Gym Shorts: The Dumbbell Row

New to the dumbbell row or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

The Dumbbell Row

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises. Here we discuss the dumbbell row!

Follow these steps

  • Arms hang straight down
  • Same-side leg on ground
  • Other side leg on bench
  • Neutral grip: pull dumbbell up to upper abs
  • Steady controlled movement
  • Pull up and back (like starting a lawn mower)
  • Don’t forget to squeeze your shoulder blades together with the pull
  • Pull as high as you can, completing the full range of motion
  • Change hands: same set-up, but reversed
  • Same side foot flat on the ground
  • Maintain flat back
  • Gaze ahead

What Is It?

The dumbbell row is an accessory exercise that stresses the muscles of the upper back and arm to pull the dumbbell up in the transverse plane.

The dumbbell row is an upper body pulling exercise and—if you think about pulling and pressing vertically or horizontally—an upper body horizontal pulling exercise.

It trains many muscles, including the rhomboids, trapezius, biceps brachii, latissimus dorsi, and other muscles (including the muscles in the forearm that grip the dumbbell).


Dumbbell rows tend to be used for hypertrophy, so higher rep sets of 5-15 tend to be used for 2-5 sets. Within a workout, these tend to be executed after the pressing workouts but before or as part of a circuit of exercises that target a single muscle (e.g. triceps or biceps).

These are a great variant for those who have access to dumbbells. Many who train at home do not have access to dumbbells, but kettlebells, adjustable dumbbells, and purchasing fewer dumbbells with MicroGainz fractional plates make performing these in a home gym easier.

We tend to program these for advanced lifters. They generally require more stress outside of the primary barbell lifts. Dumbbell rows are a great option if those lifters are looking to add muscle, change body composition, or lose the least amount of muscle during weight loss.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter looking to revise your upper back exercises or build muscle, then consider adding dumbbell row into your programming.

Click HERE to watch an in-depth video on the barbell row and HERE to read about how to add muscle, get ripped, and become a beefcake.




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