There are some exercises that are done to target a specific muscle without involving too much of core and stabilizer muscles. One of them is the incline bench dumbbell row. In this exercise, you cannot use much momentum as the body is on the bench and it targets exactly the lats, rhomboids, and other major back muscles.

However, you will need an incline bench to do this. So if you are at home or you can’t access the incline bench, then what to do?

So here, in this article, I have shared some of the best alternatives to incline dumbbell row. Most of these exercises can be done at home with just basic home gym equipment. Also, if you want to add some new exercises to your back workout, you can find those exercises here.

But before sharing the alternatives, I will discuss the muscles that are engaged during an incline dumbbell row.

Muscles Worked During Incline Dumbbell Row

During an incline bench dumbbell row, your lats, rhomboids, teres major, and mid-back muscles are the primary muscles that are worked. Along with these, the bicep is also engaged during the exercise and acts as a secondary muscle. The mid and lower trapezius muscles act as a synergist and help in assisting the primary muscles.

Incline Dumbbell Row Alternatives

1. Bent Over Row

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Bent over row is one of the best alternatives to incline dumbbell row. Bent over row is a compound movement and you will engage more muscles compared to dumbbell row on an incline bench.

During a bent-over row, you will use more core and other stabilizer muscles. However, in an inclined row, you will only target the lats, traps, and other back muscles. So bent-over row is more athletic movement.

Targeted muscles – lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps, abs and biceps

How to do

1. Place your feet under the barbell. Bend down by moving your hips back and then lift the bar with your arms.

2. Now bend again by taking your hips back and stopping when the barbell reaches the knee level. Keep your chest up, this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the weights up towards your stomach while keeping your chest up and shoulders retracted. Your lower back should not round during the movement.

4. Gradually lower the bar back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps- 10-12

As you go down to lift the barbell, Your hips should go back as if there is a chair behind you and you have to sit. Your chest should also be up as you go down. This keeps your back flat allowing you to be in the right position to perform the exercise.

2. T Bar Row

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This is a compound movement that will increase the strength and will give you thickness and size to your back. If you look at the joint movement and your hand positioning during the T bar rows, it is similar to the incline bench dumbbell row. So it is another great alternative exercise you can add to your workout.

Targeted muscles- Latissimus dorsi, traps, teres major, biceps

How to do

1. Take one barbell and place the one end of it at the corner of the floor or fix it inside a landmine base. Add the weights on the other side of the barbell.

2. Stand at a shoulder-width stance and grab the barbell. You can also use a close grip bar which is used to perform seated cable rows. This will increase the range of motion.

3. With your shoulders back, start lifting the barbell and take it to your waist. Don’t bend your lower back during the movement.

4. Return back to the starting position slowly and then repeat the movement.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Go heavy on this. Make sure to keep your back straight during each rep. You can do this exercise at the beginning stage of your workout as it is a heavy compound exercise.

3. Landmine Row

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This exercise is another different way to train the lats. Here, you need a landmine setup. This is a unilateral exercise where you can focus on each side separately. If you have one side weaker than the other, then you should do this exercise. It is a compound movement and will target the same muscles. So another alternative option for you!

Targeted muscles – Lats, rhomboids, traps, teres major

How to do

1. Set a barbell in the landmine setup and stand just beside the bar.

2. Now bend down by taking your hips back and grab at the end part of a barbell from one hand. Your hips should be back and your chest should be up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start lifting the barbell up by flexing your lats. Your elbow should be in to make it an exact alternative for T bar rows. You can also do it with your elbows out as shown in the video.

4. Return to the starting position and do subsequent reps in a controlled way.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Make sure to keep your back flat and do this exercise with proper form and technique. You should engage your lats as you pull the bar up.

4. Dead Row

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The dead row is another great compound exercise that you can do instead of an incline dumbbell row. A dead row is a combination of a deadlift and a row. This exercise will work the entire back muscle. So if you haven’t done this before, then you should try it.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, abs, and lower back

How to do

1. Stand under the bar with both feet at about shoulder-width apart. Go down by moving your hips back and keeping your chest up.

2. Grab a bar at about shoulder-width apart. Look straight while keeping your back flat. This will be your starting position.

3. Lift the bar by pushing your feet to the ground. Bring it towards the knee level.

4. From the knee level, start pulling the bar towards the abdomen. Squeeze your lats as you pull.

5. Bring the bar back to the knee level and then descend. Return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps– 8-10

You can go heavy on this but make sure that your lower back doesn’t arch. You should not feel too much stress on the lower back during this exercise.

5. Dumbbell Floor Row

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If you don’t have a bench and wondering how to do a one-arm row, then try this floor version. This exercise will not only target the lats and rhomboids but will also improve your balance.

So if you are at home or even in the gym and looking for some new way to perform one-arm row, then you must try this exercise. This will be a great alternative to the incline dumbbell row and is similar to the traditional one-arm row. You can also do a regular one arm row as an alternative.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, biceps, abs, and glutes

How to do

1. keep one knee on the floor and the other leg straight to the side. Place one hand on the floor. Hold the dumbbell from the other hand. Keep your back straight and this will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by moving the dumbbells up while keeping your elbows in. Keep your abs engaged and maintain your balance as you move.

3. Stop at the top when the dumbbell is close to your wai. Your elbow should be at about 90° angle at the top.

4. Slowly return to the starting position. Then switch to the other side and then repeat.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Make sure to engage your abs throughout the movement. Also, keep your back arch and maintain balance as you perform the movement.

