10 Best Dumbbell Back Exercises To Build Mass and Strength

You don’t have to use fancy gym machines to get a sculpted back. All you need is a set of dumbbells, 20 minutes, and some motivation to get the same results.

If your fitness goal is to build a bigger and stronger back, doing back exercises with dumbbells is a highly effective option. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, these workouts will get the job done in less than 20 minutes.

Adding dumbbell back exercises into your routines helps you build the back muscle and strength you want, layering thickness in between your shoulder blades and throughout your upper and lower back.

In this article, we will share the following:

  • Back Anatomy And It Functions
  • 10 Best Dumbbell Back Exercises
  • Benefit of Doing Back Workout With Dumbbells
  • Training Volume including sets, reps, and Frequency
  • Sample Workout Plans

Back Muscles: Anatomy Of Upper, Middle & Lower Back

The back muscles consist of a complex group of muscles that work together to provide stability, movement, and support to the spine and upper body.

The back consists of several layers of muscle stacked like a sandwich. The muscles of the back subdivide into three categories.

Back anatomy

This Blog contains the description of the 10 best dumbbell exercises that focus on the back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi (lat), teres major, rhomboids, trapezius, and the deep spinal erectors.

The back workout plan is divided into dumbbell rowing exercises, deadlift, dumbbell pullover exercises, and low-back exercises.

Benefits of Back Workout With Dumbbells

There are a couple of important benefits of using dumbbells for your back training, such as:

  • Dumbbells back workout require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Dumbbells allow unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increase core stability, and improve muscular imbalances.
  • It allows for greater joint safety and stabilization and allows the joints to move naturally within their range of motion.
  • It affords a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout.
  • Back dumbbell exercises variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM), which leads to an increased number of muscle fibers recruited.
  • Back exercises with dumbbells are perfect for the at-home exerciser with the limited space.
  • But one of the best benefits of dumbbells is the ability to change up training variables such as Body positioning and Grip, which leads to a greater exercise selection.
  • With dumbbells, you can position yourself in a bent over position, prone position (lying face down on a bench), incline prone position, seated bent over position and so on.
  • Gripping variation is other benefits of back workout with dumbbells. You have underhand grip, overhand grip, neutral grip, and you can even do a rotated grip.

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Back

Dumbbell back exercises target the upper and lower lats, as well as the lower back muscles. Start with these dumbbell back exercises, which offer a good mix of accessibility and challenge.

Here are the 10 best dumbbell back workouts for building a massive back.

1. One-Arm Dumbbell Row

If you’re looking for straightforward dumbbell back exercises to add to your routine, the One-arm dumbbell row is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is an excellent full-range exercise to build the lat muscles. This helps to work on each side independently, thereby providing better muscle isolation and a longer range of motion.

It’s an excellent alternative to barbell rows. This exercise is done with a heavy dumbbell with your body supported by a bench.

One Arm Dumbbell Row Back Exercise

How To Do

  1. Grasp a dumbbell with palm facing in. Rest the opposite hand and knee on a bench, keeping your spine straight and just above parallel to the floor.
  2. Pull the dumbbell vertically upward alongside your torso, raising the elbow as high as possible.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbell as low as possible, feeling a good lats spread.
  4. Repeat on the other side.


  • Keep motion under strict control for better isolation.
  • It is important to avoid hunchback bending, as it can lead to injury.

2. Dumbbell Deadlift

The deadlift is the King of all exercises, and It is a powerful exercise designed to build an overall physique that uses more muscles than any other exercise.

The dumbbell deadlift is the best exercise for posterior chain muscle strengthening, which includes the back, erector spine, glutes, and hamstrings.

You can do the deadlift with either a barbell or a set of dumbbells. One of the biggest advantages of using dumbbells for deadlifts is that you can work with a wider range of motion than with barbell deadlifts.

Dumbbell Deadlift

How To Do

  1. Place a dumbbell in front of you. Grab the dumbbells with each of your hands.
  2. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible and contract your back and hamstrings.
  3. Raise the dumbbell from the ground using your hamstrings and glutes.
  4. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight, and head looking up.
  5. Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine.
  6. Hold the dumbbell for a moment at the top of the lift.
  7. Now, lower the dumbbell slowly at a steady slow pace by bending at the hips first and then at the knees and let the weight almost touch the ground for a moment before you begin the next rep.


