Best Back Workout with Dumbbells

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Are you looking to build impressive back muscles, but only have dumbbells at your disposal? Then you’re in the right place. We’ll show you the best back workout with dumbbells to help you achieve the sought-after “tapered” back.

When you think of back gym workouts, you instantly think of heavy compound exercises such as deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows. Sure, those exercises are fantastic, but not everyone has access to the equipment needed for those exercises.

That’s where dumbbells come in. They can help you build an impressive back if you do the right exercises.

Here is the best back workout with dumbbells for every strength level – beginners and advanced lifters will benefit from this workout massively. We’ll show you the ideal exercises as well as sets and reps that have worked best for us in the past.

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The Best Back Workout with Dumbbells

Here’s how the workout will look like:

best back workout with dumbbells

Let’s take a closer look at how to do each exercise of this workout. Don’t forget to warm up your upper body before you start working out – especially the shoulder girdle!

Dumbbell Rows

Dumbbell Rows is the first exercise of this workout. It’s perhaps one of the greatest exercises you can do with dumbbells for your back. In essence, they are the same as the normal, standard rows you do with a barbell.

The only difference here is that you do it with dumbbells. This can actually be beneficial for targeting your back better, although the limitation here is that you can’t load up as much weight as you can on a barbell.

Start with your dumbbells in your hands. Then, twist your knees slightly and bend your upper body forwards. Keep your back straight, and start performing rows. Your arms should be at your shoulder’s width. Aim for 3 sets of 8-12 reps.


Dumbbell Pullovers

This exercise can be one of the best back builders. Although it might not look like it as you’re lifting the dumbbell over your head. Although it is true that you might feel some activation of your chest, you simply can’t ignore its muscle-building property for your upper back.

You can start with a lower weight to start off. Although once you do master the technique, you’ll want to consistently increase the weight that you manage to lift with this exercise.

Start by lying on a bench ideally. You can use an equivalent if you’re at home. Then, grab one dumbbell with both of your arms and put it over your head. Start the movement by taking the dumbbell behind your head, and lifting the dumbbell back to the neutral position. Go for 3 sets of 8-12 reps here.

Incline Rows

Rows are one of the best exercises for your back, especially if you only have dumbbells. In this case, you’ll need a bench. It will target your entire upper back, as well as your forearms and biceps.

This exercise is all about proper form, though. Make sure you master it well before you load it up too much.

Start by lying on your belly on an inclined bench. Then, take the dumbbells in your hands and start performing the row. The important thing here is to activate your scapula and retract it when you move your dumbbells up.

One-Arm Rows

One-arm rows are always meant to be done with dumbbells, and they often make our best list of back exercises even if we have other tools at our disposal.

Your posture when you’re doing the exercise is key here. You want to keep your back as straight as possible, and you should not follow your arm with your body.

Instead, pull the dumbbell with your arm to your armpit, and put it down. Keep your torso straight and also stationary. Make sure you also keep your back straight in order to activate your back muscles successfully, or else you’re training your arms.

W Raises

Too many people go about their back workouts without doing much for the stability of their shoulder joint. The W raise exercise will allow you to target your back AND improve the health of your shoulder.

It directly targets the rotator cuff exercise, which is directly responsible for keeping your shoulder compact. Coming from someone who’s suffered from multiple shoulder dislocations, you NEED to incorporate a movement like this in your back workout.

Romanian Deadlift

Lastly, we’re targeting the lower back, as we’ve done nothing for it so far. Romanian deadlifts are excellent with a barbell as you can load it up.

But dumbbells can work just as well. You can always pick heavier dumbbells to make the movement more challenging.

You should feel your lower back with this exercise, but also your glutes and hamstrings.

Bonus Exercise: Pull-Ups with Dumbbells

Still got enough in your tank? Then try this finisher exercise to round up this back workout. Pull-ups alone are great, but you can amp them up with a dumbbell.

What you need to do is place one dumbbell between your legs. Just keep it stable and make sure it sits nicely there. Do this exercise if you want to maximize the gains and finish the workout on a high.

Or if you have a belt, you can tie the dumbbell to the belt and wrap it around your hips like this (skip to 1:25 in the video to see how):


Build a Bigger Back Now

Do you like the workout? Then try it out for yourself and see just how effective it is for your back. You must always remember to target your entire back, not just the upper back. This is the key to a well-rounded, tapered back that everyone is trying to achieve.

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