Centr Team

5 dumbbell back exercises to minimize pain

Centr Team

You might feel it after a long day at work. It could strike during a pick-up game with your buddies. Maybe it’s a dull ache that never goes away…

Back pain is considered a leading cause of disability worldwide by the WHO, and one of the best ways you can prevent or minimize this pain is by building strength with dumbbell back exercises.

Let’s did into all the reasons you should be building a stronger back, then get you started with some of our favorite back exercises with dumbbells.

The benefits of a strong back

Whether you’re just getting into fitness, or starting up again after a break, it’s important to make back-building exercises a part of your routine. If you have dumbbells at home, you’re ready to reap benefits like:

  1. Improved posture: A strong back supports the spine and helps hold you upright. And let’s face it, everyone’s posture could do with a bit of help these days, given the amount of time we spend slumped over our devices.
  2. A stronger core: Your core includes your back muscles, and a strong core is important for reducing pain and moving better.
  3. Reduced back pain: Strong back muscles support the spine and can alleviate pressure on the lower back, reducing the likelihood of chronic pain.
  4. Overall strength: A strong back supports your whole body. For instance, if you want to build stronger biceps or legs, you need a strong back to support the lifts that will grow strength in those areas.

Centr trainer Luke Zocchi performs a shoulder press with a pair of adjustable dumbbells.

With the Smart Stack 50 Adjustable Dumbbell, available from, you can continue to grow your back strength at home.

Age-proofing your back

As well as preventing (or reducing) back pain, a strong back is key to staying active as you age.

  1. Maintain independence: Strong back muscles are crucial for mobility. They help to retain balance and stability, both of which are essential to continue doing things for yourself as you age.

  2. Reduced fall risk: Older adults are at a higher risk of falls, and those falls can be deadly. A strong back contributes to better overall balance and body control, reducing the likelihood of falls and, if you do fall, the severity of injuries.
  3. Keep bones and joints healthy: As we age, we lose bone density and become more prone to things like osteoarthritis and spinal degeneration. Strength training will support your joint health, reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, and can also help you to literally build more bone.

Start your back workout with dumbbells

Ready to build a powerful back? If you’re new to weight training, start with light dumbbells then increase weight as you nail the form and grow stronger.

1. Dumbbell good mornings

Target: Lower back (erector spinae), as well as hamstrings and glutes

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a single dumbbell behind your neck, so your hands are sitting above each shoulder.

  • Engage your core, then hinge at the hips and push your butt back to bend forward – your back should remain straight.

  • Keep bending forward until your chest is parallel to the floor. Pause briefly at this position, then return to standing.

2. Dumbbell underhand-grip bent-over row

Target: Middle back (rhomboids, latissimus dorsi) and biceps

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up.

  • Bend at the knees slightly, then tip forward at the hips, letting the dumbbells hang toward your feet.

  • Keeping your back flat and elbows close to your body, pull the dumbbells up towards your chest.

  • Raise your elbows as high as they can go above your back – then lower the weights back down again slowly and with control.

3. Dumbbell incline rear fly

Target: Upper back (rear deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids)

How to do it:

  • Lie chest-down on an incline bench at 45 degrees, toes on the floor.

  • Hold the dumbbells together in front of your chest, arms hanging down toward the floor.

  • Keeping your core engaged and back straight, raise the dumbbells up and out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor – dumbbells level with your shoulders.

  • Feel the squeeze through your shoulder blades, then slowly lower the dumbbells back together beneath your chest.

4. Dumbbell bench pull-over

Target: Upper back (latissimus dorsi), plus chest and shoulders.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back on a bench, knees bent and feet on the floor.

  • Using both hands, hold a single dumbbell by one end above your head, palms facing up to the ceiling – your shoulder blades should be pushing into the bench.

  • Slowly and with control, reach your arms back to lower the dumbbell toward the floor until your upper arms are beside your ears, elbows pointing to the ceiling.

  • Pull your arms back up to return to the starting position.

5. Dumbbell renegade rows

Target: Middle back (latissimus dorsi)

How to do it:

  • Take a high plank position, knees on the floor, feet around shoulder-width apart, with each hand holding a dumbbell positioned beneath your shoulders.

  • Engage your core, then, keeping your elbow close to your body, row the right dumbbell up toward your armpit, feeling the squeeze in your shoulder blades as you lift your elbow as high above your back as it can go.

  • Return to the starting position, then repeat with the left dumbbell. Continue alternating sides.

Want to keep building your total-body strength with dumbbells?


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