How To Do Dumbbell Rows

YouTube Exercise Video

How To Do Dumbbell Rows

We’ve pointed out before that the middle back can be a difficult place to target for workout routines. Not only does this area tend to only benefit as a secondary area of the body in most routines, but it also can be dangerous to attempt things that target this area, due to possible sprains or spinal strain. 

Fortunately, there do exist a number of simple exercises that safely target this area, though people with serious back problems should always consult physicians before attempting even these. One such example is the dumbbell row, which some would consider a slightly unorthodox exercise. It’s certainly not one seen often on television. 

However, it is a safe, effective routine that works these back muscles without unduly stressing them. 

What You Need 

You need a bench that you can kneel and lean one arm upon, high enough for your other leg to be mostly extended. You also need a reasonably weighted dumbbell. It’s a good idea to use gloves for a safe grip, and if you have mild back pain, to wear a brace. If you have knee problems, a knee brace/pad would also be a good idea. 

Dumbbell Row Muscles Worked

Latissimus dorsi muscle animation


  • Kneel on the bench with one leg, your other leg extended, foot planted firmly on the ground. Bend at the waist as though you plan to crawl. Support your remaining weight with your other arm, elbow locked, reaching slightly ahead of you. 
  • With your free arm, grip the dumbbell, arm hanging completely down, but not letting the dumbbell touch the ground. Face your palm inward. 
  • Bending at the elbow and shoulder, bring the dumbbell up, near your ribs. Your elbow will flare outward in this action, like when performing other rowing exercises. 
  • Lower it back to start position (under muscle power, not gravity) and repeat. 


Consult your doctor if you have shoulder, arm or back problems. Wear a brace if you have mild back irritation, and a knee brace and pad if your knees are problematic. 

Do not thrust the dumbbell, and do not let gravity lower it. Don’t overdo it with the weight, and be sure to switch sides and work the other arm as well. Be sure not to exhaust your current arm, so it can support you when you work the other. 

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