Incline Bench Dumbbell Rows – Back Exercise Guide with Photos


Muscles Targeted: Incline bench dumbbell rows target two of the most noticeable muscles in your back, your trapezius and latissimus dorsi. They also target a third very important area though, and those are your deep posterior and anterior spinal muscles. The secondary muscle groups targeted with this exercise include the rear deltoids (shoulders) along with the biceps and forearms.


Exercise Instructions: Place two dumbbells next to an incline bench and position yourself securely on the bench with your chest lying on the pad and your feet touching the ground for support. Reach down and grab a dumbbell with each hand with your palms facing in letting the dumbbells hang straight down so that your arms are fully extended. Slowly lift the dumbbells straight upward and flex your upper back muscles at the top of the exercise. Return the dumbbells back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired amount of reps. Be sure to keep your head up and shoulders back throughout this exercise in order to keep your back in a firm and stable position at all times.

Why This Exercise is Important: This exercise is important because your back muscles support your body, it is part of your core, and you have to keep your core strong if you want to maintain a powerful physique. The human back contains a diverse set of muscles in three separate layers. The deep layer muscles control your trunk and back, the intermediate layer controls your respiratory muscles, and the superficial layer controls your upper extremities. The incline bench dumbbell rows are important because they not only target your traps and lats, but also your spinal muscles which are extremely important.

Things To Avoid: One thing to avoid with this exercise is lifting your chest off of the bench to help jerk the dumbbells up. That’s called cheating and it does you no good. Cheating during any exercise not only deprives you of the gains you can achieve, but it can also lead to injury. Also, at the top of your movement when you pull the weights up, if you can’t squeeze your shoulder blades together, then you are using too much weight and need to drop down to a lighter dumbbell. Ten reps with 15 pound dumbbells done with proper form is ALWAYS better than cheating ten reps with 25 pound dumbbells.

Reps and Sets: The amount of sets and reps you should be doing all depends on your current strength level as well as maintaining proper form during the exercise. As a weight lifter, you should know where your strength level is at for each muscle group. Using 20 pound dumbbells is a good common starting point to determine which weight you should start out with. If you can perform ten clean reps without cheating or mistakes, you may wish to move up a bit in weight. If you find you’re cheating yourself out of reps, there’s no shame in dropping down to 10 or 15 pound dumbbells. The most important thing not only for this exercise, but any exercise, is proper form and adhering to strict technique at all times. Once you find a good weight that you can complete for 10 clean reps, try doing 3-4 sets of 10 reps. This will give you a good idea of how strong you are initially at this exercise, and you can adjust accordingly.

Other Exercises To Use: When done correctly, incline bench dumbbell rows are not only great for building up your lats and traps, but also your spinal muscles as well. Switching up your grip between pronated, supinated or neutral (like you should do with any rowing movement exercise) is a good way to add variety to this exercise. Other exercises to use to hit the different back muscles include T-bar rows, seated cable rows, Smith machine rows, wide grip pulldowns and hyperextensions, which is best done on a Roman chair facing forward. When it comes to your back, there are many different muscles you have to train to achieve the look you desire, so it’s best to not only have a wide variety of exercises, but different grip variations as well to keep your back growing. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the back.

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