The 18 Best Dumbbell Back Exercises and Workouts – Fitness Volt

There is nothing dumb about dumbbells. In fact, the humble dumbbell is one of the most versatile training tools around. Using dumbbells, you can train for muscle size, strength, or endurance, and they’re great for things like circuit training and high-intensity interval training. Plus, if you work out at home, they don’t take up a lot of space – when you’re using them or for storage.

So, why are they called dumbbells?

It turns out that dumbbells were invented by 16thcentury English bell ringers who needed a silent way to practice their art. They removed the clackers from their bells to render them dumb – meaning silent.

Modern dumbbells don’t look a whole like the original silenced bells, but they’re a whole lot more useful. The advantages of training with dumbbells include:

  • Identify and fix left to right strength imbalances
  • Improved coordination and balance
  • Increased range of motion
  • Often more joint-friendly than barbells
  • Increased joint stability
  • Can be used individually or in pairs
  • Compact and easy to store

You can use dumbbells to train virtually every muscle in your body but, for this article, we’re going to reveal the 15 best dumbbell exercises for back building.

About the Experts Behind This Article:

Patrick Dale serves as the Training Editor at Fitness Volt. His journey began with roles in gym instruction and personal training, then a significant chapter saw him serve with the elite Royal Marine Commandos, notably in Northern Ireland. Post military service, he rededicated himself to the fitness sector, guiding new trainers and delving into a wide range of athletic activities.

Tom Miller, equipped with his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) credentials, stands as an authority in fitness and conditioning at Fitness Volt. His meticulous review processes ensure the accuracy and integrity of our content.

Together, their collective expertise guarantees that our articles are both insightful and grounded in significant professional experience.

Best Dumbbell Back Exercises

Bench presses and biceps curls are probably the most popular dumbbell exercises, but dumbbells are fantastic for back building too.

Here are 18 of the best dumbbell exercises you can do for your upper, lower, and mid-back.

  1. Dumbbell Bent-over Row
  2. Dumbbell Yates Row
  3. Dumbbell Single-Arm Row
  4. Kroc Row
  5. Dumbbell Pendlay Row
  6. Dumbbell Plank Row
  7. Dumbbell Wrestler’s Row
  8. Dumbbell Shrug
  9. Dumbbell Renegade Row
  10. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk
  11. Dumbbell High Pull
  12. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
  13. Dumbbell Good Morning
  14. Dumbbell Reverse Fly
  15. Dumbbell Chest-Supported Row
  16. Dumbbell Pullover
  17. Chest-Supported Shrugs
  18. Dumbbell Seal Row

1. Dumbbell Bent-over Row

Two-handed rows are usually done with a barbell. While that exercise certainly works, there is a disadvantage; you can only pull the bar back until it touches your body.

Using dumbbells means you can row with a larger range of motion, which may increase muscle activation. Also, using dumbbells ensures that you work both arms equally.

Bent Over Dumbbells Row
Bent Over Dumbbells Row

How to do it:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral or overhand grip while keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees slightly while bringing your torso forward until it is almost parallel to the ground.
  • Keep your core tight and back straight.
  • Retract the scapula and pull the dumbbell to your sides while feeling the contraction in the mid-back and lats.
  • Lower the dumbbells slowly while exhaling.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Pro Tips: Try the overhand and neutral grip to check what works better. Keeping the elbows close to the body allows better lats activation, and a wide elbow positioning will result in greater upper-back activation.

Benefits of the dumbbell bent-over row

  • It’s a compound movement that activates almost every muscle on the posterior chain.
  • A dumbbell bent-over row allows a greater range of motion.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 8-12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Intermediate

Progression: Slow down the eccentric motion

Learn how to do dumbbell bent-over rows here.

2. Dumbbell Yates Row

Although the Yates row is usually done with a barbell, it works just as well with dumbbells. Named after the six-time Mr. Olympia Doran Yates, this bent-over row exercise involves a more conservative back angle, making it a little more lower back-friendly than regular bent-over rows.

