The Dumbbell Bent Over Row is a great exercise to work the back muscles (lats, traps, rhomboids & rear delts). Additionally, because you’re bent over and holding a static position, the erector spinae, QLs and hamstrings are also working isometrically (the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction). This isometric work is particularly beneficial if you are looking to improve extension of the spine or lack hamstring mobility.
The benefit of using dumbbells is that you can alter the grip position as required, whereas you are limited to a supinated or pronated grip position when using a standard bar.
In this month’s Shared PT programme, we used a semi-pronated grip which works a combination of rear delts, lats, traps & rhomboids. A fully pronated BOR would target more rear delts, traps, rhomboids, and less lats; whilst a fully supinated BOR targets the lats a lot more.
If you are purely looking to target your back, for strength or hypertrophy, then it is more effective to support the body on a bench, which prevents any neural drive being wasted on isometrically working the muscles when standing. However, varying your programmes between standing and bench supported Bent Over Rows, as well as varying your grip position is a great way to really develop your back and ensure results don’t plateau!