Given today’s sedentary culture—where we spend much of our time seated at desks, hunched over smart phones, and behind steering wheels—it’s no wonder we have an epidemic of back pain. Back pain is often a result of tight hips and deactivated glutes. If we don’t address these areas first, we’re setting ourselves up for back pain, not only in the weight room but also through the activities of everyday life. Even bodyweight back exercises will dramatically improve the overall strength of your posterior chain and shoulders, setting you up for advanced back workouts, superset back workouts, and moving day at the same time.

So: Assuming you’ve addressed those issues, this workout will target the muscles you need for a broad, V-shaped back—and all you need are dumbbells and a bench.

How it works

This 30-minute dumbbell workout to build your back is designed as a circuit workout. We’ll do  four sets of 7 exercises, alternating between pushing and pulling movements, so we can produce maximum results with minimal time and equipment. Rest only briefly (about a minute or so) between circuits.

Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.