Bent Over Dumbbell Row

Bent Over Dumbbell Row

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 for a lean and cut back.

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 for a great looking back.

Table of Contents

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 less.

Notable benefits of the movement are that you can overload your back with more weight and train through a slightly longer range of motion. It’s also a great exercise that can be done at home or in the gym.

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)

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall with your arms straight.
  2. Lean your torso forward while maintaining a neutral back.
  3. 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.
  4. Pull both dumbbells up in one fluid motion until your elbows are at torso level.
  5. Squeeze at the top and slowly extend your arms as you exhale.
Bent Over Dumbbell Row

Muscles Worked

Primary

  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) – back width

Secondary

  • Erector Spinae
  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius (Traps)
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Infraspinatus
  • Biceps
  • Brachialis
  • Forearms

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:

ExerciseSets
Pull-ups3-4
Bent over dumbbell rows3
Seated cable rows3
EZ bar bicep curls3
Rope cable face pulls2-3

Single Arm Bent Over Rows

A variation of this exercise is performing bent over rows with one dumbbell. Also called single arm bent over rows.

This will allow you to load more weight, and use a heavier dumbbell. This is because you’re bracing your body on one side, which creates a lever allowing for more pull strength.

You will be working the same muscles, just a nice variation to mix things up.

Single Arm Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
Bent Over Dumbbell Rows One Arm

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.

Lastly, if you’re doing this exercise at home, always be cautious with the dumbbells. Dumbbells can wreak havoc on home furnishings if not handled properly, so always be very careful with dumbbells.

Summing It Up

The bent over dumbbell row is a great back exercise, with a focus on your lats (width). It can be done at home or in the gym, and should be part of any back workout regimen.

Some more great dumbbell exercises are the one arm dumbbell row, and dumbbell front raise to work your shoulders. The chest and tricep dumbbell workout is awesome to work your pecs and triceps at home, and for dumbbell tricep work you can’t beat overhead tricep extensions.

And for a good summary of the best of the best, check our Top 10 dumbbell exercises that cover all of the major muscle groups.

Also check our complete muscle diagram labeled to see what fits where. Know the details of muscle anatomy can improve your workouts, and keep you safer.

Click for more dumbbell workouts. or to see our video library of dumbbell exercises.

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David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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References

  1. 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
  2. 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

Click to see our medical disclosure.