Dumbbell row is an exercise for strengthening the muscles in the upper-middle back and the back of shoulders. When performed correctly this is an ideal back strength exercise for women with many potential benefits. Dumbbell row is also a pelvic floor safe strength exercise when performed correctly.
If performed incorrectly dumbbell row can aggravate neck or back problems so attention to correct position and technique is vital to avoid injury.
This expert physiotherapist video teaches you how to strengthen your upper and mid back, step by step with simple guidelines for safe and effective back exercises.
Video duration: 6 minutes
Read on below video for complete written guidelines for safe low dumbbell row technique.
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Benefits of Dumbbell Row Exercises for Women
Some of the many benefits of low dumbbell row for women include:
- Improved mid back strength and tone;
- Improved posture;
- Improved bone health of the mid and upper spine; and
- Pelvic floor safe strength exercise.
Body Position for Dumbbell Row
- Lean forwards and support your upper body through one arm on a bench, exercise ball or low chair. If your low back is inclined to be sore, then choose a higher level support to lean on.
- If using a low bench, raise one knee onto the bench to improve support and protect your low back.
- Ensure that you maintain the normal inward curve in your low back.
- Keep your chin down and your gaze directed in front of your supporting hand throughout your dumbbell row exercises.
Technique for Safe Low Dumbbell Row
- Grasp your dumbbell in your free hand commencing with a light to moderate weight only. If you are prone to neck pain ensure that your weight is light to avoid straining your neck muscles.
- In the starting position described above, completely extend the arm grasping your dumbbell. Your arm will be almost straight in its starting position.
- Engage your shoulder blade prior to lifting your weight to stabilise your shoulder; this involves drawing your shoulder blade inwards towards your spine or lifting your bust.
- Breathe out as you raise your elbow and the dumbbell along the line of your outer thigh in a backwards arc towards your hip. This helps to activate the correct muscles in your back and avoids overusing your upper shoulder/neck muscles. If the weight is raised straight up and not in a backward arc, neck pain can result.
- Try to keep your elbow close to the side of your body as you raise your weight.
- Slowly lower your weight back down the outside of your thigh to your original starting position.
How Many Dumbell Exercises and How Often?
- Repeat the action of lifting and lowering your dumbbell for up to 8-12 times in a row for one set of exercise.
- Repeat up to 3 sets of dumbbell row exercises on the day you perform your dumbbell exercise.
- Aim to perform these exercises 2-3 alternate days per week.
Tips for Avoiding Injury with Low Dumbbell Row
- Keep the size of your weight manageable. If the weight is too heavy, you will be more likely to strain.
- Raising your elbow backwards to a comfortable height and no further. Women are sometimes taught to lift the elbow as high as possible which can result in tension developing in the neck and upper shoulder area.
- Keep your chin down and look forward at your supporting hand your chest throughout your exercises.
- Maintain the inward curve in your low back
- Avoid hunching your upper back as you raise your weight, keep your upper back quite flat.
- Rest your back and neck between sets by standing upright for a short break.
Common Problems to Avoid
- Lifting a weight that is too heavy;
- Hunching the back;
- Looking up during the exercise;
- Using the neck and upper shoulder muscles to lift rather than the back; and
- Raising the weight straight up towards your hip rather than in a backward arc.
Dumbell row is an excellent back strengthening and toning exercise for women. These techniques will help you to perform low dumbbell row most effectively and minimise the risk of injury during exercise.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.