Incline Dumbbell Row

The difficulty performing the incline dumbbell row exercise lies in maintaining proper shoulder plade action, as there’s a tendency to shrug your shoulders instead of pulling them back. Same is true for trunk and elbow position, as there’s a strong tendency to arch your back (which places extra stress on your spine) as well as allow the elbows to move out of position.

This exercise targets your upper middle back, shoulders, rotator cuff, biceps, neck and spine muscles.

Maintain position of your trunk, wrists and head during the exercise to facilitate muscle activation and joint protection. Further, pretend you’re holding a barbell in your hands so that the dumbbells stay parallel to the ground and facing the same direction.

If you’ve had a shoulder or neck injury, this is an advanced exercise that may not be appropriate until later in physical therapy.

Starting Position

Lie chest down on a bench with one knee on the bench and the other off with foot on the ground so as to protect your back. Set your shoulder blades in a neutral position and do not arch your back. Next, pull your belly inward away from your pant line. Set the dumbbells so they are parallel to the ground (i.e., wrists straight).


While maintaining trunk/head position, pull your elbows straight up until the contraction of your upper back muscles stops you, then lower to where the elbows are almost extended completely.

Repeat as directed by your physical therapist.

Schedule an Evaluation

We strongly recommend that you do not attempt to perform any of our exercises without formal training from our physical therapists so as to avoid potential injury. The exercises shown have specific purpose and yield benefits when performed in conjunction with a complete therapy program that is customized to each patient. The only way this can be initiated is through an initial evaluation.

Call c.h. Physical Therapy at

(503) 601-9000


Portland Physical Therapy

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