Yates had one of the best backs in bodybuilding; this exercise worked for him and will work for you too.

How to do it:

Set-up: Get a pair of heavy dumbbells and place them on a bench.

  • Hold it with a neutral grip while maintaining a strong core.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart for better balance.
  • Slightly bend your knees and lean forward until your torso is parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Pull the dumbbell towards your sides by retracting your shoulder blades and pulling your elbows towards the ceiling.
  • Control the eccentric movement while maintaining a strong core.

Pro Tips: Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement to experience a greater stretch in your upper back.

Benefits of the dumbbell yates row

  • It allows you to go heavy.
  • Emphasize upper back strength.
  • Builds bigger biceps and grip strength.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Advance

Progression: Drop sets of dumbbell yates row

Find out more about Yates rows in our in-depth guide.

3. Dumbbell Single-Arm Row

Single-arm dumbbell rows are a classic back builder. Using one arm to support your upper body, you are free to focus on working your back in relative comfort and safety. As an added advantage, you only need one dumbbell for this exercise.

One Arm Dumbbell Rows

How to do it:

  • Bend at your hips and place your right hand at one end of a flat bench and your right knee on the other.
  • Your torso should be parallel to the floor.
  • Grab a dumbbell in your left hand with a neutral grip.
  • Exhale and pull up the dumbbell to the side of your chest while retracting your shoulder blades and keeping your elbow close to the body.
  • Slowly bring down the dumbbell to the starting position.
  • Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.

Pro Tips: At the bottom, stretch your arm forward to achieve a superior range of motion and feel the tension in the lats.

Benefits of Single-arm rows

  • Unilateral movement helps fix muscle and strength imbalances.
  • It helps in achieving better lats isolation.
  • Reduces stress on the lower back and improves core strength.
  • Allows a higher range of motion.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12 reps with each hand
  • Strength: 1-5 reps with each hand

Difficulty: Beginners

Progression: Dumbbell bent-over row

Learn how to do this classic back builder here.

4. Kroc Row

Kroc rows are an extreme version of single-arm dumbbell rows. With this variation, you use a very heavy weight and your legs and lower back to help you crank out your reps. Although it can be considered cheating by conventional bodybuilding standards, it’s a potent back size and strength-building exercise.

Named after powerlifter and bodybuilder Janae Marie Kroc, this is an advanced exercise so make sure you have mastered standard single-arm rows before you try it.

Kroc Row
Kroc Row

How to do it:

  • Stand next to a stable platform such as a weights rack or a bench.
  • Lean forward to angle the torso around 30-45 degrees from the floor.
  • Have your left leg in front and your right leg behind to add stability.
  • Grab the dumbbell with your right hand with a neutral grip. You can also use lifting straps.
  • Retract your shoulder blades and pull the dumbbell with your back. Avoid using the biceps.

Pro Tips: Focus on controlled negatives and maximum stretch.

Benefits of Kroc Row

  • Builds explosive rowing strength.
  • Excellent mass-building exercise.
  • Increases grip strength.
  • Corrects muscle imbalance between sides.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12-14reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Advance

Progression: Drop sets of Krock row

Regression: Single-arm rows

Read more about Kroc rows in this article.

5. Dumbbell Pendlay Row

Pendlay rows, also known as dead-stop rows, are named after powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting coach Glen Pendlay. With this dumbbell back exercise, you rest the weight on the floor between reps, which gives your grip and lower back a short rest.

This should allow you to lift heavier weights or do more reps than regular bent-over rows. You can do dumbbell Pendlay rows using two dumbbells or one arm at a time.

How to do it:

  • Set a pair of dumbbells on the floor at shoulder width.
  • Bend over so your torso is parallel to the ground.
  • Grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip while engaging your core.
  • Use your lats to explosively pull the dumbbells towards your sides.
  • Lower the dumbbells to the ground.
  • Brace your core again and repeat the pull for a few reps.

Pro Tips: Do some core activation drills (bird-dog exercise) before you perform this exercise.

