How To Do The Tripod Dumbbell Row Properly

Most lifters swear by the tripod dumbbell row, but is it really worth the hype?

You’ll find out all about this popular dumbbell row variation and make your own conclusion by the end of this article.

But for now, let’s talk about how to do it with proper technique before we get to everything else.

For this exercise, you only need a dumbbell and a workout bench, and you’ll be good to go.

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Here are the detailed steps on how to go about it.

How To Do Tripod Dumbbell Row

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  • Stand a few feet away from the bench, holding a dumbbell in one hand with a neutral grip.
  • Bend your knees slightly, brace your core and use the other free hand to support yourself on the bench.
  • Retract your shoulder blades and drive the working elbow towards your waist to begin the movement.
  • Pull the weight towards your hip until your elbow is slightly past your midline and then lower it slowly back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for your desired number of reps on both sides.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE TRIPOD DUMBBELL ROW WORK?

LATISSIMUS DORSI

The latissimus dorsi (or the lats) run along the sides of your back, and they are primary movers in the tripod dumbbell row.

Make sure you lead with your elbows during this exercise to allow for maximum shoulder extension.

This will help your lats contract fully.

RHOMBOIDS, REAR DELTOIDS AND TRAPEZIUS

The rhomboids and trapezius (traps) are the upper back muscles responsible for pulling your shoulder blades towards each other.

The rear deltoids on the back of your shoulders also help in pulling the scapulae down.

All these muscles help move the weight towards your hip and back down during this movement.

BICEPS BRACHII

The biceps brachii ( or biceps) is located on the front side of your upper arm and its function is to flex your elbow by contracting as your arm bends.

When you are doing the tripod dumbbell row, you should feel very minimal bicep engagement because this muscle is a secondary mover in this exercise.

If you feel your biceps get too involved you can reduce the load or visualize your scapulae squeezing together at the top of the rep to minimize their engagement.

TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS

The transverse abdominis is the innermost muscle in your core that braces your spine and keeps your torso steady during this movement.

ERECTOR SPINAE

The erector spinae is the collective term for the eight muscles that run from the back of your head to the base of your pelvis, whose function is to help you maintain proper posture as you work out.

To minimize the risk of injuring them during this exercise, keep your core tight, chest high and your lower back arched slightly.

BENEFITS OF THE TRIPOD DUMBBELL ROW

ENHANCED CORE STABILITY

On the face of it, the tripod dumbbell row looks nothing like a core exercise but in real sense, it demands quite a lot from your core muscles.

When you keep your core tight to help prevent your spine from overarching, you also bolster the stability of your core muscles.

IMPROVED POSTURE

Any exercise that strengthens your core and back also improves your posture.

The tripod dumbbell row contracts the muscles in your upper back and lengthens your chest muscles to prevent muscle imbalances in your torso hence improving your posture.

INCREASED FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH

The tripod dumbbell row uses a motion pattern that you use in your everyday life, which makes it a highly functional movement.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE TRIPOD DUMBBELL ROW

INVERTED ROW

The inverted row is a bodyweight movement that works your back using only a straight bar fixed at waist level.

The primary muscles it works are your lats, shoulders, core and biceps.

How to do it:

  • Find a straight bar that is fixed at waist height.
  • Get under the bar and use an overhand grip to grab it shoulder-width apart.
  • With your feet straight and arms stretched out, pull yourself up slowly until your chest comes into contact with the bar. As you pull yourself up, squeeze your shoulder blades and straighten your back.
  • Then, lower yourself slowly as you maintain a tight core.
  • Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

LYING BENCH ROW

The lying bench row provides you with multiple benefits, including increased shoulder mobility, enhanced back strength and better posture.

To do it, you need a bench and a pair of dumbbells.

Here are the steps:

  • Get a workout bench and set it to about 30⁰ off the ground or any other position you feel comfortable in.
  • Grab the dumbbells, one in each hand and lie on the bench face down. Make sure the balls of your feet can touch the ground to give you support.
  • Bring the weights slowly towards the bench, making sure your elbows stay tucked in at the top of the rep.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps each.

TRIPOD DUMBBELL ROW MISTAKES TO AVOID

NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE

Make sure to keep some tension in your core as you pull the dumbbell towards your body to ensure you don’t over-arch your spine.

RELYING ON YOUR BICEPS

Most lifters inadvertently make this mistake when they use heavy weights which shift the focus from the back muscles to the biceps.

To keep the tension in your back, use light weight as you begin and squeeze your shoulder blades towards your spine at the top of the rep.

ARCHING YOUR LOWER BACK

This is a common mistake in most rowing exercises.

When you round your back, you place unnecessary pressure on your spine, which puts your lower back at risk of injury.

Try to draw your navel in towards your spine to help keep your core engaged so that your lower back doesn’t arch as you lift and lower the weight.

WRAPPING UP

The tripod dumbbell row is a fantastic free weight option for working your back if you are not keen on using machines.

In addition to the multiple muscles it works in your body, this exercise also improves your posture and functional strength by mimicking your everyday movements.

Consider it for your back workout and you’ll have little to regret!