Dumbbell Pull Workout: 20 Best Exercises to do on Pull Day

If you design the dumbbell push/pull/legs (PPL) workout program, you need a proper guide on PPL exercises. Having a list of the entire workouts, you’ll be able to design an effective workout program. I’ve already shared dumbbell push and leg exercises, and here I’ll hand out the best dumbbell pull exercises to do on your push day.

In this article, you’ll see a list of dumbbell pull workouts, how to do them step-by-step, what muscles they target, and how a pull day dumbbell workout routine looks.

This guide is for everyone. Whether you’re a male or female, beginner or intermediate, you can use all exercises to build muscles and improve your physique.

Dumbbell Pull Workout Muscle Worked

The dumbbell pull exercises work on multiple muscle groups, particularly the back, biceps, posterior delt, and forearms. So let’s take a look at each of them.

1. Back

The back is the largest muscle of the upper body. It is a group of four muscles, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, infraspinatus, and erector spine. The different dumbbell rowing exercises help strengthen all these muscles and build a defined back.

2. Biceps

The biceps is the second most engaged muscle during the dumbbell pull workout. It is made of two muscles, the long and short head, and to build bigger biceps, you’ll need to hit them both. Fortunately, the different variations of dumbbell pulling exercises, particularly the curls, sculpt your biceps and help build muscular arms.

3. Posterior Delt

The posterior delt is the rear portion of shoulder muscles that worked during the various dumbbell pull workouts, such as dumbbell face-pull, incline row, and seal row. Having a sturdy and sizeable rear delt adds definition to your entire back.

The Best Dumbbell Pull Exercises To Build Muscles

Below, I’ve made a list of exercises you can do on your pull day.

  1. Dumbbell Bent-over Row
  2. One-arm Dumbbell Row
  3. Dumbbell Seal Row
  4. Incline Chest Supported Row
  5. Dumbbell Deadlift
  6. Dumbbell Superman Pull
  7. Incline Plank Rowing
  8. Dumbbell Upright Row
  9. Dumbbell Pullover
  10. Dumbbell Face Pull
  11. Dumbbell High Pull
  12. Renegade Row
  13. Dumbbell Shrugs
  14. Dumbbell Bicep Curl
  15. Incline Dumbbell Curl
  16. Dumbbell Hammer Curl
  17. Concentration Curl
  18. Dumbbell Prone Lying Curl
  19. Dumbbell Zottoman Curl
  20. Dumbbell Drag Curl

Let’s see how to do each exercise step-by-step.

1. Dumbbell Bent-over Row

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BackDumbbells OnlyBeginner

The bent-over row is an excellent dumbbell pull workout that helps forge back muscles. It focuses on the entire back, from the traps down to the lower back.

How to do it:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hinge forward at your hips with a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Row the dumbbells at your sides by pulling your elbows back until your back muscles are fully contracted. Shoot for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps.

2. One-arm Dumbbell Row

pull dumbbell workout
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BackDumbbells and BenchBeginner

 Unlike the machines, this exercise allows you to perform rowing with a full range of motion.

How to:

  1. Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left knee and hand on the bench.
  2. Maintain a flat back and keep your right arm straight below your shoulder.
  3. Bringing your elbows back, pull the weight until your lats are contracted.
  4. Pause for a moment and return to the start. Go for the recommended sets and reps.

3. Dumbbell Seal Row

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Back and Rear DeltDumbbells, Box, and BenchIntermediate

If you are looking for a way to strengthen your upper back, the seal row may be a great move for you.

To do a dumbbell seal row:

  • Place the foot of the bench on elevated objects, and holding one dumbbell in each hand, lie on it with your arms straight down and palms facing each other. That’s the start.
  • Row the dumbbells at your sides until you feel the work in your back muscles.
  • Aim for three sets of eight to ten reps.

4. Incline Chest Supported Row

dumbbell pull exercises
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Back and Rear DeltDumbbells and BenchBeginner

To perform an inclined row,

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lie prone on a 45-degree incline bench with your arms straight beneath your shoulders.
  2. Pulling your elbows back, row the dumbbells at your sides until you feel the good work in your back muscles.

You can perform incline rowing in two ways, using the neutral and underhand grip. The neutral grip focuses more on your back muscles while the underhand grip works more on your rear delt and upper trap.

