Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Biceps, Lats, Lower Back, Shoulders
Target Muscle Group

Upper Back

Upper Back Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Bent Over Dumbbell Row Overview

The dumbbell row is a variation of the bent over row and an exercise used to build back muscle and strength.

The back is a muscle group that requires a fair amount of variation. So, experiment with several different angles and hand positions to maximize your back muscle growth.

Rows are a foundational movement pattern and are very important to train for balanced muscle growth and strength. So, experiment until you find a rowing variation that you enjoy and work on it.

The dumbbell row can be performed during your back workouts, upper body workouts, pull workouts, and full body workouts.

Bent Over Dumbbell Row Instructions

  1. Assume a standing position while holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  2. Hinge forward until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor (or slightly above) and then begin the movement by driving the elbows behind the body while retracting the shoulder blades.
  3. Pull the dumbbells towards your body until the elbows are at (or just past) the midline and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Bent Over Dumbbell Row Tips

  1. Experiment with head position and see which option (looking forward vs. packing the neck) works better for you.
  2. Keep some tone through your abdominals as you pull the dumbbells into your body to ensure you don’t arch excessively through your spine.
  3. Don’t allow momentum to dictate the movement, control the dumbbells throughout the entirety of each rep.
  4. If you feel your biceps being overused and your back remaining under active, consider utilizing a false grip (i.e. don’t wrap the thumb around the dumbbell).
  5. Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
  6. Similarly, ensure the shoulder blade moves on the rib cage. Don’t lock the shoulder blade down and just move through the glenohumeral joint.
Posted on: Sun, 04/07/2024 - 04:32

Is single arm or 2 arm db row better?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/07/2024 - 08:19

If you want to promote balance and stability, go with the double arm row. If you want to focus on each side and maximize power, go with the one arm row.

John Doe
Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2023 - 18:41

I feel this working my lower back and feel nothing in the upper back. I'm doing it exactly as instructed. Could I change something to make it work my upper back instead?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 06/03/2023 - 15:35

Do them on an incline bench face down. That could help because your lower back will be supported.

Posted on: Wed, 09/28/2022 - 12:29

nice form m8,thanks for the guides!

Posted on: Sun, 07/31/2022 - 10:55

Any exercise that use the cable pull machine to substitute the dumbbell rows? i don’t feel the rows working my lats and back that much. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as well

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 07/31/2022 - 11:04

You can do the single cable row from a low pulley. It will keep the tension throughout the exercise, and you can use one arm at a time.

If you don't feel it with any row, you can use a neutral grip lat pulldown, but I suggest taking the time to try to improve your connection with the rows as well. They're very beneficial.

Posted on: Wed, 09/09/2020 - 15:57

The "Target Muscle Group" image is broken on this page.

Ben Weaver
Posted on: Thu, 04/26/2018 - 14:17

Should I complete all sets of each exercise before moving on to the next one do one set of all exercises in the list and start at the top again and again until all exercises have had their appropriate number of sets?

Ben Weaver
Posted on: Thu, 04/26/2018 - 14:14

This workout routine has 4 sets of some exercises, 3 of others and then 2 of the rest. Should I go through 2 sets of all exercises first then one more set of all with 3 sets and then finish with a final set of those with 4 or should I do all sets of each exercise before moving onto the next exercise?

Wildcat Gary
Posted on: Fri, 12/15/2017 - 17:18

I'm new to lifting. This workout has 5 sets of bent over one arm rows, followed by 5 sets of bent over double arm rows. Is this intentional? Is10 sets for the same muscle too much? If not, why? Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 12/18/2017 - 08:52

Hi Gary,

Unsure what workout you are referring to, but no 10 sets of one body part isn't too much volume depending on your experience level.

Hope this helps!

Mads Christensen
Posted on: Sun, 05/03/2015 - 14:35

Also if you sit on a bench leaned forward while performing this exercise, using either dumbbells or weight plates, it works awesome aswell.

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2014 - 09:25

Yeah u can use a barbell instead, May provide u with a bit more stability.

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2014 - 18:40

Is there another workout that I could substitute instead of this one? I've been on this program for about five weeks.