How to Do Bent Over Rows

As a compound exercise, bent over ows are a classic upper back and shoulder exercise that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. By working different muscles together, you will elevate your heart rate to provide a cardio workout benefit, burn more calories, and quickly improve your strength and stamina.

Increasing the strength in these back of the body muscles can better your posture, spine stability, and will stabilize your shoulder joints. This added strength can also lower the risk for lower-back injuries. 

An aesthetically pleasing feature of the exercise is that a strong and toned upper back can make you look slimmer and taller...even if you haven't lost a single pound!!

Bent Over Rows

Exercise Instructions:

  • With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the waist and keep your back in a straight line parallel to the ground. 

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and brace yourself on a bench or chair with your left hand (as pictured below).

  • Engage your abs and bring the dumbbell up to your side, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

  • Slowly lower the dumbbell back to your starting position without rocking your body and continue your reps.

         Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with each arm.

dumbbell bent over rows step 1Kyle Demonstrating the Bent Over Row
dumbbell bent over rows step 2


  • Working each side of your back separately with dumbbells is a great way to avoid muscle imbalance. To maximize this row exercise, keep your shoulders as still as possible.

  • Use a slow and controlled tempo, make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together on every rep and don't "round" your lower back, keep your body flat and straight.

  • You want to feel the muscles in your upper back (lats) contracting by pulling your shoulder blades up at the top of the exercise. Once you understand what muscles should be doing the work, it makes it easier to focus on them.


  • Torch the Body Fat: Along with the lower body muscles, the muscles in your back are some of the largest in your body. The more muscle you add, the higher level your metabolism runs, causing your body to burn more fat and calories.
  • Upper Body & Core Strength. The added strength in your upper back and core area will work to support your shoulders and lower back. This will allow you to lift heavier weighted objects and count on a number of smaller muscle groups to  relieve the lower back from working too hard.
  • V-Effect. Adding lean muscle mass to your upper body will result in you looking slimmer. By having larger back muscles up near your shoulders, you will start having the "V" look that will make your stomach look smaller even if your waist size hasn't changed an inch.

  • Arm Strength. Back exercises like these rows effectively work your arm muscles. Any time you bend your elbow picking up a dumbbell, you are exercising your biceps.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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