12 Best Dumbbell Exercises to Build Back Muscles
Prior to getting into your working sets for the day, it is vital to get the blood flowing around the body in order to prevent injury. Spend five to ten minutes doing some kind of cardiovascular work to get the heart rate elevated, and then it is time for some back muscle-specific warm up exercises. Grab a long resistance band or tube, and you will be ready to complete the following moves for thirty seconds to a minute for two to three rounds:
On all fours, place your hands directly below the shoulders and the knees below the hips. Press the palms and fingertips into the floor beneath you and fill out the shoulders. On an inhale, arch the back and lift the chin to the sky. Create a dip in your back while the hips lift up. Exhale and bring the belly button in to meet the spine, whilst tucking the tailbone under. Create a mountain with your spine, while pressing the floor away, and repeat.
With that long resistance band underneath the feet, and the handles in your hands, stand with your feet hip width apart. While maintaining a neutral flat spine, the shoulders back, and a slight bend in the knee, lower your chest until your upper body and torso are almost parallel to the floor. With your arms fully extended, this is your starting position. Squeeze the handles, and pull the elbows back while keeping the arms tucked in close to the body. Squeeze the shoulder blades back and together as if keeping a pencil between them. Slowly lower the hands so the arms fully extend again, and repeat. Take one foot off the band to lower the resistance, and a wider step between your feet to increase tension.
Standing with your feet hip distance apart, hold the resistance band with both hands across your body. Raise the hands up until they are directly in front of the shoulders. With your palms facing down and the band in your fists, move your hands further apart and pull the band across your chest whilst squeezing the shoulder blades together. Return your hands to the starting position in line with the shoulders.
While standing with your feet on top of the band, hip distance apart, fully extend the arms and hold the handles or sides of the band in your hands. Keeping your elbows pinned to the side, raise the band up so your fists meet your armpits and squeeze the bicep. Like the bent over row, stand on the band with just one foot to decrease the resistance and take a larger stance to increase resistance.
The order in which exercises are completed should follow a specific system that allows for optimum performance and ensures you’ll be getting the most out of your workout. Following the warm up movements should come the compound exercises. Compound exercises are any movements that utilize multiple muscle groups at once. If looking to make strength gains, one should perform a warm up set of the exercise with little to no weight, and then increase the weight while decreasing the amount of repetitions performed. We are trying to achieve progressive overload with each exercise session. This means, over time, we put more “stress”(for example more weight or repetitions) on the muscle causing a physiological adaptation to occur. This physiological adaptation can result in increased muscle mass…aka you get stronger! Examples of compound exercises you can do with dumbbells that work the entire posterior chain are as follows…
Standing with a medium to heavy weight dumbbell placed next to the outside of each foot, sink the shoulder blades back and down. Bend the knees and lower the hips down while maintaining a straight line from head to hip until you can grasp the dumbbells. Gaze straight ahead, keeping the neck in line with the spine, and stand up straight with the dumbbells. Return to your starting position the same way you stood up. Keep the knees apart and pretend to tear apart the floor with the soles of your feet.
Folding at the hip crease while maintaining a flat back, hold a pair of dumbbells out in front of you. Bend the arms at the elbows so the arms, head, and neck, make a “w” shape. Pull the elbows back so as to try and touch them together. Slowly lower the dumbbells until the arms are fully extended again.
While holding two dumbbells in a high plank position, lengthen through the heels and crown of the head. Gazing straight down at the floor, make sure the hands are directly below the shoulders.On an exhale, pick one of the dumbbells up off the floor, making sure the hips move as little as possible. Pull the elbow back and brace through the core. Inhale, and return to the high plank position before repeating on the other side.
With a medium to heavy weight dumbbell in each hand, stand upright with your feet placed hip-width apart. Ensuring the shoulders are drawn back and you are emulating a “proud” chest with a tight core, walk a short distance with the dumbbells. Once you return back to your starting point, set the weights down and take a rest until it is time to move again.
Upon completing the number of repetitions of these compound exercises relative to your goals, it is recommended that complimentary, single-joint exercises follow. If a movement is considered “single-joint”, it just means it utilizes one muscle group surrounding a joint, not multiple like with a compound exercise. Completing complimentary exercises after our compound exercises is beneficial for a couple reasons. First, it ensures the person exercising can give their best effort to the most physically taxing movements. Compound exercises also get the smaller muscles fired up prior to isolating them. This can cause a sort of hypertrophic situation in the muscle, creating what is known as the “pump” in the bodybuilding industry. Let’s take a look at some complimentary dumbbell exercises you can include in your next back day workout.
Supporting the knee on a flat bench, fold at the hip crease and place your hand below your shoulder on the bench. With the other foot extended out at the side for support and a dumbbell in the other hand, exhale while pulling the weight up and squeezing the shoulder blade back. Keeping the elbow tucked in close to the side body, pull the weight up until the dumbbell meets the armpit. Carefully extend the weight back down until you are back to where you began.
Lying on your stomach, hold a pair of dumbbells out in front of you. Inhale, and on exhale, raise the dumbbells and tops of your feet up off the floor. Creating a boat out of your body, stare down at the floor while you hold this shape and squeeze the back muscles. Inhale and relax the body to the ground. Make this movement a little bit harder by alternating lifting the opposite arm and leg off the ground with each rep.
In the same starting position as the superman raises mentioned above, hold two dumbbells out in front of you. On an exhale, raise the dumbbells up off the floor and lower them to your sides without touching them to the ground. Once the dumbbells reach to about the outside of the hip, inhale and return to the starting point. That is one repetition.
With the upper half of your back supported by a flat bench, engage the glutes. Create a straight line from head to hip while holding a dumbbell overhead. Keeping the core tight and hips lifted, send the dumbbell back so it is in line or close to the top of the head. For more support, allow your full back to lie on the bench while you perform repetitions.
Begin standing up right holding a dumbbell in each hand. Folding the body in half at the hip crease, hold the dumbbells together directly below the chest. Staying bent over, pull the dumbbells apart while squeezing the shoulder blades together until the wrists meet the height of the shoulders.
Lying on one side with your knees slightly bent, support your head with the same hand that is closest to the floor. In the other hand, hold a medium to lightweight dumbbell. While gazing straight ahead, raise the dumbbell up from the floor to be in line with the ceiling and your shoulder. Slowly lower the weight back to the ground and repeat.
In the same starting position as the farmer’s carry mentioned earlier, hold a heavyweight dumbbell in each hand. Begin this movement with your shoulders relaxed and down away from your ears. To perform a repetition, do just as the name says and shrug your shoulders up to meet your ears and then lower them back down. Be sure to ground through the feet and keep a tight core.
With these moves, a pair or two of dumbbells is all you really need. It is, in fact, possible to achieve the results and goals you are aspiring for with minimal equipment on hand. So long as the principle of progressive overload is applied to your exercise regime, you will be able to get stronger and build more muscle mass. The next time you are in a time crunch, or are just feeling like having a “no frills” , nothing fancy back day, do not dismiss the benefits of a good dumbbell workout. Mix and match a few of these warm up, compound, and complimentary exercises to create your own custom back day session. Decide which set and repetition range is ideal for you and your goals, and you are ready to work. Happy lifting!