  • If performed incorrectly, the deadlift can cause more harm than good. Keep the back straight at all costs.
  • The lower back muscles take a long time to recuperate; therefore, heavy deadlifts should only be done once a week.
  • Go full range of motion and keep the form correct.
  • Avoid jerky movements and keep motion-controlled.

3. Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug exercise is another great exercise for your dumbbell back workout, it is one of the best exercises to build bigger, stronger trapezius, upper back, and neck muscles.

This exercise can make your traps bigger, which is helpful when doing back poses. Being a stubborn muscle group for many, traps can be trained with a fairly high frequency during the week.

Dumbbell Shrug

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended by your sides.
  3. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your core engaged.
  4. Inhale and lift your shoulders towards your ears, making a shrugging motion.
  5. Hold the contraction for a second or two, then exhale and lower your shoulders back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, typically 8-15 reps for 2-3 sets.


  • Try not to move anything but your shoulders.
  • Inhale when you lower the weight and exhale when you lift.
  • Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind-muscle connection.
  • Don’t jerk or bounce the weight.
Related Post: Shrug Exercise: Benefits, Variations, Muscles Used, Tips

4. Dumbbell Upright Row

The Dumbbell Upright Row exercise is one of the best dumbbell exercises for the back that you can do during your upper body workout.

It is a compound exercise that targets your deltoids (shoulders) and traps (upper back) and biceps. It also activates the forearms for stabilization and support.

Using dumbbells in the upright row can help to increase unilateral muscle development and address any asymmetries and movement imbalances as well.

Dumbbell Upright Row

How To Do

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip (palms facing your body).
  3. Let your arms hang down in front of you, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine.
  5. Lift the dumbbell by pulling your elbows up and out to the sides, keeping them higher than your wrists.
  6. Keep moving up until the dumbbells are at chest height or your elbows are in line with your shoulders.
  7. Pause for a moment at the top, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  8. Then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  9. Repeat the desired number of reps and sets.


  • Remember to breathe out when you work hard.
  • Keep the dumbbell close to your body.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • You should keep your back straight.
Know More: Upright Row: Muscle Worked, How To Do And Form

5. Dumbbell Bent Over Row

If you are looking to strengthen the upper back with a dumbbell only workout and want to add massive muscle to the upper back region, then bent over dumbbell back rows is one of the best options.

It involves pulling the dumbbells towards your torso while maintaining a bent-over position, engaging the back muscles to perform the movement.

  • Pulling the dumbbell up higher toward the chest targets the upper latissimus and trapezius.
  • Pulling the dumbbell through a lower trajectory to touch the abdomen targets the lower lats.
Dumbbell Bent Over Row

How To Do

  1. Stand with a narrow stance and hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  2. Hinge forward at your hips while keeping your back straight
  3. Let your arms hang straight down towards the floor, with the dumbbells in front of your knees.
  4. Pull the dumbbells towards your torso. Try to bring the dumbbells to the level of your ribcage or a little lower.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Do not use more weight than you can handle. This fatigues your spinal erectors and says goodbye to form.
  • Keep movement always under control, without letting gravity take you down faster.
  • Avoid rounding your spine or arching your back excessively.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body as you lift.

6. Incline Dumbbell Row

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your back exercises, why not try an Incline dumbbell row?

The incline dumbbell row also known as chest-supported row, is an ideal row variation to get the best form, prevent mid-row rocking, reduce the risk of injury, and isolate the muscles you’re looking to build.

Keep your chest on the bench throughout the movement will eliminate momentum and work the muscles you want.

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

How To Do

  1. Adjust an incline bench and set it below 45 degrees.
  2. Your chest should be supported by the bench, with your chin above the top.
  3. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Let the dumbbells hang directly below your shoulders.
  4. Keep your palms facing each other and your elbows close to your body while you do this exercise.
  5. Now, pull the weights as high as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
  6. Hold this position for a second before returning the dumbbells to the starting position.


  • Keep movement always under control, without letting gravity take you down faster.
  • As you pull the dumbbells towards your body, don’t hyperextend the thoracic spine by pulling your entire upper torso off the bench.
  • Try to pinch your shoulder blades together at the top.

