Chest-supported dumbbell rows

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Chest-supported dumbbell rows

The row emphasizes different regions of your back than the lat pulldown does—specifically the middle trapezius and rhomboids (muscles that help pull your shoulders back), which makes it good for postural enhancement and developing the thickness of the back. There are multiple variations, but for simplicity we categorize rowing exercises into machine rows and free weights rows. In this article, we outline the benefits of chest-supported dumbbell rows. Also, we bring step-by-step instructions on how to perform this exercise with perfect form for best results.

Exercise instructions for chest-supported dumbbell rows

Follow these steps to perform this middle back exercise safely and effectively.

STARTING POSITION (SETUP):

  • Set an adjustable bench o a 30 to 45-degree angle.
  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie prone across an incline bench with the feet planted firmly on the floor. Position the chin just on top of the bench.
  • Allow the dumbbells to hang straight down from your shoulders. This is your starting position for the chest-supported dumbbell rows.

MOVEMENT (ACTION):

  • Pull the dumbbells in toward the torso, keeping the elbows tucked and the forearms roughly vertical relative to the ground (this is the key point here).
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together at the top of the movement and then return the dumbbells to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Additional tips & tricks

  • Don’t let the shoulders roll forward during the rowing portion of the movement. Keep the chest up and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
  • Don’t rely on momentum to row the dumbbells. Use strict form and control the weights at every portion of the movement.
  • Keep your arms close to your sides as you row the dumbbells up as high as possible by driving your elbows behind you.
  • Your palms are always facing each other during the entire range of motion.

Video demonstration

This video will show you exactly how to perform this exercise safely and effectively.

Variations

  • Bench supported barbell row. Lie face down on a bench set at a slight incline with your arms by your sides. This reduces the range of motion possible but removes the potentially hazardous strain on the vertebrae.

Muscles engaged

  • MAIN MUSCLES: latissimus dorsi, teres major and minor, deltoid (rear)
  • SECONDARY MUSCLES: rhomboids, biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis, trapezius, infraspinatus, (lower back muscles)
  • ANTAGONISTS: pectoralis major, triceps, deltoid (front)

Replacement exercises for the chest-supported dumbbell rows

There is a variety of rowing exercises for upper back development.

All the exercises listed below are great replacement for the chest-supported dumbbell rows.

As you can see there are so many options. You can use dumbbells, cables, barbell, a gym machine or even your own body weight to perform the rowing motion.

Closing thoughts

With chest-supported dumbbell rows, your lower body is completely taken out of the movement and your upper back is forced to do all the work. Because your upper body is supported by the bench during this type of rowing motion, this exercise is very suitable for those with posture issues, lower back problems, or inflexible hamstrings. These are the main benefits of chest-supported dumbbell rows.

The row mostly works the muscles at the interior of the beck, particularly the lower trapezius. Rowing exercises will not increase the size (width) of your back as pull-ups will. This is why people say rowing works the thickness of the back. So rowing and pull-ups are complementary exercises for the latissimus dorsi muscles.

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