Respectable dumbbell row weight

What’s A Respectable Dumbbell Row Weight? The Average Standards At Different Training Levels And Bodyweights

The dumbbell row is one of the best exercises you can do for a wider and thicker back. But how much weight should you be lifting on the dumbbell row for it to be considered respectable?

On average, a respectable dumbbell row weight is above 176-lbs. This weight is for two dumbbells combined and for a single repetition. However, an individual’s dumbbell row will be affected by bodyweight and training level. Therefore standards vary greatly between people

When I first started doing the dumbbell row, I wanted to know how I was performing compared to others.

If you’re in a similar position, then this article will give you some benchmarks for comparison.

I’ll also share some tips on how I increased my own dumbbell row numbers.

Hopefully, they will help you to improve your own rowing numbers!

Let’s jump straight in.

Important Disclaimer:

There are multiple variations of the dumbbell row including; one-arm row, two-handed bent-over row, seated row, and upright row. This article is based on the two-handed bent-over row. The weight standards for the other row variations will be different from those stated in this post.

How To: Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
Technique for the two-handed bent-over dumbbell row.

Looking to Improve Your Dumbbell Row At Home?

If you’re interested, here’s the setup I use and recommend!

Respectable Dumbbell Row Weights For The Average Man

Here’s how much the average man should be able to dumbbell row:

Training Level1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
Beginner74lb
34kg
62lb
28kg
61lb
28kg
59lb
27kg
58lb
26kg
54lb
24kg
Intermediate176lb
80kg
148lb
67kg
144lb
65kg
141lb
64kg
137lb
62kg
128lb
58kg
Advanced246lb
112kg
207lb
94kg
202lb
91kg
197lb
89kg
192lb
87kg
180lb
81kg
Dumbbell row standards for a 200lb male at different training levels. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

These weights have also been converted into Kg for guys in the UK.

They are based on Strength Level’s database of 121 dumbbell rows.

Since the average US male weighs 200-lbs, that’s the bodyweight I chose to represent the male average dumbbell row standards.

3 factors influence what weight is deemed “respectable”.

The exact weight you should be able to dumbbell row is largely influenced by 3 factors:

  1. Training level. People who’ve been lifting for many years will naturally be able to row heavier weights compared to beginners who have just started.
  1. Rep number. The lower the rep number, the heavier the weight you can row.
  1. Body weight. Heavier people naturally have more muscle mass compared to lighter people and can therefore row heavier dumbbells.

I’ve already explained how the first 2 factors influence your rowing weight.

Next, I’ll explain how body weight affects how much you can dumbbell row.

Beginners: Respectable Dumbbell Row Weight

Here are the average dumbbell row standards for a male beginner at different body weights:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
24lb
11kg
20lb
9kg
20lb
9kg
19lb
9kg
19lb
8kg
18lb
8kg
150lb
68kg
42lb
19kg
35lb
16kg
34lb
16kg
34lb
15kg
33lb
15kg
31lb
14kg
200lb
91kg
74lb
34kg
62lb
28kg
61lb
28kg
59lb
27kg
58lb
26kg
54lb
24kg
250lb
113kg
106lb
48kg
89lb
40kg
87lb
39kg
85lb
38kg
83lb
37kg
77lb
35kg
300lb
136kg
134lb
61kg
113lb
51kg
110lb
50kg
107lb
49kg
105lb
47kg
98lb
44kg
Male beginner dumbbell row standards. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

As a beginner, you should be able to dumbbell row 15-45% of your body weight (depending on body weight and reps).

If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell row for under 1 month, and you’ve reached these standards, then that’s a respectable weight.

Good job!

If you’re below average, then check out my tips (next) to find out how you can improve your dumbbell row.

