Best Back Exercises with Dumbbells

Dumbbells can help exercise many muscles in the body. In addition to strengthening them, they slow down the rate of muscle loss. In this article, discover the best back exercises with dumbbells.
Best Back Exercises with Dumbbells

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Strengthening your back muscles has many benefits beyond simply making you look better. Incorporating back exercises with dumbbells improves your posture and can prevent injuries due to muscle weakness or atrophy.

According to research published in the Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, strength training positively affects the body in multiple ways, as it:

  • Improves motor coordination, which is necessary to add speed, strength, and resistance to movements and displacements.
  • Strengthens muscles, which leads to reduced spinal pain.
  • Promotes the functioning of internal organs.
  • Favors the recovery of spinal injuries.

How can weight training help your back?

Exercises with dumbbells for the back and other muscle groups help stimulate contraction, as the tissues try to counteract the resistance the extra weight produces. This contributes to muscle strengthening. A strong back isn’t easily injured!

Exercising with these instruments can reduce the risk of muscle atrophy. When the muscles around the spine and torso are weak due to a lack of physical activity or illness, low back pain appears, which can reduce mobility in some cases.

In addition, back exercises with dumbbells promote muscle hypertrophy. In other words, an increase and growth of muscle cells. Also, they delay the loss of muscle mass associated with aging, inactivity, or trauma, as shown by an article published by the Journal of the Clinical Hospital of the University of Chile.

A person with low back pain.
You can avoid low back pain by strengthening your lower back.

What you should do before starting back exercises with dumbbells

Before doing the exercises that we’ll share with you below, keep these recommendations in mind:

  • If you have a back injury or disease of the back or spine, consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting.
  • Do 10 minutes of cardio to warm up your muscles and prepare them for the routine.
  • Start with medium dumbbells (six to 10 pounds). You should first work on conditioning your body with light weights. Once your endurance and strength increase, you can lift more weight.
  • Remember that if your body isn’t prepared and you try to lift a lot of weight, you can injure yourself.
  • Activate your abdominal muscles in each exercise to keep your spine strong and healthy.
  • Concentrate on doing the exercises consciously and slowly to ensure correct technique.

The best back exercises with dumbbells

A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences suggests that the effectiveness of endurance training depends on the exercises you choose and the order in which they’re performed, their frequency, and rest periods. All these factors have an effect on building muscle mass.

Another study published by the journal Frontiers in Physiology affirms that, in order to become stronger and gain muscle, it’s a good idea to adapt the routine to your physical condition. In addition, it states that working with dumbbells and light weights also increases muscle volume.

Below, discover the back exercises with dumbbells or weights that will help strengthen your muscles.

1. The good-morning

This exercise is named good morning because of the movement in the erector spinae, which resembles the rise out of bed to stretch. Practicing it boosts the strength of the erector spinae, a set of muscles and tendons that cover almost all of the lumbar, cervical, and thoracic regions.
According to a PeerJ article, adding weight to this exercise tends to make these muscles work harder. However, the researchers indicated that more research is needed. To do this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Begin by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your arms so that the dumbbells are beside and above your shoulders.
  • Bend your knees a little and bring your hips back, past your heels.
  • Lower your torso so that it’s parallel to the ground.
  • Straighten your knees and lift your torso to return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 30 seconds, take a break, and do two more sets.

2. Dumbbell deadlift

Like the previous exercise, the dumbbell deadlift works the erector spinae muscles and lower back. Here are the steps you need to follow to do it:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your legs extended. The dumbbell, bar, or weight should be on the floor in front of you.
  • Squat and grab the dumbbell with one or both hands.
  • Stand up while keeping your arms extended and parallel to your body. Contract your glutes and bring your hips forward a little.
  • Do the squat again by bringing the dumbbell to the ground and repeat the exercise. Do three 10-rep sets.

3. Bent-over row

This back exercise with dumbbells strengthens different muscles, including the traps, dorsals, and rhomboids. Thus, it’s one of the most complete back exercises. To do it, follow these steps:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Standing with your knees and hips slightly bent, lean your torso forward.
  • Bend your arms, bringing your elbows back and over your back.
  • This movement brings the scapulae together, which are two bones that are also known as the shoulder blades.
  • Hold this position for a minute and extend your arms in front of you to repeat the exercise. Do three 10-rep sets.

4. The dumbbell superman

An article published in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, in which the researchers studied three groups while they did exercises to treat lower back pain, states that the dumbbell superman activates the lower back muscles, strengthening them. Do you want to know how to do it?

  • Simply lie on your stomach with your legs hip-width apart and your arms extended in front of you.
  • Hold a small dumbbell in each hand.
  • Contract your glutes and abs. Keeping your torso and pelvis on the floor, lift your arms and legs at the same time.
  • Once you lift them as high as you can, hold the position for a second.
  • Lower your limbs and repeat the exercise. Do three 10-rep sets.
A woman doing the superman exercise.
The dumbbell superman exercise has proven effective for the lower back.

5. Lateral arm raise

In addition to working the trapezius, this exercise also works the shoulder and neck muscles. Follow these steps to do the exercise correctly:

  • Lie face down on an exercise mat. Your forehead should be on the mat and you always look down to relieve neck tension.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Keep your legs hip-width apart and your arms straight on each side. To achieve this position, simply try to make your body look like a cross.
  • Without lifting your chest, pelvis, or legs off the exercise mat, lift your arms to the sides until your elbows are at shoulder height.
  • Remember that you shouldn’t bend your arms while you’re doing the exercise.
  • Lower your arms and dumbbells to the floor and repeat. Do two 10-rep sets.

Take care of the health of your back and tone it

Encourage yourself to do these back exercises with dumbbells at least three times a week, alternately. This way, you’ll strengthen your muscles and see results in the medium and long term.

Remember that, if you don’t know what’s the best routine for you, you should consult a personal trainer. They can help you do the exercises correctly and tell you how much weight you should lift.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Suchomel TJ, Nimphius S, Bellon CR, Stone MH. The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations. Sports Med. 2018 Apr;48(4):765-785. doi: 10.1007/s40279-018-0862-z. PMID: 29372481.
  • Gąsiorowski A. The role of weight training in treating farmers with lumbar discopathy. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2012;19(4):817-820.
  • Molina, Y., and Juan Carlos. “Sarcopenia en la pérdida funcional: rol del ejercicio.” Rev. Hosp. Clín. Univ. Chile (2008): 302-308.
  • Kneffel Z, Murlasits Z, Reed J, Krieger J. A meta-regression of the effects of resistance training frequency on muscular strength and hypertrophy in adults over 60 years of age. J Sports Sci. 2020 Sep 18:1-8. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1822595. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32948100.
  • Gentil P, Ramirez-Campillo R, Souza D. Resistance Training in Face of the Coronavirus Outbreak: Time to Think Outside the Box. Front Physiol. 2020;11:859. Published 2020 Jul 7. doi:10.3389/fphys.2020.00859.
  • Vigotsky AD, Harper EN, Ryan DR, Contreras B. 2015Effects of load on good morning kinematics and EMG activityPeerJ 3:e708
  • Ekstrom RA, Osborn RW, Hauer PL. Surface electromyographic analysis of the low back muscles during rehabilitation exercises. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008 Dec;38(12):736-45. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2008.2865. PMID: 19195137.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.