Benefits of the dumbbell pendlay row

  • Improve the explosive strength of lats.
  • Improves the core engagement and rowing technique.
  • Creates a strong foundation for heavier deadlifts and squats.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: intermediate

Progression: Bent-over rows

Regression: Chest-supported rows

Learn how to do dumbbell Pendlay rows here.

6. Dumbbell Plank Row

This unusual exercise works your back, biceps, and core all at the same time. It’s pretty challenging, so don’t go too heavy too soon. You only need one dumbbell and something like a strong chair, bench, or step to lean on, so it’s a great at-home back exercise.

Dumbbell Plank Row

How to do it:

  1. With a dumbbell in one hand, place your other hand on your bench. Walk your feet out and back until your legs and body are straight. Let the weight hang straight down. Brace your abs and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Without twisting your hips or shoulders, pull the dumbbell up and into your ribs. Lead with your elbows and keep your upper arm close to your side.
  3. Extend your arm and repeat.
  4. Do the same number of reps on each side.

Pro tip: Don’t try to go heavy with dumbbell plank row; instead, emphasize more on the tempo.

Benefits of plank row

  • Improves body stability and core strength.
  • Provides anti-rotational ab workout.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 8-10 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Intermediate

Progression: Dumbbell Renegade Row

7. Dumbbell Wrestler’s Row

The best thing about the dumbbell wrestler’s row is that it makes light weights feel a whole lot heavier, so it’s ideal for home workouts when you’ve only got small dumbbells to train with. This is an excellent postural exercise that will also help strengthen your mind/muscle connection.


How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees slightly without rounding your lower back, and lean forward until your torso is inclined to about 45 degrees. Row both dumbbells up and into your ribs. This is your starting position.
  2. Keeping one arm stationary, extend one arm, and then row the weight back up.
  3. Lower the other weight and pull it back in.
  4. Continue alternating arms for the duration of your set.
  5. Make sure you keep your non-working arm pulled in tight – really flex that back!

Pro Tips: Core engagement is the key here. Start with a lighter dumbbell and slowly progress towards a heavier weight. 

Benefits of dumbbell wrestler row

  • It’s an anti-rotational movement that works on core stability.
  • It’s a functional exercise that improves sports performance and muscle coordination.
  • Decrease the risk of injuries by overcoming torso imbalance and poor movement.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: intermediate

Progression: Dumbbell plank row.

8. Dumbbell Shrug

Dumbbell shrugs work your upper traps. While some people train their traps with their shoulders, they’re actually more of a back muscle. You can do shrugs using a barbell, but dumbbells can be equally effective.

There is no need to roll your shoulders when doing shrugs; just focus on moving up and down. Rolling your shoulders increases joint wear and tear and doesn’t make this exercise any more effective.

Dumbbell Shrug
Dumbbell Shrug

How to do it:

  • Place a pair of dumbbells on a bench or weight rack to make it easier to lift.
  • Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip.
  • Stand strong while bracing your core.
  • Retract your scapula, lift your shoulders towards the ceiling and contract your traps at the top.
  • Slowly bring back the dumbbells to starting position.
  • Repeat the movement for 10-15 reps.

Pro Tips: Focus on slow eccentric and explosive concentric movement.

Benefits of dumbbell shrugs

  • One of the finest exercises that build strength and thickness to the traps.
  • Improves grip strength.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12-15 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Beginner

Progression: Single arm shrugs

Find out how to do dumbbell shrugs here.

9. Dumbbell Renegade Row

Dumbbell renegade rows are a more advanced version of the plank row (#6). Like plank rows, it works your back and your core at the same time. Toss in a push-up between rows to turn it into a chest AND back exercise.

Renegade Rows
Renegade Rows

How to do it:

  • Start in a high plank position with a dumbbell in each hand placed at a shoulder-width distance.
  • Place your feet’ shoulder weight apart for balance and stability.
  • Pull the dumbbell towards your side while maintaining a stable core.
  • Bring the dumbbell back to the ground and do a push-up.
  • Repeat the motion with the other arm.

