If you’re looking for a dumbbell Back workout big enough to give you that Ninja Turtle Back Armor thickness from the rear-view, you’ve most defiantly clicked on the right article.
While many say it’s impossible to grow a decent Back without a variety of fancy machines on hand, In my 40+ years of smashing iron and molding my best physique, I’ve learned that you don’t need expensive equipment to transform any muscle group.
While barbells and fancy machines will add good meat to the Back and make the job somewhat easier, you can get the job done with dumbbells if you're prepared to think a little outside the box.
Dumbbells can be more joint-friendly than their barbell equivalent. And while they are excellent for home-trainees with limited space and equipment, they can also minimize any strength imbalances using unilateral training, thus ensuring both limbs do the same amount of work.
In this exposé, I’m going to share 2 great exercise movements you can add to your next dumbbell Back Workout. I will save the regular dumbbell bent over row and dumbbell pullover movement for another Dumbbell Back article; but today we’re going underground and off the beaten track, where some uncommon but extraordinary dumbbell exercises lay.
You may never have tried these two movements before, but don’t let that stop you from adding them to your next dumbbell Back workout. This will put you in a great position to grow impressive ‘X’ Shape thickness. With each movement, I'll also give you the relevant cues and at the end of this read, I'll share an advanced intensity technique you can add to these two great dumbbell Back exercises at home.
If you've grown stale of the traditional Dumbbell Bent-over Row, or the one arm dumbbell row isn’t giving you the Back you’ve craved, why not try the Twisted One Arm Dumbbell Row on your next dumbbell back workout?
While similar in many ways to the Single-Arm Dumbbell Row, the twisted version of this Back movement targets the lowest parts of the Lats to the point it almost cramps the muscle if done correctly.
Target Muscle Group: The lower Lats
Equipment Needed: Flat bench and one dumbbell.
Set-Up: The set-up is the most important aspect of the movement. Get it wrong or get too sloppy when performing the movement and you’ll end up with a half-decent exercise that does more for the Biceps than it does for the Lats. Get this dumbbell Back workout exercise right, and it game on for the pump of your life.
1: Start by kneeling on the edge of a flat bench and placing your hand as support, similar to a Single-arm dumbbell row. The goal here is to place the leg that is on the ground as far back as possible without losing your balance and falling over.
2: The next part of this setup is responsible for the lower Lat being maximally involved. Pick up a dumbbell and twist your upper torso so that you're looking over the hip of the leg resting on the ground.
Cue 1: Unlike the traditional Single Arm Row, where you lower the dumbbell to the floor for a fuller stretch before rowing it, here you only row until your arm is straight. With your torso twist in place, retract your shoulder and row the dumbbell as if you're about to place it in your back pocket. In some respects, it’s almost as if you are wrapping the dumbbell around the Lats muscle.
Cue 2: At this point, you should feel your lower Lat forcefully contract. While maintaining the twist, bring the dumbbell back to the straight arm position, making sure not to lose your balance. Remember that you are not rowing the dumbbell to the ground but until your arm is straight.
Cue 3: Make sure that before each repetition, you twist your upper torso and look over your hip before retracting your shoulder.
Of the entire dumbbell back exercises you can do at home, this is the one that quickly empties the gas tank and drains the workout battery. When implementing the Seated Dumbbell Deadlift, make sure to do them near the beginning of the session if possible.
Take the lower body out of the equation, and you still have a mighty meatpacker of a movement for the entire Back region. Excluding the legs from this deadlift will most defiantly help you concentrate on every aspect of the movement.
Target Muscle Group: The Entire Back Area
Items Needed: Two dumbbells, a flat bench, and a block or platform. If you are going heavy, wrist straps are advised.
Setup: If you have long arms or simply want to extend the range of motion, place a block or platform under the seated end of the bench.
Cue 1: Sit at the edge of a flat bench with your knees at a right angle to your ankles. Place a dumbbell on the outer side of each foot.
Cue 2: With palms facing each other, lean forward so your chest is almost touching your thighs, and grip the dumbbells making sure that your back remains flat. As you lift them a few inches off the ground, compress your shoulder blades as hard as you can, which will activate your Lats.
Cue 3: As you slowly pull yourself up, you should feel the stress in your Lats from retracting your shoulders. Pull until you are in the fully upright position and hold for a second or two before lowering the dumbbells down to touch the floor. By placing the dumbbells on the outer side of each foot, you involve a lot of upper Back action as you pull up.
Repeat all of the cues for the desired amount of repetitions.
Good question; a lot will depend on your training split. If you do full-body workouts, you could choose to do these exercises on two different workout sessions. In the case that you do an upper/lower body split, you could implement these movements over one or two upper body workouts. The same will apply if you do a Push/Pull/Legs split.
For reps and reps in reserve (RIR), a rep range from 5 – 20 repetitions per set, leaving 2 repetitions in reserve on all working sets would be a great start.. This will ensure you are achieving maximum motor unit recruitment or very close to it on your dumbbell Back workout. Sets will depend on your training structure, recovery, and fatigue levels, but 3 – 4 sets per exercise should be a good start for these dumbbell Back exercises.
If you’re doing full-body workouts and want to shake things up over the space of a four week training cycle so your body doesn’t get used to the same rep range, you could perform workout one in the 5-7 rep range, workout two in the 8-10 rep range, workout three in the 11-12 rep range and workout four in the 15-20 rep range.
More Dumbbell Lat Exercises To Build A Monster Back At Home!
Of course, there are a few good intensity Techniques you could employ during your dumbbell workout, such as supersets, forced sets, and drop sets to allow you to go beyond the common failure point in a workout to push the muscle harder. Here’s one intensity technique you could perform on your next dumbbell Back Workout.
This intensity technique should not be attempted by the novice lifter with only a few months training under their belt, but should only be performed by intermediate and advanced lifters with three or more training years’ experience.
For this muscle-building technique, you simply choose one of the above movements, set a rep target and obtain that repetition goal no matter how many sets it takes to achieve. Remember that on the Twisted One Arm Dumbbell Row, you will need to repeat the movement on both sides.
Rep Targeting Example:
• Our target is 50 repetitions with a weight that may allow you 15 reps to failure. Onset one, you achieved 15 reps.
• Rest up to 30 seconds
• You perform 10 more reps to failure
• Rest up to 30 sections
• Achieve 8 reps to failure
• Rest up to 30 seconds
• Complete 7 reps to failure
• Rest up 30 seconds
• Perform 5 repetitions to failure
• Rest 30 seconds
• Perform 5 reps to failure
Now you’ve read this article, don’t just sit on the information…Go out and give each movement a good going over in the gym. Remember for best results, give everything and leave nothing.
More Dumbbell Back exercises to thicken out your rearview!
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