Dumbbell Back Workout: The 10 Best DB Exercises for Strong Back

For those who work out with dumbbells at home, I’ve got a complete list of dumbbell back workouts with how-to instructions, their benefits, and an at-home DB back workout routine.

I have created this list after researching and analyzing which dumbbell exercise works best for the back muscles. So, if you’re one of the fitness freaks who is looking for the best dumbbell exercises for the back, check this out.

Almost every fitness enthusiast wants to have a bigger and V-shape back. But it’s very difficult to achieve it as it requires great strength, consistency, and proper nutrition.

However, there are plenty of back workouts available you can do with only dumbbells that may help you bring closer to your goal without machines and barbells.

Although, mix back workouts like dumbbells, machines, and barbell exercises will be more effective and help you build a strong back.

Back Muscles Anatomy For Bodybuilding

First of all, we need to know the basic anatomy of the back muscles for bodybuilding.

Primarily, there are six major muscles where you need to work on. Below I have listed all of them with their primary functions.

Dumbbell Back Workout: Back Muscles Anatomy For Bodybuilding
DB exercises for the back: Anatomy of Back Muscles
  • Middle trapezius: The middle trapezius helps to bring back the shoulder blades toward the spine. The middle traps also engage and activate while doing different arms and shoulders workout.
  • Erector spinae: The function of the erector spinae muscles is to straighten the back and improve flexibility. This muscle is important to activate consistently. Because any injury or strain to these muscles may cause back pain.
  • Infraspinatus: The infraspinatus function as a rotator cuff muscle and provides stability to the shoulder joints. This stabilization allows for the large deltoid muscles to further elevate the arm.
  • Latissimus dorsi: The Latissimus dorsi also know as lats that activated during rowing, pull-ups, pulldown, and chin-ups. It helps with the breathing process and shoulder flexion.
  • Upper trapezius: The upper trapezius located on top of your shoulders. The lower trap and the upper trap together help shoulders blades to rotate in different directions while doing different exercises such as lateral raises, upright row, etc.
  • Lower trapezius: The lower traps act just opposite of the upper traps. Instead of bringing shoulder blades upwards, the lower traps bring them down.

If you want your back to look attractive on shirts and t-shirts, so you’ll have to hit the right muscles with the right exercises in the right way.

Below are the best dumbbell back exercises you can do at home to target, build and strengthen your back muscles.

You may also like: 6 Dumbbell Workouts For Lower Back

The Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises For Back Muscles


1. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Trap and Infraspinatus

DB Back Workout

How to do Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

  • Stand and hold one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. palms facing each other.
  • Slightly bent your knees and brace your core. That’s the starting position.
  • Row the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms being parallel to your body.
  • Then slowly lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Keep your back straight and remain bent over during the entire movement.

Benefits of Dumbbell Bent-Over Row exercise:

According to a study of Ace fitness organization, the Dumbbell Bent-Over Row exercises mainly activated the middle trap muscles and build a stronger back. It also targets the lower traps, infraspinatus, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres major, teres minor, and posterior deltoid.


2. Dumbbell Underhand Inverted Row

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Traps and Lats

How to do a Underhand Dumbbell inverted row

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart; holding a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip. palms facing upwards.
  • Slightly bent your knees and brace your core. That’s the starting position.
  • Row the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms being parallel to your body.
  • Hold for a second and slowly lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Keep your back straight and remain bent over during the exercise. 

Benefits of Dumbbell inverted row exercise

According to a study of Ace fitness organization, the inverted row exercises also target the middle trap muscles and build a stronger back. The other targeted muscle is the Latissimus dorsi and the least targeted muscles are lower traps, infraspinatus, teres major, teres minor, and posterior deltoid. Along with these the inverted row enhances grip strength and arms power.


3. Dumbbell Incline I-Y-T Raises

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Entire Back

Other targeted muscle: shoulders

How to perform I-Y-T Raises

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells in your hands and lay down on your stomach on an incline bench (30 to 45-degree incline)
  • Extend your arms straight towards the ground, with the palms facing inward. forming the letter “I”
  • Raise the dumbbells toward the ceiling. Hold for a couple of seconds and then slowly lowered them back toward the ground.
  • Form the letter “Y” by raising the dumbbells at a 45-degree angle pointing toward the ceiling while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for a couple of seconds and then slowly lowered them back toward the ground.
  • Form the letter “T” by raising the dumbbells out to the sides by extending your arms fully. So that they form a 90-degree angle and your palms facing forward. Hold for a couple of seconds and then slowly lowered them back toward the ground.
  • Complete 10 reps of 2 or 3 sets with 2 minutes gap between every set.

Benefits of I-Y-T Raises movement

This I-Y-T Raises or triple flies is an advanced compound exercise that activates many muscles at one time. It enhances the endurability and increases muscle strength. You can also perform without weight.


4. Incline Plank Row Hold

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Back and Core

How to do Elevated plank row hold (complete guide on Menshealth)

  • Get into an incline plank position by placing your left elbow on a bench. Feet slightly apart.
  • Keep your core tight and back straight, so your body forms a straight line from head to heels.
  • Grab a dumbbell in your right hand with a neutral grip. This is your starting position.
  • Now, row the dumbbell until your back muscles got fully engaged.
  • Hold in the same position for as long as you can endure and then return to the start.
  • Repeat with another arm and complete as many reps as you like.

Benefits of Incline Plank Row Hold

Plank is basically a core strengthening workout. However, dumbbell isometric hold in an incline plank row can be effective for the back. You can try it yourself and see if it works on your back muscles or not.

