15-Minute Upper Back Workout With Dumbbells

Oct 13, 2016 //

If you’re short on time and trying to fit in a quick workout to target your back muscles, look no further than this simple workout.

Any workout that seeks to get results in a short amount of time is almost always going to be HIIT-style (high intensity interval training), which means you’ll be doing several different exercises in a row without taking any breaks (or with very short breaks). This way, your heart rate will stay up for the duration of the workout, maximizing its effectiveness.

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For this quick, 15-minute workout, you will need a set of dumbbells and a workout bench. Before you begin, make sure to warm and stretch out thoroughly, focusing on stretches that affect your shoulders and arms.

When you’re ready, set a recurring timer for one minute intervals, with 20-second rest periods. The shorter you can make your rest periods without affecting your technique, the better. If you’re up for a challenge, work your core during those 20-second rest periods by doing crunches or planks as an active recovery.

1. Wide Row

  1. To begin this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lower yourself into squat position, with your butt out and your knees over your feet.
  3. Lift both dumbbells up to your chest, making sure to keep your legs and torso steady.
  4. Your arms and back should be doing most of the work.
  5. Lower the weights back down carefully and repeat.
  6. Continue for one minute, then immediately move on to the next exercise.

2. Back Fly

  1. Lie down on the workout bench, face down, holding one dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in.
  2. Your elbows should be at 90 degrees, holding the dumbbells just off the floor.
  3. Raise the dumbbells out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor.
  4. After a beat, lower the dumbbells back down.
  5. You can also do this exercise on an incline.
  6. Repeat as many times as possible for one minute, then move on to the next exercise.

3. Bent Over Row

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Bend down as if you were trying to touch your toes, and grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  3. In the bent over position, keep your back straight as you pull the dumbbells up to your stomach.
  4. After a beat, lower the dumbbells back down, but don’t let them touch the floor.
  5. Do as many reps as you can in one minute, then move on to the next exercise.

4. Dumbbell Push-Up Into Rows

This two-in-one exercise will really work your upper back.

  1. Start in a pushup position with each hand on a dumbbell.
  2. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart for added stability.
  3. Lower yourself down, making sure to keep your back straight and rigid.
  4. When you come back up, transfer all the weight to one side, then lift the other side up, pulling the dumbbell up toward your chest in a row.
  5. Lower the dumbbell back to the ground and do another pushup.
  6. This time, when you come back up, do a row on the other side.
  7. Continue alternating for two minutes, then move on to the next exercise.

5. Jumping Jacks

Okay, so this exercise does not involve dumbbells, but we’ve included it in this routine to add some cardio and keep your heart rate up before you dive into another round. Yes, you’re going to do this circuit twice!

  1. To perform a jumping jack, stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides.
  2. Jump slightly into the air and land with your feet apart, while you bring your hands up above your head in a wide arc. Keep your arms and legs braced (no flapping around).
  3. Jump your feet back together and bring your hands back to your sides.
  4. Continue performing jumping jacks for one minute.

If you’d rather not do jumping jacks, you can replace this exercise with any other cardio move, like high knees, jump rope, or even burpees if you’re up for a challenge. It’s up to you, as long as you keep moving.

Cool Down And Variations

When you’re done with the entire workout, make sure you take a moment to cool down. Do some walking laps around the gym while you rehydrate and allow your heartrate to return to normal. The last thing you want to do after an intense, 15-minute workout is sit down and do nothing. Keep gently moving for a few minutes, then rest.

If you have more time, you can always do additional circuits, or add in other exercises. Combine this circuit with other exercises that target different muscle groups to get a more complete workout.