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This lightweight dumbbell finisher will blast your entire back



The bent row of dumbbells is one of the best ways to build total back strength, blasting your mid back and lats throughout the row, and attacking your lower back (and your core too!) By asking you to maintain complete stability.

With this upgrade to the move from Men health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, also becomes a perfect home pull, attacking your back with lighter weights and allowing you to tax your rear deltoids as well. “The bent row can be used in a number of ways,” says Samuel. “Usually we think of loading our rows and we should. But here we focus on being explosive when rowing and then overloading our rear delts as we descend.”

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Samuel’s two-position curved row starts out like a standard dumbbell row with the palms of the hands neutral, albeit of a lighter weight. “This is an opportunity to pull explosively,” he says. “And really own the squeeze at the top of the repetition.”

From there it gets tricky as you move your arms outward into a wider row taxing your rear delts and then slowly lower. “The more we emphasize the back delts over the lats, the less weight we can use,” says Samuel. “So we used a lighter weight to start the series, but that light weight should still be higher than you would use for a rear delta fly, for example,” says Samuel. “This way we can eccentrically overload the rear delts while slowly lowering the weight.”

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The combination of movements forms both posterior and posterior delts and works with a variety of devices. Dumbbells and kettlebells are ideal, but you can use other items as well. Stuck at home? Fill two backpacks with equally weighted books or grab gallons of water and you can attack that too.

  • Start in the standard position of the bent row, with a firm core and knees slightly bent
  • Row both weights up, keeping your upper arms neutral against your torso and palms. Be explosive. Stop when you reach the top of the motion.
  • Hold your shoulder blades firmly, being careful not to bend your traps. Move your elbows at a 45 degree angle to your torso or slightly wider. “Make sure you are comfortable and strong everywhere,” says Samuel.
  • Slowly lower the weights, remembering to lower them for 2 to 3 counts.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 8 to 10 repetitions.
  • Do 3 sets.

    The two-way bent-over range works best as a back-day finisher, says Samuel. “We can’t handle this hard enough to really overload our back, and that’s what you want to do first,” he says. “So save it for the end of your session when you’re trying to collect a little more time under tension and work with lighter loads.” It can also work within a circuit training or on a push-pull day.

    For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full list of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more specialized routine, consider Eb’s New muscle rules Program.

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