The Best Back Workout with Dumbbells Only

Updated: Feb 10


The Best Back Workout with Dumbbells Only

Don’t have access to a row machine or barbell? You still can effectively target every muscle in your back! In this article, I’ll show you the best back workout you can perform with only dumbbells.


I’m going to teach you the 5 best dumbbell-only exercises for a well-defined and strong back. Here’s what I’ll go through:

  • The anatomy of the back

  • The exact dumbbell only exercises you can do to target the back

By the end of this article, you will have a dumbbell-only routine that you can follow at home or in the gym.


Before we dive in: if you’re looking for a full-body training program that is aimed at developing a strong and aesthetic physique, not just the back, you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build an aesthetic physique as well as an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


Click below to learn more information


 


Back Anatomy


The back consists of four main muscle groups: the trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae. When performing your routine, you should include compound movements that target multiple back muscles at once. Many people make the mistake of limiting their workouts to only isolation exercises.


If your goal is to get a more aesthetic back, then this way of thinking is not ideal. Performing only isolation movements would neglect some of the muscle groups within the back. To solve this, you should try to incorporate more compound exercises into your regimen to see better results.


Cues for Optimal Engagement


Before you begin exercising, you must understand some cues for optimal engagement of the back. A study found that, when performing a lat pulldown, a person can increase activation of the lats by being mindful of back-activation cues.


This idea of mind-muscle connection should be considered throughout your routine, no matter what muscle group you are targeting. It is consistently shown that focusing on specific movements and how they are performed can increase muscle activation. You must utilize this to your advantage when exercising so you get the most benefit out of your workouts.


In this section, I will give instruction on a few cues you should be aware of before beginning the dumbbell-only back routine.


RELAX YOUR SHOULDERS

When performing the dumbbell back workout, you should first focus on your shoulders and their position. Shoulders that are high and close to the ears can create tension in the body. This tension will overwork the upper trapezius muscles and place a lack of emphasis on the other back muscles.


Push your shoulders back and down to take the load off the upper trapezius muscle.


THUMBLESS GRIP

If your goal is to only target the back, then you should incorporate the thumbless grip into your exercises. You can do this by gripping the equipment in the way that your thumb is over the grip with your other fingers. The thumbless grip takes the bicep out of the movement and puts the focus more on the back muscles. View the imagery below to better visualize the thumbless grip technique.


These cues will help you better activate the back muscles during your routine. It is beneficial to also be aware of your posture and core engagement when performing these exercises.


If you want to build a strong foundation involving your core, you will benefit from one of our other articles. In this, we go over the 5 best exercises for the core and how to incorporate them into a complete workout routine. To find out more:


Click below to learn more information


 


Best Back Workout with Only Dumbbells

Exercise 1: Dumbbell Deadlift

Dumbbell Deadlift

The dumbbell deadlift is an all-encompassing exercise that works for multiple muscle groups at once. This movement targets a large portion of the back such as the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae. Also, it can effectively work the major muscles of the lower body like the glutes, hips, and hamstrings.

  1. Start by holding the bar or weight in your hands with a firm grip.

  2. Make sure your legs are about hip-width apart.

  3. Slowly bend your knees and move your hips back while keeping your back straight, making sure to keep your neck in a neutral position.

  4. Then drive your hips forward and straighten your back until you are upright.

  5. Make sure not to hyperextend your back and just return to a neutral position.

  6. Repeat.

Best Back Workout with Only Dumbbells

Exercise 2: Bent Over Row

Dumbbell Bent Over Row

The bent-over row is another staple back exercise. This movement is a great compound movement that can target all the major muscle groups of the upper and lower back: the trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae. It is also effective at working out the arms and muscles of the core.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge at the hips so that your body is slightly leaning forward.

  2. Grip each dumbbell with a neutral grip with your palms facing inward.

  3. Focus on the cue we mentioned earlier of depressing the traps. Keep the shoulders relaxed and push them away from your ears.

  4. Keep your core engaged and your lower back in a neutral position. Avoid too much arching or rounding in the lower back.

  5. Drive the elbows back and focus on engaging the muscles of the back.

  6. Lower the weight to the starting position.

  7. Repeat.

Best Back Workout with Only Dumbbells

Exercise 3: Reverse Fly


The Reverse fly targets the muscles within the upper back. The trapezius and the rhomboids are the main back muscles that are worked with this movement.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge at the hips so that your body is slightly leaning forward.

  2. Grip each dumbbell with a neutral grip with your palms facing inward. Have a slight bend in the elbows.

  3. Focus on the cue we mentioned earlier of depressing the traps. Keep the shoulders relaxed and push them away from your ears.

  4. Raise the weight so that your elbows are at shoulder height.

  5. Lower the weight to the starting position

  6. Repeat.

Best Back Workout with Only Dumbbells

Exercise 4: Lat pullover

Dumbbell Lat Pullover

This isolation movement is effective at targeting the lats. Since this is a dumbbell-only workout this is an effective alternative lat exercise that can replace pull-ups. This movement also targets the rhomboids and triceps.

  1. Lie on your back with your feet shoulder-width apart and your feet flat on the ground.

  2. Grip each dumbbell with a neutral grip with your palms facing inward. Press the weight above your chest.

  3. Focus on the cue we mentioned earlier of depressing the traps. Keep the shoulders relaxed and push them away from your ears. Keep the lower back flat against the ground.

  4. Lower the weight behind the head until it is almost at chest level. Have a slight bend in the elbows.

  5. Return the weight to the starting position.

  6. Repeat.

Overview


In this article, we have gone over the primary muscle groups that make up the back. We have also covered a dumbbell-only routine that you can follow to target these muscles effectively. Let's review the main points that we have learned:


Dumbbell Only Back Workout

  • Exercise 1: Dumbbell Deadlift (3-5 sets of 8-15 reps)

  • Exercise 2: Bent Over Row (3-5 sets of 8-15 reps)

  • Exercise 3: Reverse Fly (3-5 sets of 8-15 reps)

  • Exercise 4: Lat Pullover (3-5 sets of 8-15 reps)

Back Workout Cues

  • First, you should keep the shoulders relaxed. Depress the shoulders down and back from the ears.

  • Next, incorporate the Thumbless Grip for better back activation. Do this by forming a hook with your hands. Place the thumb over the grip alongside the other fingers.

In this article, you’ve learned the fundamental keys to building an aesthetic back with only dumbbells. This workout is portable and can be completed without the aid of other gym accessories. Although, to see the best results in the gym you must follow a full routine consistently.


For a complete routine check out our full-body training program that is aimed at developing a strong and aesthetic physique, not just the legs, you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build an aesthetic physique as well as an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


Click below to learn more information




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