Benefits of Dumbbell renegade row

  • Skyrocket your fat burning with dumbbell renegade row.
  • Builds full body strength and stability.
  • It’s a great exercise to torch fat.
  • It’s an optimum exercise for working multiple muscles in a limited time.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Advance

Progression: Plank row

Check out our in-depth guide to discover how to do this awesome, functional back exercise.

10. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk

People often think of the farmer’s walk as a core or conditioning exercise or do it for increased grip strength. While this exercise is suitable for all those things, it also provides your traps with a great workout. It’s a simple move – grab some heavy dumbbells and go for a walk – but sometimes, simple exercises are the best way to build muscle.

How to do it:

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  • The dumbbell should be at least 50 percent of your body weight.
  • Engage your core and retract your shoulder blades.
  • Begin walking with your back straight and head up.
  • Measure the farmer’s walk either by time or distance covered.

Pro Tips: Grip strength may limit your farmer’s walk. Using a lifting strap certainly helps you cover more distance.

Benefits of farmers’ walk

  • Powerlifters often use farmers’ walk to increase raw strength.
  • It requires complete body stabilization and trains your body from head to toe.
  • Develop monstrous traps and cannonball delts.
  • Stronger and bigger forearms.

Intensity range:

  • Light day: long distance (100 meters).
  • Medium day: med distance (40-50 meters).
  • Heavy day: short distance (10-20 meters).

Difficulty: It’s a beginner-friendly workout

Progression: Single-hand farmer’s walk, overhead walk, bear hug

Learn all about farmer’s walks in our detailed workout guide.

11. Dumbbell High Pull

Dumbbell high pulls are a cross between Romanian deadlifts (#12) and upright rows, which makes them an excellent lower back dumbbell exercise that also works your upper traps. As an added benefit, this exercise is good for increasing explosive power, making it a useful move for athletes.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs. Your palms should be facing your legs.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and, without rounding your lower back, lower the weights to just above your knees.
  3. Stand up explosively and use this momentum to help pull the weight to around chest height. Keep your elbows above your hands throughout the range of motion.
  4. Lower the weights, reset your core, and repeat.

Benefits of Dumbbell High Pull

  • This exercise is a multi-joint movement that recruits significant numbers of muscle fibers.
  • It primarily engages lats and traps; secondary muscles include shoulders, core, glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
  • It improves explosiveness and functional ability.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12-15 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Progression: Kettlebell high pulls

12. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Most people do Romanian deadlifts to work their glutes and hamstrings. However, this exercise is an equally useful lower back exercise too. You can do it with a barbell, but dumbbells are often more comfortable.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs. Your palms should be facing your legs.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and, without rounding your lower back, push your hips backward and lean forward. Lower the weights as far down the front of your legs as your flexibility allows.
  3. Stand back up and repeat, taking care not to lean back at the top.

Benefits of the dumbbell Romanian deadlift

  • A Romanian dumbbell deadlift allows an extended range of motion.
  • Improve muscle mass and strength.
  • Builds grip strength.
  • The body’s center of gravity stays closer to the body.
  • It’s a beginner-friendly version of the deadlift.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 8-10 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Intermediate

Progression: Just go heavy

13. Dumbbell Good Morning

Good mornings are so-called because, when you do them, it looks a bit like you are bowing to greet someone. This exercise is more often done with a barbell but is considerably more comfortable and every bit as effective when you do it with a single dumbbell. Good mornings work your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.


How to do it:

  1. Hold a single dumbbell in front of your chest with both your hands. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Brace your abs.
  2. Without rounding your lower back, push your hips back and lean forward as far as your flexibility allows.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Pro Tips: Little pause at the bottom will help glute activation and mind-muscle connection.

Benefits of Dumbbell good morning

  • Strengthen the whole posterior chain in one movement.
  • Improves functional strength that aids in squatting and deadlift performance.
  • Good morning is a hip hinge exercise that improves hip strength and mobility.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12-15 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Intermediate

Progression: Romanian deadlift

Regression: Dumbbell Hyperextension

14. Dumbbell Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is an excellent exercise for better posture. It works your posterior deltoids, middle traps, and rhomboids and can help pull your shoulders back and undo some of the effects of hunching over a computer or phone all day. It’s also good for your general shoulder health.

Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly
Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a pair of dumbbells in a neutral grip.
  • Hinge forward by pushing your hips back.
  • Maintain the arc in your back while getting almost parallel to the floor.
  • Now lift your arms to your sides so they are in line with your torso and parallel to the floor.
  • Control the eccentric motion to bring the dumbbells back to starting position.

Pro Tips: Don’t try to go heavy. Maintain complete control over the motion by controlling the tempo.

Benefits of dumbbell reverse fly

  • Strengthens upper back and posterior delts.
  • It’s an excellent exercise for scapular strengthening.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Intermediate

Check out our guide and learn to do dumbbell reverse flyes correctly.  

15. Dumbbell Chest-Supported Row

Most dumbbell rowing exercises put a lot of pressure on your lower back. That can be a good thing as it will help strengthen this all-important area. However, if your lower back is tired or sore, you might appreciate a more lower-back-friendly exercise.

Chest-supported dumbbell rows take your lower back out of your workout, leaving you free to focus on training your upper back and biceps.

How to do it:

  • Set an incline bench at 45 degrees.
  • Now grab a pair of dumbbells and rest your torso on the angled portion of the bench.
  • Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip.
  • Now retract the scapula and pull your elbows upward to lift the weight.
  • Control the tempo as you bring the dumbbells back down.
  • Repeat the movement for 12 reps.

Pro Tips: Pause for a second at the bottom. It allows greater muscle engagement.

Benefits of the chest-supported row

  • Eliminates the chances of back pain or injuries.
  • It is considerably easier for beginners.
  • It’s easy to anchor the torso in the correct position.
  • Better isolation of back muscles.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Beginner

Progression: Bent-over dumbbell row or pendlay row

16. Dumbbell Pullover

Many lifters view the dumbbell pullover as a chest exercise, but it’s an excellent exercise to train lats.

Dumbbell Pullover
Dumbbell Pullover

How to do it:

  • Lie on the bench while holding a single dumbbell with both hands.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent as you hold the dumbbell over your chest.
  • Maintain a slight arch in your back to open up your lats.
  • Lower the weight behind and go down as low as you can.
  • Once you get to the bottom, you have to pull the dumbbell up to get into the starting position.

Pro Tips: Flare your elbows slightly wider to have better lat activation.

Benefits of dumbbell pullover

  • Engage the core, shoulders, back, and chest.
  • It’s also a great exercise to improve shoulder mobility.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 12-15 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: intermediate

17. Chest-Supported Shrugs

Just like you did the chest-supported bent-over row, now you will be doing the chest-supported shrugs.

It is a fantastic variation to isolate the traps for size and strength. 

How to do it:

  • Set a bench at 45 degrees and rest your torso on the angled portion of the bench.
  • Grab the dumbbells in a neutral position.
  • Retract your scapula and pull the weight up as high as possible.
  • Lower the weight in a slow and controlled motion.
  • Repeat the movement.

Pro tips: Hold each contraction for two seconds to maximize gains.

Benefits of chest-supported shrugs

  • Torso angled at 45 degrees allows training mid and upper traps.
  • One of the best trap isolation exercises.
  • Won’t strain your lower back.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-15 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps

Difficulty: Beginners

Progression: Heavy rack pulls

18. Dumbbell Seal Row

The seal row is an excellent exercise that isolates the upper back and lats.

There are benches explicitly made for the seal row, but if you don’t have one in your gym, then you can increase the height of the available bench by placing a few weight plates under it on each side.

How to do it:

  • Increase the height of the bench to achieve a full range of motion.
  • Lie with your chest on the bench with the dumbbells placed on the floor.
  • Grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip.
  • Retract your shoulder blades and pull the weight up by lifting your elbows towards the ceiling.
  • Hold the contraction for two seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended reps.

