5. Dumbbell bent-over row
Back rows work your entire back and can work your core muscles if you keep your abdominal muscles pulled in and your back flat.1
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees slightly, pushing your hips back, and bend forward at your hips without rounding your back. Hold the weights straight down from your shoulders with your wrists facing back and your knuckles facing forward. Pull the weights straight up to the sides, bending your elbows, while keeping your torso in the same position. You are only moving your arms, not the rest of your body. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as your elbows reach to the ceiling.2
- Slowly lower the weights to start position. Be sure to keep your back flat. Do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each.
For those sunny summer days where clothing may be a little more optional, Sloan recommends the bent-over row, calling it “one of the best movements for improving posture and building those muscles in the mid-back area.” She says, “These are the muscles you will see in that swimsuit!” To get the most out of the exercise, Marks advises, “When you perform this exercise, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together.”