5. Dumbbell Deadlift

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Posterior ChainDumbbells OnlyIntermediate

The deadlift is one of the best pull exercises you can do at home with a pair of dumbbells. It is a compound workout that hits multiple muscles simultaneously, particularly the back, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. It promotes strength and growth and helps build a muscular physique.

How to perform the dumbbell deadlift:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand upright with feet hip to shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your arms straight with your palms facing the thigh.
  3. Bending your hips and knees, lower down until your glutes are below your hips and above your knees.
  4. Now, pushing through your feet, return to the standing position until your hips are forward. That’s one rep!
  5. Shoot for three to four sets of four to eight repetitions.

6. Dumbbell Superman Pull

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Posterior ChainDumbbells OnlyIntermediate

If you want to strengthen your lower back and lats at home, you can do a dumbbell superman pull. The dumbbell superman pull is an advanced workout that helps maximize your posterior chain muscles and minimize the risk of low back injuries.

This dumbbell pull workout requires no bench, you can do it while lying on the floor. You only need a pair of lightweight dumbbells and a little space in your home.

How to do it:

  • Holding a pair of dumbbells, lie on the floor with your arms straight in front of you and palms facing down.
  • Lift your chest slightly off the floor and pull the dumbbells in as close to your chest as possible.
  • Pause for a movement and bring your arms to the start.

7. Incline Plank Rowing

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Back and CoreDumbbells and BenchIntermediate

The incline plank rowing is an excellent exercise to simultaneously forge your back and core.

How to:

  • Place your right hand on a flat bench and extend your legs back to get into the plank position.
  • Grab a dumbbell in your left hand and hold your arm straight beneath your shoulder.
  • Now, pull the dumbbell in a rowing motion until you feel the work in your back muscles.
  • Your core should be tight and back straight during the entire exercise.

8. Dumbbell Upright Row

dumbbell pulling exercises
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Shoulder and BackDumbbells OnlyBeginner

The upright row is an excellent exercise for strengthening the shoulder and upper trap muscles. You can do this pull workout with dumbbells, barbells, and cables, depending on what you have. All variations are excellent and help you improve your upper body musculature.

To do the upright row,

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand upright.
  • Keep your arms straight against your things with your palms facing in.
  • Row the dumbbells toward your neck.
  • Pause and then return to the start.

9. Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell Pullover Chest Workout For Beginners
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Chest and LatsDumbbells and BenchIntermediate

The dumbbell pullover is one of the best dumbbell pull exercises that maximize strength and mass in the pectorals and latissimus dorsi.1 Effects of the Pullover Exercise on the Pectoralis Major and Latissimus Dorsi Muscles as Evaluated by EMG – Journal of Applied Biomechanics

Many bodybuilders perform this exercise as a finisher on their chest day, but you can also perform it on your pull day.

You can do the dumbbell pullover in several ways, such as an incline pullover and bent-arm pullover, but the standard one is the most effective.

How to do it:

  1. Holding a dumbbell with your hands, lie on a flat bench with your feet on the ground.
  2. Keep your head at the end of the bench, and extend your arms behind your head (with your elbows straight). That’s the starting position.
  3. Slightly lift your lower back off the bench, inhale and pull the dumbbell over you until it comes directly over your chest.
  4. At the top, Squeeze your chest and then return the dumbbell to the start.

10. Dumbbell Face Pull

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Traps and Rear DeltDumbbells OnlyIntermediate

The dumbbell face pull can be used as an alternative to the cable face pull as it also isolates the upper back and rear deltoid effectively.

To do the DB face pull, grab one dumbbell in each hand and hinge forward by bending your hips and knees until your torso is parallel to the floor and keep your arms straight downward. Now, pull the dumbbells toward you in a rowing motion until they are aligned with your ears.

11. Dumbbell High Pull

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Total BodyDumbbells OnlyIntermediate

The dumbbell high pull is an excellent total body pull workout that helps improve strength, muscles, and mobility.

To perform the DB high pull,

  • Pick one dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with keeping your arms straight against your thighs and palms facing in.
  • Lower into a squat position and then pull them toward your neck as high as possible.
  • Your spine should be in a neutral position throughout the exercise.
  • Perform each rep in a controlled fashion.

12. Renegade Row

pull workout with dumbbells
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Back and AbsDumbbells OnlyIntermediate

If you want to enhance your strength and mobility using a pair of dumbbells, consider doing the renegade row. The renegade row is an advanced dumbbell pull exercise that hits multiple muscles throughout the body and improves your body composition.

