Build a stronger back in 5 minutes with this dumbbell home workout

Having a stronger back can help you ease back pain and improve workout performance

Athletic man working out in a gym with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It might seem like adulthood is a continuous period of back pain, but it doesn't have to be. Simple and effective home back workouts exist, and these can be done in minutes. No, we aren't suggesting you start doing pull-ups; for this 5-minute workout, all you need is a pair of dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells) to begin building a stronger back.

Some people might suggest you start building strength by doing heavy compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats and these people aren't wrong. However, to perform big compound lifts correctly, you'll need at least a base level of strength and working with dumbbells can help you achieve that.

Not to mention, it's more likely you have a pair of dumbbells at home rather than a pull-up bar or a barbell and weight plates. Better still, dumbbells are the most versatile pieces of home gym equipment that can provide a full-body workout; you can get big arms and sculpt strong glutes using this compact home weight.

Chris Heria, today's instructor, is one of the most popular fitness influencers on social media and is famous for his callisthenics home workouts. This time, he uses a pair of medium-heavy dumbbells to train the back in just five minutes. The exercises are simple enough to be performed in any space, whether it's a living room or your garage gym.

Quick And Effective Home Back Workout: How to do it

This is an AMRAP workout, where AMRAP stands for 'as many reps as possible'. There are only five exercises performed for 45 seconds with a 15-second between. You won't have to count reps; all you need is a timer, or if you're following along with the video, just listen to the queues from Chris.

Remember: if you want to build muscle, you must increase your protein intake and make sure you allow enough rest for your body to recover. A convenient way to sneak in some extra protein into your diet is to have a protein powder or weight gainer shake once a day, preferably after the workout, to help your muscles repair and be ready for the next workout.

The workout split looks something like this:

  • Renegade rows (45 sec): The renegade row exercise effectively works the upper back, the core, the shoulders and the arms. It's paramount to keep the core engaged through the movement. Focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together at each rep.
  • Rest (15 sec)
  • Dumbbell bent-over rows (45 sec): This variation on the barbell bent-over row is one of the best compound exercises for a bigger back. Try slow and controlled movements and lift the dumbbell towards your belly button, not your chest. 
  • Rest (15 sec)
  • Deadlift bent over rows (45 sec): A third exercise that uses the same muscle group – they are probably on fire at this point! Keep your spine in a neutral position – try not to arch your back or look up when you're bent over.
  • Rest (15 sec)
  • Back shrug (45 sec): An excellent exercise for building traps (here are the best trap exercises for variety) and improving grip strength. 
  • Rest (15 sec)
  • Dumbbell reverse flys (45 sec): What an awesome finisher! Reverse flys work not only your upper back but also the rear delts, giving your shoulders that boulder look—an absolute beast of exercise. 

Want to train your back but haven't got any dumbbells? Check out this home back workout from James Middleton, ex-professional rugby player, health coach and certified buff guy. It uses resistance bands and towels only! If you like Chris' workout, have a look at this 10-minute, 10-move dumbbell-only workout to build muscle at home.

We also have a guide on the best lower back exercises and a list of bodyweight exercises to ease back pain. For even more back exercise roundups, read up on the best back exercises; it has all the workouts you need to do to have a strong back. Want to get better at pull-ups? you need to do this 5-minute pull up workout for beginners.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).