You can also do a one-arm row while holding on to a table or rack. It’s not necessary to have a bench for this exercise. You just need to keep your back straight and should be able to perform rows while maintaining the right posture.

6. Standing Dumbbell Rows

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This is another best exercise to train your back. This exercise targets not only the lats but also your traps, rhomboids, and core muscles which stabilizes the body during heavy compound movement. So if you don’t have an incline bench, just hold a dumbbell and start doing rows on your feet.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, traps, and teres major

How to do

1. Hold two dumbbells and stand with both feet at hip-width apart. Bend down by taking your hips back and spine upright. Don’t round your lower back and keep your chest up.

2. Roll your shoulders back and pull the dumbbells up. Your elbows should be tucked in while going up. Don’t bend your neck or back during the movement.

3. Pause when dumbbells are at the side of your stomach. Then return to the starting position steadily.

Recommended reps- 8-12

This exercise can also be done at home. You just need a pair of dumbbells and you can do it anywhere you want.

7. Seated Cable Row

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This exercise is one of the popular exercises you can see in the gym. You can find people doing this exercise a lot in the gym. It is one of the easiest and most effective alternatives to incline dumbbell row.

From beginners to most advanced level bodybuilders, everyone does this exercise and you can easily replace incline dumbbell rows with this exercise.

Targeted muscles – lats, rhomboids, teres major, lower and mid traps.

How to do

1. Hold the handles of the machine and sit straight with your legs on the front platform with a slight bend in your knees. Your hands should be straight. This will be your starting position.

2. With your shoulders back and chest up, start pulling the weights towards your mid-abdomen area. Your elbows should be in as you move and keep your back straight.

3. Stop when your hands touch the abdomen and then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Pro tips

  • Always start the exercise by retracting your shoulders ( shoulders back) and squeezing the lats. This will make your form and posture perfect. Also, it will engage your back more.
  • Fully stretch your back at the very end so that your muscles are fully stretched. You should hit the muscle with the full range of motion instead of just partial reps.

8. Standing One-Arm Cable Row

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This is a perfect isolation exercise for your lats. You can use this as an alternative to the incline dumbbell rows because it mimics the same movement. You will be in the same incline position and can focus on each side separately.

Targeted muscles – lats, teres major, and rhomboids

How to do

1. Attach a cable down at the bottom and hold it with one arm.

2. Bend your back slightly forward. Pull the weights from one hand and place the other hand on your thighs for balance.

3. Make sure that your elbows are in line with your lower back while you pull towards your waist.

4. Pause for a second and then return back slowly.

Recommended reps- 12-15

The positioning of a body and movement makes it more athletic. Your core will involve a lot to stabilize the body which makes it more functional. So all you athletes should try this!

9. V-bar Pulldown

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This exercise is for your thickness and is one of the popular old-school exercises. It’s a very effective cable exercise for the back. You can do this by placing a bench in front of the cable machine. So if you are in the gym and an incline bench is not free, you can do a V bar pulldown instead of an incline dumbbell row.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids and teres major

How to do

1. Place a bench in front of the cable machine and attach a pulley to the upper part of the cable machine. Sit down on the bench while holding a v-bar.

2. Slowly bring your shoulder blades down and back while keeping your chest up. This will be your starting position

3. Start the exercise by pulling the v-bar bring it just above your chest. Keep your elbows in and down.

4. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Pull your shoulders back and down before starting the exercise. Touch your chest and then go back slow. Don’t lift your butt off the seat!

Your spine should be neutral and don’t bend your lower back while pulling. You can go heavy on this but make sure that your form doesn’t break.

10. Resistance Band Row

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This is an easy exercise you can do at home without any need for heavy equipment. You just need a resistance band to perform this movement. So if you are looking at an easier alternative to an incline bench dumbbell row which you can also do at home, then this is one of them.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, traps

How to do

1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight to the front. Then take a resistance band and roll it with your feet as shown in the video.

2. Hold both ends of the band and sit with your back straight. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the resistance band towards the body. Your elbow should be in as you move your arms.

4. Stop at the end and squeeze your lats harder. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 12-15

You can make this exercise challenging by using a high resisting band. There are different types of resistance bands available with different intensity levels. You can select those according to your strength.

11. Towel Row

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This exercise is good for people who want to work out at home. The difficulty level of this exercise is low so the beginner can also try this. So if you don’t have an incline bench to perform rows, then do this exercise.

Targeted muscles- lats and rhomboids

How to do

1. Take a long towel and roll it up around a pillar. Hold it with your hands and take your steps back.

2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your hands straight. Your shoulder should be back and chest forward. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start reaching forward by flexing your elbows and squeezing your back as you move. Your elbow should be in as you move forward.

4. Pause at the top and then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended reps- 12-15

You should do this exercise slowly to get the most out of it. Always remember to breathe out when you are pulling the weights and breathe in when your back is elongated.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to incline dumbbell row. Most of these exercises are compound movements that will engage your core a lot. You should do these exercises with the proper form and technique to avoid injuries and to get better results.

Also, make sure that you design your workout program by selecting and combining exercises that hit all parts of the muscles. You can do that by making sure that you do exercises where your grip is wider like pull ups and lat pulldowns, and also exercises where your grip is narrow and your elbows are close to your body like one arm row or seated cable row.

It is always helpful and recommended to seek a fitness or health professional before starting any exercise or workout.

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