Pro Tip: Focus on a controlled eccentric motion for achieving hypertrophy.

Benefits of dumbbell seal row

  • It’s a very effective back isolation exercise.
  • It allows you to train your back without cheating.
  • Beneficial for people who struggle with poor form or back pain.
  • It also strengthens the rotator cuff.

Best Rep Range:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-12 reps
  • Strength: 1-5 reps.

Difficulty: Beginner

Progression: Dumbbell bent-over row

Important Training Variables

Training variables can bring variety to the workout.

Primarily, there are two training variables that you need to know: Body positioning and grip variation. Let’s get to know each in detail.

Grip Variations

Using dumbbells, you can train with an underhand grip, overhand grip, neutral grip, or rotating grip. Let’s understand how different grips have different impacts on your back muscles:

  • Underhand grip: Underhand grip emphasizes more on your lats and biceps. The underhand grip usually feels easier because of the greater biceps involvement.
  • Overhand grip: Overhand grip emphasizes the development of traps, rhomboids, rear delts, teres major, and brachioradialis.
  • Neutral grip: Neutral grip helps in achieving better lat stretch. It targets all the back muscles evenly.
  • Rotating grip: Many experienced lifters rotate their grip during a pulling motion. Rotation improves overall upper body development by engaging more muscle fibers.
    Dumbbell rotation enhances functional ability and allows deeper stretch during the workout.

Body Positioning

Here is how to train different back muscles by adjusting your torso position.

Positioning your torso parallel to the ground: You can make your upper body parallel to the floor by setting up a bench for a seal row or hinging at your hips for a bend-over row. Placing your torso parallel to the ground allows maximum attention to mid-back and lats development.

Positioning your torso 45 degrees to the ground: Set a weight bench at a 45-degree incline and lie face down on it. This placement enables traps, rhomboids, rear delts, teres major, and lats activation.

Positioning your torso upright: It will develop upper traps and neck. A dumbbell shrug is a classic example.

Dumbbell Back Exercises Workout

Not sure where to start doing back exercises at home with dumbbells? Need a dumbbell workout for your back the next time you hit the gym?

No problem; we’ve got you covered!

Do the following training program 1-2 times per week. If you do it twice, make sure you allow a few days for recovery and muscle growth, e.g., Monday and Thursday. Before you start, remember to warm up. A thorough warm-up will reduce your risk of injury and increase your workout effectiveness.

Jog or jump rope for 5-10 minutes, and then do a few joint mobility and dynamic flexibility exercises for the body parts you are about to train.

Pay extra attention to your lower back. Finish your warm-up with a few light sets of the first 1-2 exercises of the workout.

  Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Dumbbell bent-over row 2-4 6-12 60-90 seconds
2 Dumbbell single-arm row 2-4 6-12 per arm 60-90 seconds
3 Dumbbell plank row 2-4 6-12 per arm 60-90 seconds
4 Dumbbell chest support row 2-4 6-12 60-90 seconds
5 Dumbbell shrug 2-4 6-12 60-90 seconds
6 Dumbbell good morning 2-4 6-12 60-90 seconds

Watch the best dumbbell exercises by Fitness Volt experts below:

Dumbbell Back Workout For Beginners

Dumbbell-only back workout can help you make decent progress toward your fitness goal.

Not all exercises are created equal. While some are beginner-friendly, others require a decent amount of practice.

Our dumbbell-only back workout is specially curated for beginners, and it can help you build strength and improve your posture.

Make sure that you start with lightweight dumbbells and slowly progress your way to heavier dumbbells.

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest Period
1. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row 3 12 per arm 60 seconds
2. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row 4 10-15 90 seconds
3. Dumbbell Reverse Fly 4 8-10 60 seconds
4. Dumbbell Plank Row 3 8 per arm 90 seconds
5. Dumbbell Shrug 3 12-15 60 seconds

Dumbbell Back Workout Without a Bench

Don’t let the unavailability of a bench stop you from training your back. Here is how to train the back without a bench.

