11 BEST Exercises for a Bigger Back (Dumbbells Only!)

The back is one of the largest parts of our body, which comprises five muscle groups.

So, we have to train all the muscle groups to get a strong and bigger back. And the good news is we can train all the muscles very effectively by using only dumbbells.

In this article, I will show you the eleven best and unique back exercises with dumbbells that you can do anywhere, even if you don’t have access to a gym.

Benefits of Back Exercises

Having a strong and thicker back isn’t only looks attractive, but also there’re several amazing benefits of training back muscle, such as:

1. The muscles from the skull down the back to the lower leg contribute to “good” posture. So, training back muscles is crucial to improve and maintain a good posture in the long term.

2. When our back muscles are weak, the ribs become compressed, limiting the lungs’ capacity to increase oxygen intake. So, a stronger back will help us breathe more comfortably by allowing the lungs to contract and expand.

3. Having a healthy amount of muscle behind the scene will promote other heavy exercises, like bench press, deadlifts, biceps curl, etc.

4. Training back also helps you get an overall bigger, stronger, and attractive body frame. And it also promotes us to do regular activities more efficiently.

5. According to a 2016 study, regular back exercising is a great way to reduce and eliminate lower back pain. Also, exercising helps increase muscular strength and flexibility of the back muscles.

Okay, I think we’ve got enough impressive and critical reasons to train our back muscles more consistently without making any excuses.

Back Muscles Anatomy

Check out the below picture to familiarize yourself with the back muscles.

So that when you exercise for any particular muscle group, you can build a solid neuromuscular (muscle-mind) connection with the working muscle, which is critical to break down and build new muscle tissues.

Image: Thehealthsite.com

We already know that the back muscles are primarily made of five different muscle groups.

One of the largest muscle groups of our back is the trapezius (upper back) which includes an upper, middle, and lower portion.

Then along with the upper back in between the shoulder blades, we have our rhomboids which are responsible for bringing our shoulders back, and they contribute quite a bit to the shape and thickness of our upper back.

At the sides of our upper back, we have our posterior deltoids, the back portion of our shoulders.

As we move down to our middle back, we have the latissimus dorsi (lats), which is also a large and very powerful back muscle, crucial for adducting the shoulders or pulling the arms behind.

And after the middle back, we have the erector spine, which is also called the lower back.

The 11 Best Back Exercises with Dumbbells

11 BEST Back Exercises with Dumbbells Only!
Image: Canva.com

Lower Back Exercises with Dumbbells

Here’re the four best lower back exercises which you can perform with only dumbbells.

1. Dumbbell Good Morning

The first back exercise on our list is dumbbell good-morning, which will majorly activate our lower back and hamstring muscles.

How to:

  1. First, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell with your hands on the trapezius muscle. Make sure it shouldn’t be rested on your neck.
  2. Keep your chest up, back straight, and hips tight.
  3. Keeping your back completely straight, lower forward your upper body until it gets parallel to the ground or as much as you can.
  4. Concentrate on getting a nice stretch on your hamstring and squeeze your lower back throughout this movement.
  5. Then come back up to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Equipment needed: A dumbbell

Muscles worked: Lower back, hamstrings, and abs.

2. Dumbbell Deadlift

The next exercise we have is dumbbell deadlifts. It’s one of the best exercises to develop back muscles, especially if you have heavy dumbbells.

But if you don’t have heavy dumbbells, you can go for higher rep ranges to provide some quality stress to the working muscles.

How to:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells with your hands, a little bit of side of your thighs.
  2. Keep your shoulder blades pinched together, chest up, and hip squeezed.
  3. Slightly bend your knees and hips back, slowly lower down the dumbbells at about your shinbone or as much as you can while engaging your lower back and hamstring muscles.
  4. Then explode all the way up to the starting position and squeeze your hips. Repeat.

