Dumbbells are such an effective way to get plenty of volume through both sets and reps. Here are 12 exercises you can use to get your pulling reps in. Creating a pull workout will be easy with all these dumbbell upper body pull exercises to use.
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Dumbbell pulling exercises are excellent for multiple training goals and will be used in most strength and conditioning programmes due to their effectiveness. Here we have 12 of these variations that you can use in your training. We also discuss which exercises should be used for which training goal and why.
Dumbbell pull exercises are excellent for building volume working the muscles in the back, resulting in high levels of muscle gains. The simplicity of most of the exercises makes them easy to learn and easy to perform at high volumes creating a perfect type of exercise to build muscles.
In a lot of sports pulling strength is important to dominating contacts, from rugby to martial arts. Building strength in this movement pattern will put you in a good position to perform in the cage or on the pitch.
A lot of these dumbbell pulling exercises involve the use of core stability. This will simultaneously improve your core strength even if the primary emphasis is the pulling motion.
Here we will discuss which exercises should be used for specific goals. Remember that just because an exercise isn’t the ideal selection doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective. So although some exercises might be more suited to a specific population doesn’t mean it cannot be used by another.
Using dumbbell pull exercises to gain muscle mass is very effective. However some variations are much more beneficial than others for muscle growth.
The most effective is the DB 1-Arm Low Row as it uses three points of contact to create stability, taking emphasis away from core stability and towards pulling strength.
The worst variation for gaining muscle mass is the DB Quadrupled Renegade Row as it requires so much core stability it will be very hard to overload the pulling movement pattern.
Beginners need simplicity to perform exercises to a high volume, they may also have weak cores and find it difficult to deal with movements that have multiple goals. This makes the DB 1-Arm Low Row perfect for beginners to learn the dumbbell pulling movement. That being said it can be beneficial for beginners to learn how to deal with movements that have multiple goals once the basic movement pattern has been dialled in. This makes the Hands Elevated Renegade Row a great exercise for beginners to add some complexity to their pulling work.
Beginners who havn’t been able to learn how to hold the spine in a fixed position under fatigue should not be expected to perform DB Bent Over Rows with good technique and variations like the tri-pod stance row should be used instead to to take the emphasis off the lower back.
Athletes need to be strong and powerful, in order for this to be the case, they need to master the basics and be strong and stable in all the most simple pulling exercises. Once these basics have been mastered, using different variations like the chainsaw row can be a great way to use dumbbell pulling variation to improve sports performance.
If you’re stuck with limited equipment and only have access to one dumbbell then the two go to variations are the single arm bent over row and DB Crush Grip Bent Over Row. Which one you chose will depend on how strong you are in accordance to the weight of the dumbbell at hand, if it’s heavy for you, use the DB Crush Grip Bent Over Row, if it’s to light use the single arm pull variation.
Workout splits depend on a lot of factors like lifestyle, availability, ability etc. Rather than focusing on a specific movement pattern day, try and think about how much volume of that movement pattern you can accumulate during a week. In order to gain muscle mass try and accumulate 8-12 working sets in the horizontal pulling pattern. To read more about this, have a read through this great study by Brad Jon Schoenfeld, Jozo Grgic & James Krieger (1) on volume and how it relates to hypertrophy. Or for more practical advice have a read through the industry leader in hypertrophy training RP Strength .
No. This will not create large amounts of imbalance unless the training programme is terrible and doesn’t fluctuate between the differing amounts of volume for the two movement patterns.
No. It focuses primarily on the muscles in the upper back but also includes the bicep muscle as well.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.