Related: The 15 Best Bodyweight Back Workouts At Home

5. Dumbbell Wide Row Workout For Back

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Middle Traps and Lats

Other targeted muscle: Lower traps and Infraspinatus.

How to do Dumbbell Wide Row

  • Stand and hold one dumbbell in each hand in front of your knees. palms facing your body.
  • Slightly bent your knees and brace your core. That’s the starting position.
  • Row the dumbbells out to the sides in a wide arc, similar to how you pull a barbell using a wide grip.
  • Hold for a second or two, then slowly lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Keep your back straight and remain bent over during the exercise.

Benefits of Dumbbell Wide Row exercise

The dumbbell wide row highly activated the upper and the middle back muscles. This also targets the lats when you row the dumbbell out to sides of your body.


6. One Arm Dumbbell Plank Rowing

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Back and Core


How to do One-Arm Dumbbell Plank Rowing

  • Get into an elevated plank position by putting your right hand on a bench (arm fully extended).
  • Keep your toes firmly on the ground, feet shoulder-width apart, and maintain a flat back.
  • Brace your core and grab a dumbbell with your left hand with a neutral grip and let it hang beneath your left shoulder. This is your starting position.
  • Now, squeeze your back muscles to row up until the dumbbell reaches your obliques.
  • Pause for a second and then lower the dumbbell to the start. That’s one repitition.
  • Do three sets of 10 reps each (each side).

Benefits of Incline Single-arm Dumbbell Plank Rowing

Incline dumbbell plank rowing is one the best compound movement for the upper body. It not only strengthen your back muscles but also enhances core strength that helps in heavy lifting like deadlifting and squats.


7. Kneeling One Arm Dumbbell Row

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Latissimus dorsi

Other targeted muscle: Trap and Infraspinatus

Best DB Exercises For Strong Back
Kneeling One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Pic credit: Everkinetic / CC BY-SA (Edited)

How to do Kneeling One Arm Dumbbell Row

  • Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left knee and left hand on a flat bench.  Keep your right foot flat on the ground.
  • fully extend your right arm below your shoulder toward the floor. That’s the starting position.
  • Start rowing the dumbbell out to the side until being reached at the abdomen level.
  • Hold for a second or two, then slowly lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets for each hand, with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Keep your core muscles activated at all times.

Benefits of Kneeling One Arm Dumbbell Row

The dumbbell row strengthens various muscles including the upper back, the latissimus Doris, and the posterior shoulder. It also improves grip strength and shoulder posture. So, if you have only one dumbbell at home, do this single dumbbell exercises for the back.


8. Dumbbell DeadLift

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Back and Leg

Best Back workout with dumbbells
Dumbbell DeadLift
Pic credit: Everkinetic / CC BY-SA (Edited)

How to perform Dumbbell DeadLift

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip, palms facing the body.
  • Hinge forward at your hips and slightly bend your knees.
  • Start lowering the dumbbells toward the floor by keeping your back straight.
  • Hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly lift the dumbbells to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Do it smoothly, keep the dumbbells as close as to your during the exercise.

Benefits of Dumbbell Deadlift

The dumbbell deadlift activated various muscles group from quads and glutes to shoulders and back at one time. This is also effective for core muscles and improves body posture.


9. Dumbbell Bent Over Reverse Back Fly Workout

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Middle Traps and LatsBent-Over Reverse Back Fly

How to perform Bent Over Reverse Back Fly

  • Stand and slightly bend your knees holding the dumbbells in front of your legs. Palms facing each other.
  • Raise the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms being parallel to your body.
  • Then slowly lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Keep your back straight and remain bent over during the exercise.

Benefits of Reverse Back Fly

The Reverse Back Fly targets and activated the lower back and the posterior deltoid muscles as well as other muscles of the upper body. As per a study, reverse fly exercises are an effective way to reduce pain and disability in the neck and shoulder.


10. Dumbbell Bend To Opposite Foot Back Workout

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Focus: Strength

Main targeted muscle: Back, Oblique and Leg

How to do Bend to Opposite Foot

  • Stand straight shoulder-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with keeping your arms straight.
  • Lower the dumbbell of your left hand toward your right foot.
  • Hold for a sec then return to the starting position and again lower your right hand toward your left foot and hold for a sec and then return to the standing position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 2 minutes gap between every set.

Dumbbell Back Workout Routine at Home

Here is a sample of a back workout routine that you can do with dumbbells at home. It included a total of 8 exercises for a duration of 60 minutes.

  • Dumbbell Incline I-Y-T Raises
    • 3 sets of 6 reps each
  • DB Bent-Over Row
    • 3 sets of 8 reps each
  • Dumbbell DeadLift For Back
    • 2 Sets of 10 reps each
  • DB Wide Rowing
    • 3 sets of 10 reps each
  • Kneeling One-Arm Dumbbell Row
    • 3 sets of 10 reps each
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Plank Rowing
    • 2 sets of 10 reps each
  • DB Bent Over Reverse Back Fly
    • 3 sets of 10 reps each
  • Incline Plank Row Hold
    • 2 sets of 20 Seconds Hold each side
    • 1 minute 20 seconds

Final Words

Dumbbells allow a greater range of motion, so you can target the muscles you want. With the help of dumbbells, you can focus on your weak parts of the muscles and you can improve strength. If using the barbell causes any discomfort or pain to the wrist, elbow, and shoulder, then it is wise to switch to dumbbells. Because dumbbell back workkout also strengthen back and build muscles.

As per the study, muscles growth stops at a specific time. After that, your body needs a proper diet and supplement along with workouts to grow your body mass. Make sure you add nutrition to your workout program for better results.

Featured Image Credit: Freepik

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