Equipment needed: A pair of heavy dumbbells

Muscles worked: Lower and upper back, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

3. Dumbbell Bird Dog

The next lower back exercise we have is the weighted bird dog, which will also engage your glutes and hamstrings.

This exercise will help you correct the movements, control, and stability of your whole body, and it’s also very effective for reducing lower back pain.

How to:

  1. Grab a dumbbell with one hand and place both your hands and knees on the floor aligned with the shoulder and hip.
  2. Keeping your back straight, push your left leg backward simultaneously up your right hand forward, which holds the dumbbell.
  3. Take a little pause at the top and squeeze your lower back and hips.
  4. Then, slowly lower your hand and leg down to the starting position and repeat for reps.
  5. Once you’ve done your desired reps with one side, then switch to another side.

Equipment needed: Light dumbbell

Muscles worked: Lower back, abdominal muscle, and glutes.

4. Dumbbell Reverse Hyper

The last lower back dumbbell exercise we have is reverse hyper, which is one of the very effective exercises that brutally targets your lower back.

How to:

  1. Set up a flat bench. Lie face down on the bench on your upper body while your lower body is hanging at the end of the bench.
  2. Hold a light dumbbell with your feet and lift them towards the ceiling.
  3. Make sure you get a quality contraction to your lower back rather than your glutes.
  4. Then slowly lower your legs to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Equipment needed: A bench and a dumbbell

Muscles worked: Lower back, hips, and hamstrings.

Download the free copy of How to Build 12-15 Pounds of Muscle Mass in Just 3 Months on a Budget

Upper Back Exercises with Dumbbells

Let’s try the following seven best and effective dumbbell exercises to smash your upper back.

5. Chest Supported Row

GIF: Ncoga.org

Straggling with lower back pain? Try this one!

The chest-supported row is a great back exercise you can do to train your back without getting any pain or injuries.

How to:

  1. To begin, set up an incline bench and lie down on your chest by grabbing a pair of dumbbells in your hands in a neutral grip position.
  2. Place your chest firmly on the bench and legs on the ground while stretching your arms straight towards the ground.
  3. Pull your elbow towards the ceiling and contract your back muscles at the top.
  4. Then, lower your arms and fully stretch your back at the bottom. Repeat.

Equipment needed: An incline bench and a pair of dumbbells.

Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, rhomboids, and biceps.

6. Dumbbell “W” Raise

The “W” raise is one of the unique exercises that simultaneously target lots of back muscles, but most importantly, it hits the muscle group that was most of the time ignored — namely the rotator cuff.

It’s a very important muscle group that supports our shoulder blades to rotate. Let’s learn how to perform this exercise correctly.

How to:

  1. Grab a pair of light dumbbells in your hands, stand in a bending position, and your hands stretch straight towards the ground.
  2. Keep your chest up, back straight, tight core, and hips out.
  3. From there, pull your elbows and rotate your shoulders to make your hands back behind your elbows to create a “W” and contract your rotator cuff at the top.
  4. Then, lower your hands back to the starting position and repeat for reps.
  5. You can use an incline bench to support your lower back.

Equipment needed: A pair of dumbbells

Muscles worked: Rotator cuffs, upper and middle trapezius, and posterior deltoids.

7. Dumbbell Pullover

The next back exercise we have is one of the best lats movements with the dumbbell — the pullover.

The pullover is also used to train the chest, but here we’ll focus more on lats rather than the chest with a little bit of modification.

How to:

  1. To begin, place a dumbbell on the side of the bench.
  2. Slide down until your upper back is on the bench, and grab the plated at one end of the dumbbell. And the middle of the dumbbell will be sitting in between the webbing of your fingers.
  3. From there, bring the dumbbell over your chest with your arms extended and slightly bent in your elbows.
  4. Drop your hips to counter-balance the weight.
  5. Take a deep breath, lower the weight above and behind your head towards the ground in an arch-like motion until you feel a nice stretch in your lats.
  6. Then return the weights towards starting position by concentrating on lats and stop when it is above your face, rather than moving it above your chest to create all the tension on your lats.