To do a renegade row,

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip and get into a high plank position with your arms straight underneath your shoulders.
  • Row the dumbbell at your side one by one for the recommended times.

13. Dumbbell Shrugs

pull day dumbbell workout
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
ShoulderDumbbells OnlyBeginner

The shrug is a pull workout that primarily strengthens shoulder and upper traps. You can do this on your pull day to build a defined upper body.

To perform the shrug exercise, holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand upright in the shoulder-width stance. Then, pull your shoulder blades toward your ears until your upper traps are entirely engaged.

14. Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BicepsDumbbells OnlyBeginner

The alternate bicep curl is an isolation workout that helps you develop burly biceps.

To perform this alternate curl, grab one dumbbell in each hand and curl your arm alternatively until your biceps are fully contracted.

15. Incline Dumbbell Curl

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BicepsDumbbells and BenchIntermediate

The incline curl is one of the best workouts to build bigger biceps. It’s one of the favorite exercises for many bodybuilders.

A study has also suggested that incline dumbbell curl is a preferable exercise to include in bicep training for achieving good results.2Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MA, Vieira TM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. J Sports Sci Med. 2009 Mar 1;8(1):24-9. PMID: 24150552; PMCID: PMC3737788.

How to:

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip, lie supine on a 45 to 60-degree incline bench. Keep your arms straight at your sides.
  2. Bring the dumbbells toward your front delt until your biceps are entirely contracted. That’s one rep. Aim for ten reps and complete two to four sets.

16. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Dumbbell Hammer Bicep Curl
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BicepsDumbbells onlyBeginner

The dumbbell curls hit the long head of the bicep muscles as well as work more on your forearms compared to other exercises. Doing it frequently with other pull exercises helps develop solid arms.

How to:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
  • Curl your arms until your biceps are fully contracted. Then, repeat the suggested repetitions.

17. Concentration Curl

pull exercises with dumbbells
Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BicepsDumbbells and BenchBeginner

How to:

  • Sit on the edge of a flat bench or a swiss ball.
  • Pick a dumbbell in your right hand and place the back of your arms inside your right thigh.
  • Slightly lean forward and do as many curls as you like.
  • Repeat an equal number of sets and reps on each side.

18. Dumbbell Zottoman Curl

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
ArmsDumbbells OnlyIntermediate

How to:

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand and keep your arms straight with your palms facing the thighs.
  • Twist your wrist as you curl your arm toward your front delt until your palms face your shoulder.
  • Again twist your wrist so your palms are facing forward, and return to the start.

19. Dumbbell Incline Prone Curl

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
BicepsDumbbells and BenchIntermediate

How to:

  • Holding a pair of dumbbells, lie prone on a 45-degree incline bench and keep your arms straight downward.
  • Curl your arms until your biceps are entirely engaged.
  • Uncurl your arms and repeat for the recommended number of sets and reps.

20. Dumbbell Drag Curl

Muscle WorkedEquipment NeededLevel
Biceps and BackDumbbells onlyIntermediate

How to:

  • Pick one dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip.
  • Next, curl your arms by driving your elbows backward until you feel the full contraction in your biceps.
  • Pause for a moment, then uncurl your arms and repeat the suggested reps and sets.

How Pull Day Dumbbell Workout Routine Looks Like

It’s important to pick the right exercises while structuring a workout plan. A workout program should include various exercises that hit the muscles differently and deliver the maximum results.

Anyway, I’ve already created a complete dumbbell PPL workout which you can download or do the following exercises on your pull day.

Plan A

ExerciseRepsSets
Dumbbell Deadlift6-81-2 min
Dumbbell Bent-over Row8-121-2 min
Dumbbell Superman Pull6-81-2 min
Dumbbell Face Pull8-121-2 min
Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl8-121-2 min
Concentration Curl8-121-2 min
Dumbbell Hammer Curl8-121-2 min

Plan B

ExerciseRepsSets
Dumbbell Bent-over Row6-81-2 min
Dumbbell Superman Pull8-121-2 min
One-arm Dumbbell Row6-81-2 min
Dumbbell Seal Row8-121-2 min
Incline Dumbbell Curl8-121-2 min
Prone Lying Curl8-121-2 min
Concentration Curl8-121-2 min

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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.