You don’t have to use fancy gym machines to get a sculpted back. All you need is a set of dumbbells, 20 minutes, and some motivation to get the same results.
Back strengthening exercises and workouts using dumbbells are one of the best options if your fitness goal is to strengthen your back.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time, these workouts will get the job done in less than 20 minutes.
Adding dumbbell back exercises into your routines helps you build the back muscle and strength you want, layering thickness in between your shoulder blades and throughout your upper back.
It is especially true when you embrace dumbbell exercises for your back, such as farmer’s walk and powerful dumbbell rows and incline rows.
Back Muscles: Anatomy Of Upper, Middle & Lower Back
The back consists of several layers of muscle stacked like a sandwich. The muscles of the back subdivide into three categories.
- The upper back is made up of a large triangular-shaped muscle called the trapezius.
- The middle back consists of the latissimus dorsi.
- The lower back is made up of the erector spine muscles.
This Blog contains the description of the 10 best dumbbell exercises that focus on the back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi (lat), teres major, rhomboids, trapezius, and the deep spinal erectors.
The Dumbbell back exercises and workout plan are divided into dumbbell rowing exercises, deadlift, dumbbell pullover exercises, and low-back exercises.
Benefits of Dumbbell Back Exercises
There are a couple of important benefits of using dumbbells for your back training, such as:
- Dumbbells back workout require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
- Dumbbells allow unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increase core stability, and improve muscular imbalances.
- It allows for greater joint safety and stabilization and allows the joints to move naturally within their range of motion.
- It affords a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout.
- Back dumbbell exercises variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM), which leads to an increased number of muscle fibers recruited.
- Back exercises with dumbbells are perfect for the at-home exerciser with the limited space.
But one of the best benefits of dumbbells is the ability to change up training variables such as Body positioning and Grip, which leads to a greater exercise selection.
- With dumbbells, you can be positioning yourself in a bent over position, prone position (lying face down on a bench), incline prone position, seated bent over position and so on.
- Gripping variation is other benefits of back workout with dumbbell. You have underhand grip, overhand grip, neutral grip, and you can even do a rotated grip.
Best Dumbbell Exercises For Back
Here are the 10 Best Dumbbell Back workout that help to build massive back. Dumbbell back exercises target the upper and lower lats, as well as the lower back muscles.
Start with these dumbbell back exercises, which offer a good mix of accessibility and challenge.
1. One-Arm Dumbbell Row
If you’re looking for straightforward dumbbell back exercises to add to your routine, the One-arm dumbbell row is a great staple exercise to get you started.
It is an excellent full-range exercise to build the lats muscles.
This helps to work on each side independently, thereby provide better muscle isolation and a longer range of motion.
It’s an excellent alternative to Barbell rows. This exercise is done with a heavy dumbbell with your body supported by a bench.
- Grasp a dumbbell with palm facing in. Rest the opposite hand and knee on a bench, keeping your spine straight and just above parallel to the floor.
- Pull the dumbbell vertically upward alongside your torso, raising the elbow as high as possible.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell as low as possible, feeling a good lats spread.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Keep motion under strict control for better isolation.
- It is important to avoid hunchback bending, as it can lead to injury.
2. Dumbbell Deadlift
Dumbbell deadlift exercise is the best variation of the classic barbell deadlift. The deadlift is the King of all exercises, and It is a powerful exercise designed to build an overall physique that uses more muscles than any other exercise.
The deadlift is the best exercise for posterior chain muscle strengthening. This chain includes the back, erector spine, glutes, and hamstrings.
The deadlift can be performed using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. One of the biggest advantages of using dumbbells for deadlifts is that you increase the range of motion you can work with compared to barbell deadlifts.
Primary: Erector spinae, gluteals, hamstrings.
Secondary: Trapezius, lats, quads, forearms.
- Place a dumbbell in front of you. Grab the dumbbells with each of your hands. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible and contract your back and hamstrings.