7. Renegade Row

The renegade row is also known as a plank row, which is almost a variation of the dumbbell row. It is designed to target the upper back. Like a plank, it is designed to target the core.

The renegade row is a multitasking exercise that tones your back and works your core, while also testing your balance and stability.

It’s the ultimate functional strength-training move that will give you a massive back.

Renegade Row

How To Do

  1. Place two dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Start in the top position of a push-up position with your hands on the weights.
  3. Pull right elbow back, raising dumbbell toward chest, keeping right elbow close to the torso, abs tight, and hips in one line.
  4. Hold for one second at the top and return the weight slowly to the starting position to repeat on the other side.
  5. Complete the desired number of repetitions.


  • Keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles as you row the weight.
  • Move the weight in a smooth, controlled motion.
  • You should do the same number of reps for each side.

8. Dumbbell Farmers Walk

The farmer’s walk exercise also called the farmer’s carry, is a strength and conditioning exercise.

During a farmer’s carry workout, you hold a heavy load in each hand while walking for a designated distance.

Farmer’s walk with dumbbells might be one of the best classic exercises and a move that man’s been doing since the beginning of time.

It allows you to accomplish a tremendous amount in a single exercise. This dumbbell workout is a must-have addition to your back workout regimen to build a strong and impressive back.

Dumbbell Farmers Walk

How To Do

  1. Deadlift a pair of dumbbells from the floor. Reach down, bending at the hips and knees, and grasp the dumbbells in each hand.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your side with a firm grip. Stand tall, keeping your shoulders, back, and core tight.
  3. Take small steps and walk forward at an even pace with your eyes focused straight ahead of you.
  4. Complete the desired number of steps, come to a stop, and place the dumbbells down while keeping a tight core and neutral spine.


  • Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades and tightening your abs.
  • Keep a neutral or straight spine throughout the movement to avoid injury.

9. Side-Lying Rear Fly

When doing a back workout with a dumbbell, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances. The side-lying rear delt fly is an upper back exercise used to target the rear delts and rhomboids.

It is a great unilateral exercise used to target a smaller and often lagging muscle group. Instead of lying on the floor, you can lie on a bench.

Side-Lying Rear Fly

How To Do

  1. Lie on the floor on your right side, and grasp the dumbbell with your left hand using a neutral grip (palm facing downward).
  2. Keeping your elbow fixed and your body still, exhale as you raise the dumbbell from the floor until it is almost vertical. Hold for a count of two.
  3. Inhale as you reverse the movement and lower the dumbbell towards the starting position, stopping before the dumbbell touches the floor.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Repeat the exercise on your opposite side with your right arm.


  • Do not allow the dumbbell to touch the floor.
  • Keep the abs braced, and don’t arch the back at the top of the movement.
  • Allow the arms to move freely, but don’t lock out the elbows.

10. Bent Over Rear Delt Fly

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective back workouts that you can do with dumbbells, try the bent over dumbbell rear delt fly.

It is one of the best dumbbell exercises you must add to your back workout regime to build stronger rear delt and upper back muscles.

This exercise can be performed in both a standing or a seated position. Prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.

Lateral Bent over row

How To Do

  1. Sit on a bench or chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your palms facing inwards.
  3. Lean forward from your hips while maintaining a straight back, allowing your arms to hang down toward the floor.
  4. Slight bend your elbows and raise your arms out to the sides in a wide arc.
  5. Continue the movement until your upper arms are parallel to the floor or slightly higher.
  6. Then, slowly lower the dumbbells back to their starting position.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Start with lighter weights to focus on technique and form.
  • Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner, emphasizing the eccentric (lowering) phase.
  • Exhale as you pull your arms back, and inhale as you come back
Know More: Rear Delt Fly: Muscles Worked, Benefits, Variations

Training Volume (Sets And Reps) For Back Workout

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:


  • Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
  • Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
  • Advanced: ~20 sets per week.

When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress. 


The best rep ranges and loads to work with.

  • 6-8 reps with heavy load
  • 8-15 reps with moderate load
  • 15-20+ with light load

The load should bring you to or near failure within the given rep ranges to be effective.

Note: The heavier and more challenging the weight, the fewer reps you need to perform and vice versa.

