The chest-supported dumbbell row is an amazing way to train your back and it can be altered minorly to target different areas. It provides a larger range of motion to using a barbell. Using a bench to support your chest removes the majority of momentum, therefore targeting the back more effectively and reducing the risk of injury.

How to:

  • First of all, set up your adjustable bench to a 45-degree angle.
  • Choose an appropriate set of dumbbells that suits your ability.
  • Place the dumbbells on either side of the top end of the bench.
  • Now lie on the bench with your chest towards the top end of the bench.
  • Whilst maintaining contact between your chest and the bench, pick up a dumbbell in either hand.
  • Now bring the dumbbells towards your sides, driving your elbows towards the ceiling.
  • Repeat this movement for desired number of reps and then place the dumbbells back onto the ground.

Top tips:

  • Avoid putting your elbows at a 90-degree angle as this can cause unnecessary stress on the shoulder area.
  • Control the lowering (eccentric) part of the movement to improve stability, muscle activation and injury risk mitigation.
  • Use a full range of motion, ensure you touch your sides at the top of the rep and allow a full stretch on your back at the bottom of the rep.


  • A barbell can be used instead of dumbbells to make the movement more stable if you are struggling with the dumbbell variation, however this will limit range of motion as the barbell will hit the bench.
  • Using different levels of angle between your body and arm can change the area of focus on your back. To target lower-mid back (lats) keep your elbows tight to your sides, to target mid back allow a 45-degree angle, and to hit upper back have your elbows at around a 60-70-degree angle.

Grab one of the gym team for help setting up this exercise and to make sure you are getting the most out of it!

Blog by Alex Boardman – Personal Trainer (Boardman Personal Training)