- Raise the dumbbell from the ground using your hamstrings and glutes.
- You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight, and head looking up.
- Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine.
- Hold the dumbbell for a moment at the top of the lift.
- Now, lower the dumbbell slowly at a steady slow pace by bending at the hips first and then at the knees and let the weight almost touch the ground for a moment before you begin the next rep.
- If performed incorrectly, the deadlift can cause more harm than good. Keep the back straight at all costs.
- The lower back muscles take a long time to recuperate; therefore, heavy deadlifts should only be done once a week.
- Go full range of motion and keep the form correct.
- Avoid jerky movements and keep motion-controlled.
3. Dumbbell Shrug
The dumbbell shrug exercise is another great exercise for your dumbbell back workout, it is one of the best exercises to build bigger, stronger trapezius muscles.
This exercise can be done to thicken the traps, which really helps you in doing back poses. This is one of the best isolation exercises for trapezius muscle.
Primary: Trapezius, Lateral deltoid.
Secondary: Anterior deltoid, Infraspinatus
- Stand upright, keeping arms at sides and with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Raise your shoulders as high as you can, as if trying to touch them to your ears.
- Hold at the top for a moment, then release and return to the starting position.
- Repeat the desired number of reps.
- Try not to move anything but your shoulders.
- Inhale when you lower the weight and exhale when you lift.
- Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind-muscle connection.
- Don’t jerk or bounce the weight.
4. Dumbbell Upright Row
Dumbbell Upright Row exercise is one of the best two-arm dumbbell exercises for back that you can do during your upper body workout.
It is an excellent exercise to build huge Trapezius muscles and create that deltopectoral separation.
Upright Rows can be done with both narrow grips and wider ones. The narrow grip focuses on Trapezius, and the wider focuses on the entire shoulder girdle.
Furthermore, the wider grip allows for some cheating movement, which allows you to lift more weight.
Primary: Lateral deltoid, traps
Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus
- Hold a bar with a narrow overhand grip and let it hang in front of you.
- Lift the bar, get it as close as possible to the chin using your arms, and elevate your shoulders to squeeze your trapezius muscles.
- Now lower the bar under controlled motion until it comes back to its starting position.
- Repeat the desired number of reps and sets.
- Remember to breathe out when you work hard.
- Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
- You should keep your back straight.
5. Dumbbell Bent Over Row
If you are looking to strengthen the upper back with dumbbell only workout and want to add massive muscle to the upper back region, then bent over dumbbell back rows is one of the best options.
The dumbbell back row workout is a variation of the bent-over row.
Pulling the dumbbell up higher toward the chest targets the upper latissimus and trapezius.
Pulling the dumbbell through a lower trajectory to touch the abdomen targets the lower lats.
Secondary: Erector spinae, trapezius, rhomboids, rear deltoid.
- Stand with a narrow stance and a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
- Bend your torso forward at an angle of 45 degrees to the floor with knees slightly bent.
- Now use the back and raise the dumbbell until it touches the abdominal region and not the chest region as it reduces back muscle contraction.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell, keeping it in control to the starting position.
- Do not use more weight than you can handle. This fatigues your spinal erectors and says goodbye to form.
- Keep movement always under control without letting gravity take you down faster.
6. Incline Dumbbell Row
If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your dumbbell back exercises, why not try Incline Dumbbell Row?
The incline dumbbell row also known as chest-supported row, is an ideal row variation to get the best form, prevent mid-row rocking, reduce the risk of injury, and isolate the muscles you’re looking to build.
Keep your chest on the bench throughout the movement will eliminate momentum and work the muscles you want.
Primary: Latissimus dorsi.
Secondary: Erector spinae, trapezius, rhomboids, rear deltoid.
- Adjust an incline bench and set it below 45 degrees. Your chest should be supported by the bench, with your chin above the top. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand.
- Let the dumbbells hang directly below your shoulders. With your palms facing each other and your elbows close to your body.
