The dumbbell row is one of the oldest and most effective ways to build muscle in your upper back. But the bent-over row ladder takes the old staple to an entirely new level.
With this routine, you can target your entire back, your hamstrings, and your glutes, says trainer B.J. Gaddour. As you climb the ladder, the time your muscles are under tension continues to increase, which is key to building a bigger, stronger back, he explains.
Here’s how to do it: grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips, and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length.
Without moving your torso, row the weights upward by raising your upper arms, bending your elbows, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pause, lower the dumbbells, and stand back up.
Repeat, but do two rows this time. Continue to add one rep every set until you do 10 reps in a row. That’s a total of 55 reps for the entire ladder.
If you think you can handle a little more heat, try descending the ladder, working your way from 10 reps down to one rep.