If you want to work your upper body at home, a dumbbell back workout is the perfect thing to add to your routine. That’s because strengthening your back muscles—think your lats, rhomboids, and traps—help improve muscle imbalances and posture.
Thanks to all of the sitting we do—especially now, as we’re hunkering down at home and many of us are working from the couch—our back muscles tend to be weak, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, founder of Strong With Sivan in Baltimore, MD, tells SELF. This lack of proper tension in your muscles can make rounding of your shoulders or a hunched position more likely.
Weak back muscles coupled with lots of sitting can also impair the mobility in your upper back, making it difficult to move your shoulder blades effectively. “A lot of times people will start to get shoulder injuries from that,” she says. “They don’t have enough mobility and strength in the upper back, and when they do any kind of exercises that target the ‘pushing’ muscles, like the shoulder or chest muscles, that’s when we get into trouble.”
That’s why it’s important to show your back muscles some love. And this dumbbell back workout from Fagan will do just that.
Bonus: Each of these exercises has a core-stability component—your core will need to fire since you’re not supported on the ground or a bench—so you’ll seriously work your abs, too.
First, you’ll start with two compound moves—multi-joint exercises that work multiple muscle groups—in the single-arm row and bilateral bent-over row. Both of these are “pulling” movements that will not only get your lats and rhomboids firing, but will also activate your biceps, too. You’ll finish out your first triset with a rear delt fly, which works the back of your shoulders and is “super important for back health and posture,” says Fagan.
Then you’re on to your last superset: a renegade row and bicep curl. The renegade row is also a pulling movement, but it’ll work your shoulders, too—you’ll be holding in a high-plank position—and your core, as your body resists rotating to stay stable as you row with each arm. You’ll finish with a bicep curl, an isolation move that really hones in on the biceps, which serve as a supporting muscle in your bigger compound pulling moves.
Ready to strengthen your back muscles? Get started with this dumbbell workout.