- Now, pull the weights as high as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
- Hold this position for a second before returning the dumbbells to the starting position.
- Keep movement always under control, without letting gravity take you down faster.
- As you pull the dumbbells towards your body, don’t hyperextend the thoracic spine by pulling your entire upper torso off the bench.
- Try to pinch your shoulder blades together at the top.
7. Renegade Row
The renegade row is also known as a plank row, which is almost a variation of the dumbbell row. It is designed to target the upper back. Like a plank, it is designed to target the core.
The renegade row is a multitasking exercise that tones your back and works your core, while also testing your balance and stability.
It’s the ultimate functional strength-training move that will give you a huge back.
Primary: Lats and Chest
Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, teres minor.
- Place two dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Start in the top position of a push-up position with your hands on the weights.
- Pull right elbow back, raising dumbbell toward chest, keeping right elbow close to the torso, abs tight, and hips in one line.
- Hold for one second at the top and return the weight slowly to the starting position to repeat on the other side.
- Complete the desired number of repetitions.
- Keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles as you row the weight.
- Move the weight in a smooth, controlled motion.
- You should do the same number of reps for each side.
8. Dumbbell Farmers Walk
During a farmer’s carry workout, you hold a heavy load in each hand while walking for a designated distance.
Farmer’s Walk with Dumbbells might be one of the best classic exercises and a move that man’s been doing since the beginning of time.
The Farmer’s Walk allows you to accomplish a tremendous amount in a single exercise. Must add this exercise in your dumbbell back workout regime to build an impressive and stronger back.
Secondary: Glute, Hamstrings, Quads
- Deadlift a pair of dumbbells from the floor. Reach down, bending at the hips and knees, and grasp the dumbbells in each hand.
- Hold the dumbbells at your side with a firm grip. Stand tall, keeping your shoulders, back, and core tight.
- Take small steps and walk forward at an even pace with your eyes focused straight ahead of you.
- Complete the desired number of steps, come to a stop, and place the dumbbells down while keeping a tight core and neutral spine.
- Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades and tightening your abs.
- Keep a neutral or straight spine throughout the movement to avoid injury.
9. Side-Lying Rear Fly
When doing a back workout with a dumbbell, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances. The side-lying rear delt fly is an upper back exercise used to target the rear delts and rhomboids.
It is a great unilateral exercise used to target a smaller and often lagging muscle group. Instead of lying on the floor, you can lie on a bench.
Primary : Posterior Delt
Secondary: Lateral Delt, Infraspinatus, Rhomboids, Trap
- Lie on the floor on your right side, and grasp the dumbbell with your left hand using a neutral grip (palm facing downward).
- Keeping your elbow fixed and your body still, exhale as you raise the dumbbell from the floor until it is almost vertical. Hold for a count of two.
- Inhale as you reverse the movement and lower the dumbbell towards the starting position, stopping before the dumbbell touches the floor.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Repeat the exercise on your opposite side with your right arm.
- Do not allow the dumbbell to touch the floor.
- Keep the abs braced, and don’t arch the back at the top of the movement.
- Allow the arms to move freely, but don’t lock out the elbows.
10. Bent over Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective back workouts that you can do with dumbbells, try the Bent over dumbbell raise exercise.
It is one of the best dumbbell exercises you must add to your back workout regime to build stronger rear delt and upper back muscles.
This exercise can be performed in both a standing or a seated position. Prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.
- Sit at the end of a bench with a pair of dumbbells.
- Bend forward and let the dumbbells hang on your sides.
- Lift the dumbbells, raising them on your sides to a level slightly upper than your shoulders.
- Now lower the dumbbells back to your sides.
- Do not swing the dumbbells upward. Keep motion under control.
- Keep your back straight and your body still.
Training Volume (Sets And Reps)
Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:
- Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
- Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
- Advanced: ~20 sets per week.
When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress.
The best rep ranges and loads to work with.
