Back Workout with Dumbbells: 7 Best Beginner Back Workouts

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  • Back Workout with Dumbbells
  • Back Workouts With Dumbbells Only
  • Why Is The Back So Important?
  • Muscles Groups Used in Back Workout with Dumbbells
  • These are the 7 basic beginner back workouts with dumbbells only
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Row
  • Incline Row
  • Lat Pull Over
  • Reverse fly
  • Upright Row
  • Alternating Kneeling Single Arm Row
  • Shrugs
  • Back Workouts With Dumbbells At Home

Back Workout with Dumbbells

Why try a back workout with dumbbells? The back is an often forgotten and neglected muscle group for many of us trying to gain lean muscle and hit the gym. Many men will gravitate toward the chest and the arms.

I can’t judge though. Who doesn’t want a large, powerful chest and arms busting out of our sleeves?

All men want this.

We don’t often think of our back, and want to hit the gym with that in mind. You can’t really even see your progress in the mirror. So, what’s the big deal? Well, it is a big deal.

The back is more important than you think.

Back Workouts With Dumbbells Only

If you’re a total beginner, then a back workout with dumbbells are a great way to start. Don’t feel ready for the gym? That’s fine too.

If you have dumbbells and a bench, these exercises could easily be done at home.

I want to show you how you can start working on a massive back today, using workouts with dumbbells only.

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Why Is The Back So Important?

Back pain is a growing concern for many Americans. According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Americans as a whole, spend 50 billion each year on back pain.

50 billion dollars

The average American lifestyle encourages back pain. This is a huge reason why incorporating these 7 exercises into your at-home, or gym routine is essential.

Muscles Groups Used in Back Workout with Dumbbells

Let’s get our science on for a minute.

There are essentially five major muscle groups of the back and they all serve a complex purpose to keep our spine stabilized, affecting our posture and so-forth. Here are the five major muscle groups:Latissimus Dorsi

This is the muscle commonly referred to as the “lats”. Many of our dumbbell workouts will focus on this muscle group. Why? Because when we grow this muscle you will notice.

This is what will widen your back and give you the “wings” of your back that you can flare and see in the mirror.

You can see the lats here, below the armpits. They “flare out” when flexed.

In addition to adding to the aesthetic of our body, growing our lats, or excuse me, Latissimus Dorsi, will help to improve many of our other pulling movements.In other words, if you want to have a bigger back that also helps your other lifts, the lats are what you want to focus on.


Going from the lats to the rhomboid isn’t as exciting. You can’t see the rhomboid. It’s tucked underneath your traps in the upper back. However, the Rhomboid plays a huge roll in stabilizing the scapulae (for a simpleton like me, that would be the shoulder blades).


Another muscle group of the back that you have probably heard of. The trapezius or “traps” as they’re commonly referred to.

The traps will be located between the shoulders and the neck.

When I was younger, I liked watching WWE (or WWF as it was called then). I was always fascinated how these huge guys had these muscles that looked like, to me, they arched from the shoulder all the way up their neck.

Think this dude.

Those are the trap muscles, as I later learned.If you are wanting to build a massive back that shows, the traps are another muscle group we need to focus on.

Teres Muscle

The Teres Muscle is located beneath the lats. But this muscle is EXTREMELY important to a ton of other compound lifts that are important. No, you won’t really see this muscle, but here is a list of lifts that use this muscle:

Shoulder Presses

You can see why the Teres Muscle is so important. By strengthening this muscle, we are going to improve many other lifts that are important.

Erector spinae

Yet another muscle group from the not-so flashy files.

The Erector Spinae is responsible for your posture, along with straightening and rotating your back. The Erector Spinae muscles are deep tissue muscles, and again, are key in improving our posture.

If you have bad posture, slumped forward shoulders, etc., building a stronger back along with the Erector Spinae is going to help you out with that.

The muscles in the back are responsible for most of the pulling movements we make. Which makes sense, if you are following the push-pull workout method.

Whew. That’s the back in a nutshell. Congrats, you’ve survived the nerd session.

Before we jump in, I do want to point out one thing. When choosing your weight for a back workout with dumbbells, whether you’re in the gym or at home, keep the ego in check.

Choose a weight that is manageable. Remember, we want to control the weight, not let the weight control us.