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest Period
1. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 4 12 90 seconds
2. Krock Row 4 10-15 per arm 90 seconds
3. Dumbbell Renegade Row 4 8-10 per arm 60 seconds
4. Dumbbell Good Morning 3 10-12 60 seconds
5. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk 3 12-15 90 seconds
6 Dumbbell Shrugs 3 10-15 60 seconds

Single Dumbbell Back Workout

Don’t have tons of weight at home? No worries, you can still achieve a lot with just one dumbbell.

We will not mention the rep range because your dumbbell size may differ. Train to failure. 

  Exercise Sets Rest Period
1. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row 4 90 seconds
2. Dumbbell Pullover 4 90 seconds
3. Single-Dumbbell Renegade Row 3 60 seconds
4. Unilateral Bent-Over Row 3 60 seconds
5. Dumbbell Good Morning 3 60 seconds
6 Single-Arm Shrugs 3 60 seconds

How To Intensify Workout Without Adding Weight? 

You need to follow the progressive overload principle to build muscle mass and strength. However, many lifters misinterpret the true meaning of progressive overload. You don’t necessarily need to lift heavier to witness progress. .

Ramping up the intensity can be a great choice to get stronger without adding more weight.

Intensifying your workout without lifting heavier is a great way to bring quality to your workout. Here are four ways to make your workout more effective:

1. Increase TuT (Time Under Tension):

Time under tension is the time a muscle is under tension during a set.

Many lifters are so obsessed with the amount of weight they lift that they completely neglect the TuT.

A 2016 study found positive benefits of greater time under tension. Test subjects were made to complete two training protocols, matched for intensity (% one-repetition maximum; 1RM), number of sets, number of repetitions, and rest intervals. One group was asked to perform the exercise with a rep duration of four seconds (two seconds concentric: two seconds eccentric; 2:2 protocol), and another group was asked to have a repetition duration of 6 seconds (two seconds concentric: four seconds eccentric; 2:4 protocol). (1)

The group that followed the 2:4 protocol with a rep duration of six seconds was observed to induce superior muscle hypertrophy.

Slowing down the rep tempo is a practical way to make your muscles work harder. Time under tension can be increased by slowing down the rep tempo or by holding the squeeze. 

2. Shorten the Rest Period

Shortening the rest period between sets helps improve muscular endurance and achieve better muscle pump.

According to a 2009 study, when the training goal is muscular hypertrophy, the combination of moderate-intensity sets with short rest intervals of 30-60 seconds might be most effective due to greater acute levels of growth hormone during such workouts. (2)

3. Add Volume

Adding volume is an effective way to increase workout intensity.

German Volume Training is a famous high-volume training method that offers serious strength and hypertrophy benefits. German volume training involves doing 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight, and the rest period should not be more than 90 seconds. 

High-volume training improves muscle strength and endurance simultaneously.

4. Range of Motion

If you aren’t following a full range of motion, you are leaving substantial gains on the table. Optimizing range of motion is key to achieving muscle hypertrophy.

Benefits of Training With Dumbbells

Frankly, dumbbells don’t get enough credit. Many lifters are naturally inclined towards barbell training because of the sheer amount of weight they can lift with a barbell.

Why does training with barbells feels easier than with dumbbells?

Although barbells are harder to load and unload, they are easier to lift due to better muscle stabilization. Dumbbells could feel heavier because they need greater muscle stabilization. Performing a lift with a dumbbell in each hand results in greater muscle stabilizer recruitment than lifting a barbell weight with both hands. Example: Performing a conventional deadlift with dumbbells requires more muscle stabilization and balance than doing the same deadlift with a barbell. 

Training with a pair of dumbbells might feel more challenging in certain exercises than using a barbell, but dumbbells offer added benefits. Let’s talk about some added benefits of training with dumbbells:

1. Dumbbells Are Joint Friendly

Dumbbells can take your training to the next level; you have an option for underhand, overhand, and neutral grip. Besides, you can alter the range of motion by changing the elbow position from wide to narrow. On the other hand, training with barbells allows a restricted range of motion because the actual axis of the barbell gets in the way.

