

Dumbbell back exercises are some of the best ways to build strong upper body muscles, which can help strengthen your core, improve your posture and reduce the risk of pain and injury.

Using dumbbells for the exercises can help reduce the strain on your wrists and other muscles associated with some free weights like dumbbells.

Incorporate these dumbbell back exercises in your training regimen to help strengthen your muscles and boost your performance in other physical activities and sports

  1. Mannarino P, Matta T, Lima J, Simão R, Freitas de Salles B. Single-Joint Exercise Results in Higher Hypertrophy of Elbow Flexors Than Multijoint ExerciseJournal of Strength Conditioning Research. 2021;35(10):2677-2681. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003234
  2. Valdes O, Ramirez C, Perez F, Garcia-Vicencio S, Nosaka K, Penailillo L. Contralateral Effects of Eccentric Resistance Training on Immobilized ArmScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2021;31(1):76-90. doi:10.1111/sms.13821

Similar Posts