Training Plan As Per Your Goal

  1. For muscle endurance: Aim for 3–4 sets of 12–15 reps, with a moderate amount of resistance.
  2. For muscle strength: Aim for 3–5 sets of 6–10 reps, with a heavier amount of resistance.
  3. For muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size): Aim for 3–4 sets of 8–12 reps, with a moderate to heavy amount of resistance.

It is always best to start with a lower number of reps and sets, and then gradually increase as your strength improves.

Furthermore, it is important to allow for adequate rest between sets, typically 60–90 seconds.

Complete Back Workout With Dumbbell

Effective back training should incorporate a variety of exercises and target all the majors back muscles.

For a complete back workout and to build balanced strength, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing a variety of back exercises to specifically target your trapeziusupper, middle and lower back muscles.

Dumbbell Shrugs and upright rows are great exercises for building trapezius muscles.

Upper and middle dumbbell back exercises target the middle and lower trap, rhomboids, and lats. When choosing exercises for your upper back, you should include a variety of row exercises, such as dumbbell bent over rows and rear delt row.

The lower back can be targeted with exercises like deadlift and Renegade Row.

This dumbbell training routine for the back is designed to increase strength and muscle mass. However, the gains will be increased with the use of primary lifts like deadlift, Bent-Over Row.

Dumbbell Back Exercises Workout Samples

Beginner Back Workout Plan

If you’re new to lifting weights, don’t worry. This beginner-friendly dumbbell back workout routine is a great place to start.

When this becomes easier, you should pick a heavier weight.

After you’ve upped your weight several times and feel strong in the movements below, move on to the intermediate routine. Until then, you can follow this beginner back workout plan.

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows3-48-10
Upright Row3-48
Renegade Row48-10

Intermediate Back Workout

If you are an intermediate level or have outgrown the beginner routine, try the intermediate back workout routine below.

Dumbbell Deadlift48-10
Dumbbell Bent Over Row3-410-12
Farmer’s Walk4 AMAP
Dumbbell Upright Row38-10

Advanced Back Workout

If you are an advanced level athlete or have already completed the beginner and intermediate dumbbell back workouts, give the advanced routine a try.

Here, you’ll challenge more of your balance, stability, and strength

Dumbbell Deadlift36-8
Dumbbell Shrug3-410-12
Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise410-12
Renegade Row38-10
Side-Lying Rear Fly38-10

FAQ About Dumbbell Back Workouts

To conclude, let’s go over some frequently asked questions about training your back with dumbbells. 

What Dumbbell Exercises Work The Back?

In order to build a thick, wide, and muscular back, you need a variety of movements from a variety of angles. The dumbbell is an excellent tool for that purpose.

There are many dumbbell exercises that can be used to train the back muscles. Add the above-mentioned exercises to your back workout regime as per your fitness level.

Is Train Back With dumbbell Is Effective

Dumbbell back workouts strengthen your back muscles from your traps to your spine.

The movements target your erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, serratus, and trapezius muscles, all of which are involved in achieving your back goals.” 

How do you use dumbbells to work your upper back?

Your upper back’s main muscles are the traps and rhomboids. Dumbbell Shrugs, upright rows and bent over dumbbell row are great exercises for building upper back muscles.

How do you use dumbbells to work your mid back?

Your “mid-back” consists of your lats, traps, and rhomboids. You can do single arm rows or close grip dumbbell rows and Incline row to target your middle back with dumbbells.

How do you use dumbbells to work your lower back?

Your lower back muscles include your erector spinae and lat. You can do Dumbbell deadlifts and variations of deadlifts like RDLs and renegade rows to target your lower back with dumbbells.


These dumbbell back exercises and workout plan are highly recommended for anyone interested in building a wider back and wants to gain strength.

It not only allows for targeted muscle development, but also provides an overall massive back look. It is easy to do exercise and requires no more scientific details or fancy equipment.

Be smart: don’t limit yourself to dumbbell exercises. Get the benefits they offer and use other back exercises to supplement them when needed.

Dumbbell can be easily incorporated into any training program and can be particularly effective when used alongside barbells, machines, and cables to build the biggest, strongest back possible.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy your dumbbell exercises for the back!

Stay Fit, Live a Happy and Healthy Life

Best Dumbbell Back Exercises To Build a Bigger Back

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