The dumbbell row, also known as the bent-over dumbbell row, is a compound back exercise. Perform dumbbell rows by hinging your hips with your back straight and lifting a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Like other rowing exercises, the dumbbell row uses a pulling movement pattern that activates multiple muscles in your upper back, shoulders, core, and arms.\n\nConsider the benefits of regularly practicing dumbbell rows:\n\n1. __Dumbbell rows help you build a stronger back__. Dumbbell rows put special emphasis on your back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoids, teres major, trapezius, and rhomboids. \n2. __Dumbbell rows work muscle groups in your upper body__. Although the dumbbell row prioritizes your back muscles, it also provides a comprehensive upper-body workout by activating several other muscle groups, including your chest muscles, core muscles, glutes, lower back muscles, and triceps. \n3. __Dumbbell rows can improve your posture__. By building your upper-body strength, the dumbbell row is one of the best exercises for improving your posture. \n4. __Dumbbell rows involve a wide range of motion__. The dumbbell row allows for a greater range of motion than the traditional [barbell row](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/barbell-row-guide), enhancing your shoulder and elbow mobility.\n5. __Dumbbell rows can increase grip strength__. The dumbbell row is a good option for building your grip strength, especially if you’re a novice lifter. Practice dumbbell rows as a warm-up to other compound exercises that use heavier weights like [deadlifts](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/deadlift-form-guide) and [bench presses](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/close-grip-bench-press-guide).\nFor the dumbbell row, begin by performing 2–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions. Choose your sets and repetitions based on your ability to maintain good technique throughout all sets and repetitions.\n\n- Start by grabbing a pair of dumbbells, and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your posture should be tall with a slight bend in your knees. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips with a neutral head and neck position. Your chin should remain tucked throughout the movement, as if you were holding an egg under your chin.\n- Evenly distribute your weight, and grip the floor with your feet to create a stable position. Your arms should remain long by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows.\n- While maintaining a neutral spine, hinge your hips backward. Your shins should be vertical, and your upper body should be at a 30- or 45-degree angle. You should feel your legs working to support your position. Rotate your shoulders outward to engage your lats. Start all repetitions from this position.\n- Initiate the upward movement by squeezing your lats—the muscles located along the sides of your back. Use your back and arms to pull the dumbbells toward your hips, keeping your elbows 45 degrees away from your body. \n- Your shoulder blades should retract as you pull the dumbbells toward the outside of your upper leg. Your upper arms should be in line with your upper body, with your arms forming a 90-degree angle at your elbows.\n- While maintaining your rowing alignment, straighten your elbows, and allow the dumbbells to travel back to the starting position. Your shoulder blades should protract as your elbows straighten and the dumbbells move away from your body.\n\nThe dumbbell row is a versatile exercise with several variations. Consider trying one of these three variations:\n\n1. __Incline bench dumbbell row__: Perform the incline bench dumbbell row by lying flat on your stomach on an incline bench angled at 45 degrees. With a pair of dumbbells hanging in front of you, begin the rowing movement. The incline bench dumbbell row is a slightly easier variation because it doesn’t require core stability and glute activation.\n2. __One-arm dumbbell row__: To practice this unilateral variation, rest one knee and one hand on a flat bench in a lunge position while lifting a dumbbell with your other hand. By providing more support, the one-arm dumbbell row is an easier variation that can help you practice your rowing form. \n3. __Single-leg bent-over dumbbell row__: This advanced variation involves lifting one leg off the ground and hovering it behind you while you bend forward and row with a pair of dumbbells. Single-leg bent-over dumbbell rows activate extra stabilizer muscles to help you keep your balance.\nIf you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs. Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement. When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you note pain or discomfort.\n\nIn order to see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program. Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.\nThrow on some athleisure, fire up a [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com), and get ready to sweat it out with exclusive instructional videos from Nike Master Trainer and *GQ* fitness specialist Joe Holder. Want to improve your cardiovascular endurance? Give Joe’s HIIT workout a go. Trying to get a little swole? He’s got a strength training workout for that. From fitness tips to nutrition hacks, Joe will have you feeling healthier in no time.\nIf you’re looking for a new exercise to work your upper back muscles, consider trying the dumbbell row.