The back consists of the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids major and minor, and erector spinae muscles. This is the order from largest to smallest size. When you want to build your back muscles and all you have is dumbbells, there is no need to worry. You still can do plenty of exercises to work every area of your back.
Pullovers are performed with a bench and one dumbbell. Place your shoulders flat on the bench, lying across it in a perpendicular position. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be bent. Grasp the inside of one weighted end of a dumbbell, with your hands overlapping. Carefully push the weight above your chest, and maintain a slight bend in your elbows. After tightening your core, lower the dumbbell behind your head in an arcing motion. Once you feel a strong contraction in your chest and the sides of your upper back (lats), raise the dumbbell back up and repeat.
Bent-over rows are executed with two dumbbells. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, with your palms facing you. Slowly bend forward and let the dumbbells hang straight down. Once your back is almost parallel to the floor, pull the dumbbells up to the sides of your stomach. Squeeze your shoulders blades together, lower the weights back down, and repeat.
Deadlifts target your lower back, glutes and quads. Place two dumbbells on the floor, slightly farther apart than the width of your shoulders. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend down and grab the weights. Once you have tightened your core, stand up and let the weights hang by your sides. Slowly lower them back to the floor and repeat.
Straight-leg deadlifts are known as a hamstring exercise, but they also place emphasis on your lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, with your palms facing you. Keep your core tight as you bend forward at the hips. As you do this, lower the dumbbells toward the floor. Once you feel a strong contraction in your lower back and hamstrings, raise back up and repeat.
About this Author
Kevin Rail has worked in the fitness industry since 2001 and has been writing since 2004. He has professional experience as a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, motivational engineer and freelance fitness writer. He currently writes a monthly column for Ron Jones High-Performance Health. Rail has a bachelor’s degree in sports management: fitness and wellness from California University of Pennsylvania.