Equipment needed: A bench and a dumbbell

Muscles worked: Lats, chest, and triceps.

8. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Another great exercise for lats is dumbbell row, which is a very effective exercise in terms of getting a wider V-taper back.

How to:

  1. First, set up a flat bench and grab a dumbbell.
  2. Place one knee and one hand that’s the same side onto the bench while keeping your other foot on the floor and your other arm hanging straight with the dumbbell.
  3. Keep your chest out, maintain a neutral arc in your back, and then pull your elbow up towards the ceiling and contract your lats at the top.
  4. Then, slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position until you feel a nice stretch on your lats and repeat for reps.
  5. Then switch to the other side.

Equipment needed: A bench or knee height platform and a dumbbell.

Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, spinal erectorsrs, and biceps.

9. Reverse Dumbbell Fly

The next exercise we have is a fly movement, and it’s reverse dumbbell fly which is a great exercise to train multiple muscle groups at a time.

How to:

  1. Set up a bench on an incline position, grab a pair of dumbbells, and lay on a prone position flat down on the bench.
  2. Hold both dumbbells in a pronated position with your arms hanging straight down towards the ground.
  3. Then, leading with your elbows, perform a reverse fly by raising the dumbbells out to your sides in an arch-like motion and squeeze your back muscle at the top.
  4. Once your dumbbells are raised at your sides, slowly lower them back down to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Equipment needed: An incline bench and a pair of dumbbells

Muscles worked: Rhomboids, trapezius, and posterior deltoids.

10. Renegade Row

The next exercise we have is renegade row which is a great exercise not only for your back but also for your core and for developing better balance and stability.

How to:

  1. Start by getting down on the ground into a push-up position with both hands elevated on a pair of dumbbells, holding them on neutral grips.
  2. Keep your body in a straight line from the back of your head to heels with your chest out and shoulder blades back.
  3. Before beginning, you’ll shift your bodyweight very slightly towards the opposite side that you’ll be rolling on by rotating your torso away from that side to prevent yourself from falling over once the weight is off the ground and pulling you back down.
  4. Lift the dumbbell off the ground while still allowing your arm to hang straight down.
  5. Then squeeze your core and row back by pulling your elbow up towards the ceiling and contract your back at the top.
  6. Once the dumbbell comes up to your chest, lower it down slowly and take a little pause at the bottom before you lift it again.
  7. Remember to do your desired reps on each side, one side at a time.

Equipment needed: A pair of dumbbells

Muscles worked: Trapezius, lats, obliques, abs, and biceps muscles.

11. Dumbbell Gorilla Row

The last and one of my favorite lats movements is the single-arm dumbbell gorilla row which is one of the most effective exercises for getting quality contraction to your lats.

How to:

  1. Place a slightly heavy dumbbell in front of you, or if you have light dumbbells, you can increase the reps count to provide maximum tension to the working muscles.
  2. Bend your knees and lower your hips back down while keeping your back flat and chest out.
  3. Place one elbow on your thigh for support, and with the other hand, grab the dumbbell, which stretches straight towards the ground.
  4. From there, leading by your elbow, pull the dumbbell up, take a little pause and squeeze your lats at the top.
  5. Then lower the dumbbell back down until you get a nice stretch at the bottom. Repeat.
  6. Once you’ve completed with one side, switch to another side and perform your desired reps.

Equipment needed: A slight heavy dumbbell

Muscles worked: Latissiumus dorsi, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids.

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Okay, now you’ve got some of the best and most effective back exercises with dumbbells to get a bigger and more attractive looking back from anywhere.

To get a great workout session, you can take four to five of those exercises with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps of each with a heavy enough weight.

However, if you don’t feel the weight much challenging, you can go higher rep count at about 15-20 on the heavy exercises like deadlift.

If you have any questions regarding workouts, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I will be glad to help you!

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