How to Exercise the Back Muscles Using Dumbbells

Dumbbells provide a challenging back workout.

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Dumbbells are a versatile piece of equipment. They range in weight levels and sizes, and are easily stored when not in use. You can also purchase a set of adjustable dumbbells that allow you to add different amounts of weight. You can train your back for muscle development and strength by using dumbbells.

Dumbbell Row


With a dumbbell in each hand, lower your upper body by bending at the waist. Stop once you have reached a 30- to 45-degree angle. Do not round or hyperextend your back. Keep your arms extended at your sides.


Pull the dumbbells up until they are at chest level by flexing your elbows.


Return to the starting position by fully extending your arms and shoulders to the ground.


Repeat for a total of 10 to 12 repetitions. Complete two to three sets of this exercise.

Dumbbell Pullover


Go to your bench. Grab one dumbbell before lying down with your upper back perpendicular to the bench.


Your lower back and hips should hang off the bench and remain slightly flexed.


Hold the dumbbell with both hands over your chest. Lift the dumbbell over your head by extending your arms. Keep your elbows slightly bent.


Lower the dumbbell past your head toward the ground. Stop when the bottom of the dumbbell is hovering just about the ground. This is one repetition.


Complete 10 to 12 repetitions of this exercise. Do a total of two to three sets.

Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise


Grab two dumbbells in each hand with palms facing each other. Bend at the knees and lower your upper body towards the ground. Stop just before your upper body makes a 90-degree angle.


Raise your upper arms straight to the sides until your elbows are just below shoulder height. Keep a slight bend in the elbows throughout movement.


Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat for a total of 10 to 12 repetitions. Do two to three sets of this exercise.

Things Needed

  • Two dumbbells
  • Bench


  • Begin with a weight you can comfortably lift for the prescribed repetitions and sets. Focus on developing form and technique before increasing the amount of weight used. The dumbbell rear lateral raise trains more intricate muscles and will not require a heavy weight load. Vary the order of exercises each time you complete the workout.


  • Consult your doctor before beginning any workout program.
  • Using improper form will result in injury and muscular imbalances. A certified personal trainer can provide a step-by-step demonstration for each exercise.
  • Don't start lifting a heavier amount of weight before you are ready.