Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Unilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Biceps, Lats, Lower Back, Shoulders
Target Muscle Group

Upper Back

Upper Back Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Tripod Dumbbell Row Overview

The tripod dumbbell row is a variation of the dumbbell bent over row and an exercise one would typically use when trying to target the muscles of the back.

The tripod dumbbell row requires more core stability than other, more supported dumbbell row variations. The tripod dumbbell row also allows one to work the muscles of the back unilaterally, which can lead to a more symmetrical physique and balanced strength.

Tripod Dumbbell Row Instructions

  1. Assume a kneeling position on the bench with your ipsilateral (i.e. same side) hand braced against the bench.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand with a neutral grip.
  3. Begin the movement by driving the elbow behind the body while retracting the shoulder blade.
  4. Pull the dumbbell towards your body until the elbow is at (or just past) the midline and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.

Tripod Dumbbell Row Tips

  1. Experiment with head position and see which option (looking forward vs. packing the neck) works better for you.
  2. Keep some tone through your abdominals as you pull the bar into your body to ensure you don’t arch excessively through your spine.
  3. Don’t allow momentum to dictate the movement, control the dumbbells throughout the entirety of each rep.
  4. If you feel your biceps being overused and your back remaining under active, consider utilizing a false grip (i.e. don’t wrap the thumb around the dumbbell).
  5. Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
  6. Similarly, ensure the shoulder blade moves on the rib cage. Don’t lock the shoulder blade down and just move through the glenohumeral joint.
Nicholas dietz
Posted on: Wed, 10/04/2023 - 21:36

I'm not feeling it in my back but I'm feeling it alot in my bicep. Are you supposed to feel your upper back?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:44

Yes, you should feel it in the upper back. More often than not, you need to drop your shoulder at the bottom, then pull it up with your back muscles to begin the row. This can take the biceps out of it. Also, imagine you're driving your elbow into your hip. This cue can also help.

Posted on: Tue, 04/11/2023 - 19:12

On my left side i can only feel it in my tricep. A little in my back but not much. I’ve tried not lowering it that much and driving with my elbow but i can’t figure it out.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/16/2023 - 11:37

Try lifting the arm up while it is still straight at the start of the movement. Once you pull the weight up a few inches, then bend the elbow and drive it back. That slight pull with the straight arm at the beginning might help activate the lat on that side.

You can also try turning the dumbbell slightly so your palm is facing away. This could help minimize tricep involvement as well. Good luck!

Posted on: Wed, 04/05/2023 - 19:06

i dont feel these in my back. I tried adding weight but even at 70 pounds i just feel it in my arms and that's it. i switched position and tried to figure it out but i just don't feel it. why

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/16/2023 - 11:38

Do you have issues with any other rows, Alex? If so, let me know and maybe we can figure this out.

Posted on: Fri, 09/02/2022 - 01:24

Why i feel sore at my lower back when i do this exercise? Is my bench too low?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 09/02/2022 - 20:33

If your back is in a straight line and you don't have to bend over that low on the bench, then it isn't too low. You can wear a belt to provide support for your back. If you're still feeling soreness after doing it for a month, you may need to see a doctor.

Posted on: Wed, 02/23/2022 - 02:45

why I always feel my triceps when doing this?? someone plsss help me

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/23/2022 - 20:10

Hi, Yong. If you're letting the dumbbell down all the way, then it may be forcing you to flex your triceps unintentionally. If you're feeling them when you're going up, then you might be focusing too much on using your grip and hands. Drive with your elbow. Pretend you're elbowing someone behind you. Hope this helps!

Rovic Ilustre
Posted on: Wed, 08/18/2021 - 05:12

Hey Im doing this workout right now and I feel most of the movement on my lats. Should it be this way? I feel like my movement with the elbows is not correct.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 08:46

Hi, Rovic. You will feel it in the lats. If you want to focus more on the upper back, then let your elbow flare out slightly.

Adam Navarro
Posted on: Thu, 04/22/2021 - 00:46

Why is this called “tripod dumbbell row” if it work out your upper back?

Posted on: Thu, 06/17/2021 - 13:42

The position of your body resembles a tripod

Posted on: Wed, 03/31/2021 - 17:52

Should I be feeling some of the weight on my legs?
Nothing serious, just want to know if my form is right.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/01/2021 - 09:33

Hey Filipe - yes, you'll have tension in your legs

Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2020 - 14:44

The upper back diagram picture is not shoiwing for any of respective excersice profiles