Chest Supported Dumbbell Row For a Strong, Defined Back

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Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

If you’re looking for an intense upper-back workout, the chest-supported dumbbell row is perfect.

This exercise works your back muscles in a way that’s similar to a bent-over barbell row, but with less stress on your lower back.

With this exercise, you can focus on contracting your back and get a great workout.

In this article, I will cover everything you need to know to get the most out of this exercise.

So read on, and I am sure you will be performing the chest-supported dumbbell row for a superb upper-back workout in no time!

How To Perform Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows

  1. Set up an incline bench at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Lie chest down on the bench and grab a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand or neutral grip.
  3. Bend your legs so that your feet are secured on the floor and retract your shoulder blades.
  4. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, slowly draw the dumbbells up towards your hips or chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, then carefully lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat this motion for several repetitions, then take a break and repeat the process.


  • Practice using lighter weight for higher reps at first to perfect form.
  • Bring the dumbbells up to about chest height with an overhand grip to focus more on the traps and rhomboids.
  • Pull the dumbbells up the sides of your hips/waist with a neutral grip to target lower lats.
  • Don’t let the dumbbells touch the ground at the bottom of each rep.

Performing chest-supported dumbbell rows is a great way to strengthen your back while minimizing stress on your spine.

This exercise can be performed using a variety of different weights, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced lifters alike.

Common Mistakes

Some common mistakes that are made when performing the chest supported dumbbell row include the following:

  • Overusing the biceps during the unilateral pulling phase.
    • Focus on pulling with the elbows to achieve better back engagement and less bicep engagement.
  • Speeding through the reps and sets
    • This is an exhausting back exercise. Give yourself adequate rest between sets so you can perform each set to your best ability.
    • Be sure to squeeze your muscles at the top of the movement and slowly lower the weight down.
  • Loose footing/feet slipping out of place
    • Be sure to start with your feet in a planted position to allow for maximum stability.

Set and Rep Examples

  • For beginners, aim for a lighter weight that you can lift for 3×12-15 reps
  • Hypertrophy lifters should use a heavy enough resistance that they can lift for 4×6-8 reps
  • Strength lifters can use weights that they can lift for 5×3-5 reps
  • Powerlifters can use a weight that they can lift for 6×1-3 reps
  • Bodybuilders may use a resistance that they can lift for 8×8-12 reps

Choosing the right weights is important when performing the chest-supported dumbbell row.

If the weights are too light, you will not be able to challenge your muscles and get the most out of the exercise.

On the other hand, if it is too heavy, you may risk injury or poor form which can diminish the effectiveness of the workout.

A good tip for building up to heavier weights while maintaining good technique includes starting with a lighter weight and higher reps at first.

This will ensure proper form and technique.

Then slowly increase the weight over a few weeks in small 5 LB increments.

Chest Supported Dumbbell Row: Benefits

Chest-supported dumbbell rows are a great exercise for targeting the back.

The extra stability provided by the chest support allows for more isolation of the back muscle, while also reducing strain on the lower back.

Only an adjustable bench and dumbbells are required, making this a very versatile exercise that can be performed in almost any corner of the gym or a home gym.


  • Target back muscles more effectively
  • Reduce lower back strain
  • Requires minimal equipment
  • Improved posture
  • Build a stronger, more muscular back
  • Build a sense of confidence and pride as you achieve your fitness goals with chest supported dumbbell rows.

Whether you’re looking to bulk up your back muscle, build bigger biceps, or simply improve your mind-muscle connection, this versatile exercise can help you get there.

So why wait?

Sign up for a gym or grab some dumbbells, and start performing chest supported dumbbell rows today!

Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows: Muscles Worked

The main muscles worked with chest-supported dumbbell rows include the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboid.

These are the muscles of the back.

Rear delts and Biceps are the secondary targets of this back-focused exercise.

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in the back, and it extends from the lower back to the upper arm.


The trapezius is a triangular muscle that extends from the neck to the middle of the back.


The rhomboids are small muscles that attach the shoulder blades to the spine.


Biceps are the muscles in your arm that help you do things like pick up items, improve posture, and support arm/shoulder stability.

Rear Deltoids

The rear deltoids are a muscle in the shoulder that helps with abduction (lifting away from the body), extension (lifting up), and medial rotation (turning inward).

They are often worked when doing exercises like chest-supported dumbbell rows, lateral raises, and reverse flys.

Chest Supported Row: Variations

Below is a list of multiple variations and alternatives for chest-supported dumbbell rows.

Be sure to always use proper form and consult a doctor or fitness professional if you have any concerns about your ability to perform these exercises safely.

Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Supported Row

  1. Lie face down on an incline bench with your right palm flat on the bench, legs together, and weight in your left hand.
  2. Position your right hand and arm on the bench so that your upper body is stabilized and your hand is directly under your shoulder.
  3. Retract your shoulder blades and lift one dumbbell in your left hand to the side of your chest or hip, keeping your elbow close to your body.
  4. Pause for a moment, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the movement with your right arm.

This single-arm chest-supported version is great for fixing any imbalances you may have in your back or shoulders.

To properly train unilaterally be sure to start with the weaker side and perform an equal amount of sets and reps with each side.

Chest Supported Barbell Rows

  1. Position a barbell on the floor in front of you and lie chest-down on an adjustable bench so that your upper chest and shoulders are supported by the bench.
  2. Reach down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing your thighs.
  3. Keeping your back flat, pull the bar up to the level of your lower chest.
  4. Squeeze your back muscles and hold for a second, then slowly return the bar to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

When performing chest-supported rows with a barbell, be sure to keep your back flat throughout the entire exercise.

Also, be sure to squeeze your back at the top of the movement for maximum benefit.

Return the bar to the starting position slowly, under control.

Focus on keeping the back engaged by moving with the elbows rather than the biceps.

Chest Supported Seated Machine Row

  1. Sit facing the machine row with your feet on the footplates or floor, beyond shoulder-width apart.
  2. Set the seat so that your chest is resting comfortably against the pad support.
  3. Grip the handles with your palms facing down or in.
  4. Row the weight until your elbows are close to your sides.
  5. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the movement, focusing on keeping your back flat and core engaged throughout the exercise.
  7. To increase the challenge, you can try adding extra weight to the machine or attaching a heavy resistance band.

Chest Supported T Bar Rows

  1. Start by filling the T-bar machine with weighted plates.
  2. Pull your T-bar toward your chest by bracing your core and contracting your abdominals
  3. Hold your elbows close to your sides, then squeeze your shoulder blades.
  4. Your back muscle should be contracting as you bring the weight up.
  5. Squeeze the weight at the top before lowering it back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Build a Bigger Back With Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows!

If you’re looking for an intense upper-back workout, the chest-supported dumbbell row is perfect.

This exercise works your back in a way that provides more back isolation without having to put too much emphasis on keeping your body stabilized.

  • Target the main muscles of your back more effectively
  • Reduce lower back strain
  • Requires minimal equipment
  • Build a stronger, more defined back
  • Improved focus on the mind-to-muscle connection

You want to work the muscles of your back, but don’t want the stress on your lower back that comes with bent-over rows.

The chest-supported dumbbell row is the perfect exercise for working your back without putting too much stress on these other areas.

With this exercise, you can really focus on your upper back and get a great workout.

So if you’re looking to target the muscles in your upper back and improve your mind-muscle connection.

Then the chest-supported dumbbell row is the perfect exercise for you.

Give it a try today!

Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at!