When you grip the barbell, your wrists are locked in a certain position, which leads to a limited range of motion. Whereas, when you train with dumbbells, you can tweak your grip, elbow positioning, and scapular mobility according to the movement, making dumbbells a more joint-friendly choice. 

Locking yourself in a particular range of motion can be really stressful on weak joints. Dumbbells tackle this issue by supporting range of motion modification.

2. Better Mind-Muscle Connection

Are you someone who finds it challenging to feel the target muscle while training? Inexperienced lifters often find it difficult to establish a mind-muscle connection, especially when training their back. Unlike the chest, shoulders, quads, and biceps, the back is not a ‘mirror muscle’ as a lifter cannot look at the target muscle directly in the mirror while training.

Dumbbells enhance muscle contraction by allowing a natural movement pattern, grip, and load selection.

3. Train Unilaterally

Muscle imbalance can hamper athletic performance and increase the chance of injuries. Bilateral movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench press improve the overall strength but often amplify muscle imbalance.

Unilateral training involves using a single arm or a single leg, which not only strengthens the stabilizers but also uncovers a lagging muscle group.

Muscle imbalance can be corrected by introducing unilateral dumbbell training to your routine.

4. Easier to use

Dumbbells are easier to set up and train. You don’t need a spotter to rescue you from a failed rep. Plus, you do not need to spend time racking and re-racking the barbell plates.

Performing drop-set is way easier with dumbbells.

Related: Barbells vs. Dumbbells: Which is Best?

Back Anatomy

Back Anatomy

Back is a bit of an oversimplification of the muscles on the rear of your body. Your back is made up of several important muscles and muscle groups and, if you want to look your best from the rear, you need to train all of them.

The primary muscles that make up your back are:

Latissimus dorsi – known as the lats for short, this is the largest muscle in your back. It’s located on the side of your torso, and its primary functions are adduction and extension of the shoulder joint. When well-developed, it’s your lats that give your back its width and V-shaped taper.

Rhomboids and mid-traps – the rhomboids and mid-traps are located between and across your scapulae or shoulder blades. They give your upper back its thickness and also play an important role in posture and shoulder stability.

Upper traps – the upper traps are heavily involved in many upper back exercises. The upper traps are responsible for the elevation of your shoulder girdle. Shrugging movements are usually the best way to train your upper traps.

Posterior deltoids – it’s hard to train your back without hitting your rear deltoids too. That’s good news because, for a lot of lifters, the posterior deltoids are woefully underdeveloped and would benefit from some extra training.

Erector spinae – the collective name for the group of muscles that stabilize and extend your spine. You can use dumbbells to specifically target your lower back, but they’re often used indirectly, such as when you lean forward to do bent-over rows.

More Plyometric Training Tips

Whether you’re new to back workouts or seeking advanced insights, knowledge is key. Explore more articles on back training to enhance your strength and routine.

Wrapping Up

Whether you train at home or in a gym, dumbbells are a valuable and versatile training tool. You can use them to build muscle size or strength, or just improve your fitness and control your weight. There really is nothing dumb about dumbbells!

A lot of exercisers find that training with dumbbells causes fewer joint aches and pains, and they’re especially shoulder-friendly. Plus, they’re good for improving your balance, stability, and coordination too.

Use these 18 dumbbell exercises to build your ultimate back. From top to bottom and side to side, these dumbbell back exercises are tough to beat!


  1. Martins-Costa HC, Ribeiro Diniz RC, Vitor Lima F, Machado SC, Valle de Almeida RS, Pereira de Andrade AG, Chagas MH. Longer repetition duration increases muscle activation and blood lactate response in matched resistance training protocols. Motriz: rev. educ. fis. 22 (1) • Mar 2016. Doi: /10.1590/S1980-65742016000100005
  2. de Salles BF, Simão R, Miranda F, Novaes Jda S, Lemos A, Willardson JM. Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Med. 2009;39(9):765-77. doi: 10.2165/11315230-000000000-00000. PMID: 19691365.