- 6-8 reps with heavy load
- 8-15 reps with moderate load
- 15-20+ with light load
The load should bring you to or near failure within the given rep ranges to be effective.
Note: The heavier and more challenging the weight, the fewer reps you need to perform and vice versa.
Complete Back Workout With Dumbbell
Effective back training should incorporate a variety of exercises and target all the majors back muscles.
For a complete back workout and to build balanced strength, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing a variety of back exercises to specifically target your trapezius, upper, middle and lower back muscles.
Dumbbell Shrugs and upright rows are great exercises for building trapezius muscles.
Upper and middle dumbbell back exercises target the middle and lower trap, rhomboids, and lats. When choosing exercises for your upper back, you should include a variety of row exercises, such as dumbbell bent over rows and rear delt row.
The lower back can be targeted with exercises like deadlift and Renegade Row.
This dumbbell training routine for the back is designed to increase strength and muscle mass. However, the gains will be increased with the use of primary lifts like deadlift, Bent-Over Row.
Dumbbell Back Exercises Workout Samples
Beginner Back Workout Plan
If you’re new to lifting weights, don’t worry. This beginner-friendly dumbbell back workout routine is a great place to start.
When this becomes easier, you should pick a heavier weight.
After you’ve upped your weight several times and feel strong in the movements below, move on to the intermediate routine. Until then, you can follow this beginner back workout plan.
- Bent Over Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Shrug: 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Renegade Row: 3 sets of 15-10 reps.
Intermediate Back Workout
If you are an intermediate level or have outgrown the beginner routine, try the intermediate back workout routine below.
Regardless of how many reps your programming is calling for, you should be unable to complete the last one with proper form.
- Dumbbell Upright Row: 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Dumbbell Bent Over Row : 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Farmer’s Walk: 3 sets.
- Dumbbell Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Advanced Back Workout
If you are an advanced level athlete or have already completed the beginner and intermediate back workouts, give the advanced routine a try.
Here, you’ll challenge more of your balance, stability, and strength
- Dumbbell Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Barbell Shrug: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
- Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 4 sets of 8-10 reps.
- Side-Lying Rear Fly: 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
FAQ About Barbell Training & Back Workouts
To conclude, let’s go over some frequently asked questions about training your back with dumbbells.
What Dumbbell Exercises Work The Back?
In order to build a thick, wide, and muscular back, you need a variety of movements from a variety of angles. The dumbbell is an excellent tool for that purpose.
There are many dumbbell exercises that can be used to train the back muscles. Add the above-mentioned exercises to your back workout regime as per your fitness level.
Is Train Back With dumbbell Is Effective
Dumbbell back workouts strengthen your back muscles from your traps to your spine.
The movements target your erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, serratus, and trapezius muscles, all of which are involved in achieving your back goals.”
How do you use dumbbells to work your upper back?
Your upper back’s main muscles are the traps and rhomboids. Dumbbell Shrugs, upright rows and bent over dumbbell row are great exercises for building upper back muscles.
How do you use dumbbells to work your mid back?
Your “mid-back” consists of your lats, traps, and rhomboids. You can do single arm rows or close grip dumbbell rows and Incline row to target your middle back with dumbbells.
How do you use dumbbells to work your lower back?
Your lower back muscles include your erector spinae and lat. You can do Dumbbell deadlifts and variations of deadlifts like RDLs and renegade rows to target your lower back with dumbbells.
These dumbbell back exercises and workout plan are highly recommended for anyone interested in building a wider back and want to gain strength.
It not only allows for targeted muscle development, but also provides an overall massive back look. It is easy to do exercise and requires no more scientific details or fancy equipment.
Be smart: don’t limit yourself to dumbbell exercises. Get the benefits they offer and use other back exercises to supplement them when needed.
Dumbbell can be easily incorporated into any training program and can be particularly effective when used alongside barbell, machines, and cables to build the biggest, strongest back possible.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy your dumbbell exercises for the back!
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