The bent over dumbbell row is a great back workout, and can be done at home or in the gym. It should be part of any weight training plan to offer variation and muscle building.
And one huge benefit of weight training is that you can pick from various exercises, regardless of your available equipment. Even a pair of dumbbells can be enough to have effective workouts.
To that end, let’s review the bent over dumbbell row: one of the best back-building exercises you can do.
What Is The Bent Over Dumbbell Row?
Bent over dumbbell rows are a multi-joint assistance exercise designed to strengthen and develop the back.
Unlike barbell exercises, where both sides of your body work together, using dumbbells force each side to work independently. As a result, the risk of developing side-to-side muscle imbalances is smaller.
Notable benefits of the movement are that you can overload your back with more weight and train through a slightly longer range of motion.
Dumbbell rows primarily work the latissimus dorsi (lats), which is great for width. But they also develop the erector spinae, rhomboids, trapezius, rear deltoids, infraspinatus, biceps, brachialis, and forearms.
How to do Bent Over Dumbbell Rows (Step-By-Step)
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall with your arms straight.
- Lean your torso forward while maintaining a neutral back.
- Retract your shoulder blades, take a deep breath, and engage your abs. Your arms should be straight and hanging vertically, with your palms neutral (facing one another). This is the start position.
- Pull both dumbbells up in one fluid motion until your elbows are at torso level.
- Squeeze at the top and slowly extend your arms as you exhale.
- Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) – back width
- Erector Spinae
- Trapezius (Traps)
- Rear Deltoids
How Often To Do Bent Over Dumbbell Rows?
Two to three sets per session are enough to provide a stimulus and drive progress (strength and muscle gain). You can do more sets if you prefer, and if you feel that doing so helps you establish a stronger mind-muscle connection for better muscle activation. (1)
Regarding frequency, you can do the exercise one to three times per week, depending on your weekly schedule and training goals. Make sure to give your muscles at least 48 hours of recovery before training them again.
Exercises to Perform With Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
Bent over dumbbell rows are a fantastic exercise to add to your ‘pull’ workouts, where you train the upper body muscles involved in pulling motions––the back and biceps.
Good activities to do alongside dumbbell rows include bent over barbell rows, pull-ups, lat pulldowns, pullovers, seated cable rows, and bicep curl variations.
Here is what a pull workout might look like:
|Bent over dumbbell rows||3|
|Seated cable rows||3|
|EZ bar bicep curls||3|
|Rope cable face pulls||2-3|
Safety And Warm-Up
Safety, good progression, and optimal performance come down to two primary things: a proper warm-up and good training form. (2)
First, always take the time to prepare your body before training. Do some light cardio, proceed to some dynamic stretching, and perform several warm-up sets, where you gradually increase the training difficulty.
Second, use the correct dumbbells that allow you to do at least 8 to 10 smooth reps with a full range of motion. Jerking heavy weights around would stop you from training your back as effectively and might put you at a higher injury risk.
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- Falk, M. (2022, November 23). How a strong mind-muscle connection can take your workouts to the next level. Shape. https://www.shape.com/mind-muscle-connection-6829315
Department of Health & Human Services. (2007, July 25). Physical activity – how to get started. Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/physical-activity-how-to-get-started