How to Do Dumbbell Rear Delt Row Properly

The dumbbell rear delt row is a compound exercise that focuses on multiple upper body muscles and joints.

It is also a great exercise to build your shoulders, arms and back.

The dumbbell rear delt row is also perfect if you have limited space and can’t use barbells.

To do this exercise:

  • Hold the dumbbell with your left hand with a neutral grip.
  • Stand to the side of a bench then place your right knee on the bench under your hips. Brace yourself with your right hand under your shoulder.
  • Keep your spine neutral and your core tightened.
  • Pull the weight up until it is beside your ribs.
  • With controlled movement, lower the dumbbell to starting position.
  • Switch arms.
  • Repeat three sets of about 10 reps.

What Muscles do Dumbbell Rear Delt Row Work

The primary muscles that the dumbbell rear delt row targets are the deltoids.

The exercise also targets the traps, biceps, rhomboids and forearms.

1.      DELTOIDS

The deltoids are the triangular-shaped muscles that cover the shoulder.

They are made of three main muscles.

Anterior deltoids are the muscles at the front of the shoulder. The anterior delts help the shoulder rotate inwards.

Medial deltoids are found on the side of the upper arms. They are responsible for drawing the arm.

Rear or posterior deltoids are found on the back of the shoulder. They are responsible for the lateral rotation and extension of the arm.

The dumbbell rear delt row activates the delts every time you lift the weight.

2.      TRAPS

The trapezius, also known as the traps, is a large muscle in the shape of a trapezoid found on your back.

It extends from the base of your skull to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine.

The traps help support the arms.

When doing the rear delt row, the traps are engaged when you elevate and depress the shoulder blade.

The traps also play a role in stabilizing the head and neck.

The upper traps help lift the shoulder blade. It also helps extend, rotate and tilt your head.

The middle traps help with retracting the shoulders toward the spine. They also help stabilize the shoulder through lifting movements.

The lower traps help move the shoulder blades downwards.

3.      BICEPS

The biceps are the muscles found on the front of the upper arm.

Their main function is flexion at the elbow, moving your palms to face toward or away from you.

They also provide support to your elbows when they’re being flexed or extended during a dynamic movement.


These are muscles found in the lower mid-back. They are made of the rhomboid major and rhomboid minor.

The rhomboid major is located directly below your rhomboid minor. It is thin and flat. The rhomboid minor is slightly thicker than the rhomboid major.

The rhomboids play a major role in pulling your shoulder blades together. They also help in shrugging the shoulders.

5.      FOREARMS

The forearm refers to the muscles in the front part of the arm.

It is made up of 20 muscles. These muscles help control the hand and wrist motion.

The forearms are engaged by gripping the dumbbell.

The forearm muscles are involved in grip strength, flexion of the elbow, flexion and extension of the wrist, rotating the wrist and tactile activities such as writing.


The dumbbell rear delt row has multiple advantages.


If you have a sedentary lifestyle where you sit at a desk all day or stand at a counter most of the day, this exercise can help you improve your posture.

Strengthening your rear delts will tighten your upper back and help straighten your posture which will prevent future slouching.

This is will also help reduce the risk of back pain.


Stronger rear delts help make your shoulders stronger.

This helps boost your power when lifting heavy weights.

It also provides more stability when you’re exercising or doing day to day activities.


Due to the effect of stronger shoulders, the increased muscle in your shoulders and upper back reduces the risk of rotator cuff injuries.

If you’re an athlete who relies on upper body strength or a lot of arm movement, having more stable and stronger shoulders reduces the risk of arm injuries.


The majority of weight resistance training exercises have significant benefits to bone density and bone structure.

Placing weights on the musculoskeletal system triggers the production of anabolic hormones which reinforce and repair the tissues in that system.

The dumbbell rear delt row reinforces the bones in the upper body when mechanical stress is placed on the shoulders and upper back.



This exercise is a great alternative to the dumbbell rear delt row because you can use any weights and it helps improve grip strength.

To do this exercise:

  • Pick up your weights of choice.
  • Stand tall and walk at a comfortable pace.
  • Engage your core, pull your shoulders back, keep your head straight while looking ahead.
  • Train for three to five rounds with a weight you can carry for 20 seconds.

2.      CHIN UPS

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a bar with an underhand grip and have your hands six to eight inches apart.
  • Hang at arm’s length and point your legs slightly in front of you to form a wide C.
  • Press your thighs and brace your abs.
  • Keep your body rigid for the entire motion.
  • Pull your elbows to your ribs and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Pull yourself up and imagine you’re pressing down on top of the bar.
  • Look straight ahead and lift until your neck or upper chest touch the bar.
  • Hold the position then slowly lower your body to a dead hang.


Avoid jumping into the dumbbell rear delt row without stretching your delts. This helps reduce the risk of injury and minimize the chance of shoulder pain.

Stretching also helps maintain your flexibility.

Avoid rounding your back. This means your core isn’t engaged. Tighten your abs to avoid this mistake.

Avoid misaligning your neck with your spine. Keep your back flat and neutral. If your neck and spine aren’t aligned, it can lead to nerve damage.

Using weights that are too heavy means you will engage your biceps rather than your rear delts. Squeeze your shoulder blades as you pull the weight towards your body to ensure you engage your delts.


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