Since we are focusing on the back, you should be extra mindful of this. Who cares who you impress with heavy weights? If you aren’t actually performing the workout correctly and if you injure yourself in the process, then what?

Just saying.

Learn how to do these workouts with proper form and control the weight. Then move up once you become a badass.

These are the 7 basic beginner back workouts with dumbbells only
Dumbbell Bent Over Row

What muscles it works:

Lats, rhomboids, erector spinae

Rep Range:

3 sets of 8-12 reps each

How it’s done:

If you’re at the gym, grab a bench and the dumbbell of your choice.

Square your hips and shoulders to the ground.

Bend at the waist, keeping your back straight.

With both hands, pick-up the dumbbells and raise it to your hip.

Imagine putting the dumbbell in your pocket.


Incline Row

What muscles it works:

Lower lats, rhomboids

Rep Range:

3 sets of 8-12 reps each

How it’s done:

Grab a bench and make sure it will incline.

Incline the bench to a 45-degree angle, or about half way.

Lay on the bench face down, with your chest against the pad.

Place the dumbbells on the ground directly below you.

The incline row will isolate the lower lats. Since you are laying on the bench, this will reduce the urge to swing your body for momentum when raising the dumbbell to your body.

Reach down with both arms and grab the dumbbells, bringing the dumbbells up almost parallel to your chest.

Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together when you bring the dumbbells to your body.


Experiment with the angle of the bench. You can alternate between a 30-degree and a 45-degree angle.


Lat Pull Over

What muscles it works:

Lats, Rhomboids

Rep Range:

3 sets of 8-12 reps

How it’s done:

Using a flat bench, lay flat on your back with your feet planted on the floor.

Hold a single dumbbell between both hands, extended straight out above your chest.

Slowly lower the dumbbell back behind your head. Keep your shoulders slightly bent.

Focus on engaging your lats through the entire movement.

You should feel a slight stretch in your lats during this movement.


Reverse fly

What muscles it works:

Rhomboids, erector spinae, traps

Rep Range:

3 sets of 8-12 reps

How it’s done:

Stand or sit, preferable in front of a mirror, with feet shoulder width apart and bending slightly at the waist.

Take a dumbbell in each hand.

Starting point should be arms hanging to your sides with palms facing in.

Pull your arms apart and raise to parallel position.

You should focus on squeezing your middle back and holding at the top of the movement.


Upright Row

What muscles it works:

Traps, rhomboids

Rep Range:

4 sets of 8-12 reps each

How it’s done:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing toward your body and in front of your legs.

Keeping the dumbbells together, pull them up to even with your collar bones, bending at the elbows.

At the top of the movement, your elbows should be even with your ears.


Alternating Kneeling Single Arm Row

What muscles it works:

Lats, Traps, Rhomboids

Rep Range:

3 sets of 8-12 reps

How it’s done:

Start with a dumbbell in your right hand.

Kneel on a flat bench with your left knee.

Extend your right leg straight back behind your body. Keeping your foot on the floor.

Hold the dumbbell down toward the floor with your arm fully extended.

Place your left arm on the bench to support your body. You should be bent at the waist.

Pull the dumbbell, or “row” the dumbbell up to your body, even with your rib cage.

Focus on keeping the dumbbell close to your side as you row it up to your body.



What muscles it works:

Lats, rhomboids, traps

Rep Range:

4 sets of 8-12 reps

How it’s done:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides.

Raise your shoulders up to your ears. Hold at the top of the movement.

Focus on raising your shoulders only during each movement, just like you are shrugging your shoulders.

Back Workouts With Dumbbells At Home

If you do decide to incorporate a back workout with dumbbells at home, I would suggest grabbing a nice adjustable dumbbell set. In the past I’ve used the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable weights.

They give the full range of dumbbells you would ever need at home in a compact, space efficient design. They come as a pair too so you can do all of the outlined workouts above.

Check this out if you want a good dumbbell set for at home.

BowFlex SelectTech Adjustable Weights

The Bottom LineEvery one of us, spends a lot of time each day, staring down at our smart phone, hunched over the steering wheel while driving in our car or sitting at a desk for work. There are plenty of opportunities, to ruin our posture and strain our back.

Everyday life can take a toll on our body, and probably more than we realize.

Using a back workout with dumbbells can be of great benefit just for quality of life purposes. On the other hand, for a beginner wanting to look better, the back is a great place to start.