- Bent-Over Rows
- Dumbbell Dead Lifts
- Lat Pull Overs
- Seated Rear Flies
- Shrugs with Shoulder Retraction
- Renegade Rows
Scroll down for video and picture instruction.
Lots of people ask me – “How can I get a sculpted back without all the equipment at the gym?”
Now granted, I’m a huge fan of all the different back machines at the gym; the rows and cables and pulldowns, etc.
However you don’t need a gym membership or a lot of fancy equipment to strengthen and tone your back.
Today I’m sharing 6 of my favorite dumbbell back exercises to shape, sculpt, Tone and Tighten.
I usually get quite a few questions about this workout. Most often people ask me…
Are free weights better than machines? My answer is usually mixed.
I like machines because they can create different lines of pull and resistance. However I like free weights because your muscles have to work a lot harder to stabilize the load while you’re working.
It’s for this reason I typically reach for the free weights; but I do like to mix things up throughout my month of workouts.
How often should I exercise my back? – Once a week for toning, slenderizing, and defining; twice a week to gain mass.
How can I tone my back muscles? – Here’s the thing – you have to incorporate some sort of resistance training into your workouts. Pulling horizontally focuses on building your rhomboids and trapezius (the muscles between your shoulder blades) while pulling vertically focuses on your lats (the muscles under your armpit).
How much weight should I use for back workouts? If you’re primary emphasis is muscle tone, you should shoot for three sets of 10 reps. If you’re looking to increase size then I recommend more sets of lower reps (5 sets of 6 reps).
Where can I get a set of dumbbells? My personal favorite dumbbells are this set that my wife gave me a couple of years ago. They’re adjustable from 5-100 pounds and extremely well-made!
They’re adjustable in 5-pound increments so you have every weight you could need!
- Focus on the muscle you’re exercising – make sure you’re feeling the pull of the resistance in the right place.
- Keep your biceps quiet – oftentimes the biceps muscle is a lot more active and can actually overpower the whole lift. Once again – your focus should be on your back not your arm.
- Horizontal pulling works muscles between your shoulder blades; vertical pulling works muscle under your armpit and down your sides.
- 3 sets of 10 reps is a good number for tone; 5-6 sets of 5-6 reps is a good number for building mass
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Alright – we’ve reached the time! Here are my 6 go-to exercises to tone and strengthen your back with just a pair of dumbbells!
- Start kneeling on a bench with one knee and bracing yourself with one hand.
- The dumbbell is in the opposite hand.
- Use your back muscles to row the dumbbell into your chest and slowly return to starting position.
- 3 sets of 10 on each arm
- Stand erect with the dumbbells gripped in your hands.
- Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and head high as you hinge at your hips and slowly lower the weights to the floor.
- Return to starting position. (Watch form on this one!)
- 3 sets of 10
- Lay down perpendicular to a bench (can also use a bed or couch) so your shoulder blades are on the bench with your hips elevated.
- Start with arms straight up towards the ceiling.
- Slowly lower the weight down behind your head
- Use your lats to pull the weights back up towards the ceiling to the starting position.
- 3 sets of 10
- Sit on the edge of a bench/chair and lean forward at your hips/lower back (chest almost rests in your lap).
- Maintain only a slight bend in your elbow as you pull the weights back behind you.
- Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together to activate the rhomboid group in this area.
- 3 sets of 10
- Stand erect with the dumbbells at your side.
- Pull your shoulders up towards your ears and then pinch your shoulder blades together.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- 3 sets of 10
- Assume the push-up position on the floor holding on to a pair of dumbbells.
- Row one weight up to your chest and then slowly lower it to the starting position.
- Repeat with the other side.
- 3 sets of 10 on each arm.
By Jared Beckstrand