How to Do Dumbbell Rows

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You have technique options when it comes to performing dumbbell rows -- standing, bending over or lying on a workout bench. This exercise primarily targets the muscles in your back while effectively working several assisting muscles in your shoulders and upper arms. Adding one or two variations of the dumbbell row to your regular workout can help you maintain and build muscular strength. Start with one set of 12 reps and work up to three sets of 12 reps.

Things You'll Need

  • Workout bench
  • Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart to perform the standing row. Relax your arms and hold the weights in front of your thighs with your palms facing your legs. This is the starting position. Bend your elbows, flare them out to the sides and pull the weights up to the front of your shoulders. At the top of the pull slightly flex your wrists. Return to the starting position and repeat.

  • Hold a weight in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to perform the two-arm, bent-over version. Start by leaning forward from your waist, almost 90 degrees, with your arms hanging straight from your shoulders, palms facing your legs, back straight and a slight bend in your knees. In this position the weights should be at mid-shin level. Slowly pull the weights up close to your stomach and at the top of the pull, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Return to the starting position and repeat.

  • Perform the single-arm, bent-over row with an elevated workout bench. While holding a dumbbell in your left hand, stand to the left of the bench, bend your right leg and put your right knee on the bench. Lean forward and put your right hand on the bench directly below your shoulder for support. Start with your left arm hanging straight from your shoulder. Keep your back straight and slowly pull the weight up to the side of your rib cage. Return to the starting position and repeat. Complete the set and repeat with your opposite arm.

  • Set up for lying rows by placing one dumbbell on the floor to the right side of a workout bench and the other to the left side. Lie face down on the bench with your hips slightly bent over the end of bench, legs extended behind you and your toes on the floor. Reach down, grab the weights with your palms facing inward and allow your arms to hang straight toward the floor slightly stretching your shoulders. If you can't do this without the weights touching the floor, raise the height of the bench. Slowly pull the weights up until your upper arms are just above horizontal, return to the starting position and repeat.

Tips & Warnings

  • The American Council on Exercise recommends you start with a weight amount that is easy to control and allows you to perform 12 reps while maintaining good form. Increase the weight slightly, 5 to 10 percent, only when performing 12 reps with good form is no longer a challenge.
  • Exhale during the pull phase and inhale as you return to the starting position.

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  • Photo Credit ruigsantos/iStock/Getty Images
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