Intermediates: Respectable Dumbbell Row Weight

Here are the average dumbbell row standards for a male intermediate at different body weights:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
92lb
42kg
77lb
35kg
75lb
34kg
74lb
33kg
72lb
33kg
67lb
30kg
150lb
68kg
126lb
57kg
106lb
48kg
103lb
47kg
101lb
46kg
98lb
45kg
92lb
42kg
200lb
91kg
176lb
80kg
148lb
67kg
144lb
65kg
141lb
64kg
137lb
62kg
128lb
58kg
250lb
113kg
222lb
101kg
186lb
85kg
182lb
83kg
178lb
81kg
173lb
79kg
162lb
73kg
300lb
136kg
264lb
120kg
222lb
101kg
216lb
98kg
211lb
96kg
206lb
93kg
193lb
87kg
Male intermediate dumbbell row standards. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

As an intermediate, you should be able to dumbbell row 56-89% of your body weight.

If you’ve been doing the dumbbell row for under 2 years, and you’ve reached these standards, then that’s a respectable weight.

Awesome job!

If you’re below average, then try the tips below to improve your dumbbell row as an intermediate.

Advanced Lifters: Respectable Dumbbell Row Weight

Here are the average dumbbell row standards for a male beginner at different body weights:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
142lb
64kg
119lb
54kg
116lb
53kg
114lb
52kg
111lb
50kg
104lb
47kg
150lb
68kg
184lb
83kg
155lb
70kg
151lb
68kg
147lb
67kg
144lb
65kg
134lb
61kg
200lb
91kg
246lb
112kg
207lb
94kg
202lb
91kg
197lb
89kg
192lb
87kg
180lb
81kg
250lb
113kg
300lb
136kg
252lb
114kg
246lb
112kg
240lb
109kg
234lb
106kg
219lb
99kg
300lb
136kg
348lb
158kg
292lb
133kg
285lb
129kg
278lb
126kg
271lb
123kg
254lb
115kg
Male advanced dumbbell row standards. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

As an advanced lifter, you should be able to dumbbell row 85-123% of your body weight.

If you’ve been training for 5 years or more, and you can do this, then that’s a very respectable weight.

Most people will never reach this stage.

But if you’re below average after 5 years, don’t fret.

This kind of level requires consistent training and overload for many years (something not many people can do).

Look on the positive side instead, and appreciate how much you’ve developed as a beginner, and keep slowly working towards your goal!

If you’re interested in upgrading your dumbbells, then you can see how much dumbbells should cost in my other post!

How Good Is Your Dumbbell Row Weight Vs Others?

Another way to determine if your dumbbell row is respectable is by comparing it to how much others can lift.

Here are the percentages of males who can dumbbell row their body weight:

Dumbbell Row 1 RM As A Fraction Of Bodyweight% Of People Who Can Do It
0.10x100%
0.20x99%
0.30x97%
0.40x94%
0.50x88%
0.60x79%
0.70x70%
0.80x59%
0.90x48%
1.00x38%
1.10x29%
1.20x22%
1.30x16%
1.40x11%
1.50x8%
1.60x5%
1.70x3%
1.80x2%
1.90x1%
2.00x0.99
Percent of males aged 24-39 at 200lbs bodyweight who can dumbbell row their body weight. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.
  • 75% of men can dumbbell row 0.65x their body weight. If you’ve reached this point, then you’re in the lower quartile of dumbbell rowers. This is a respectable weight for beginners, but you can also probably do better!
  • 50% of men can dumbbell row 0.88x their body weight. If you’ve reached this point, then you’re in the median quartile of dumbbell rowers. This is very respectable target for beginners to aim for.
  • 25% of men can dumbbell row 1.15x their body weight. If you’ve reached this point, then you’re in the upper quartile of dumbbell rowers! This is a very respectable target for intermediates to aim for.

Here’s how you can workout your dumbbell bench press asa fraction of your bodyweight:

Divide the weight of both dumbbells by your bodyweight.

Now see which percentile you belong to!

If your current dumbbells aren’t giving you the poundages to continue progressing, you might be interested in these 9 heaviest adjustable dumbbells on the market!

Reasons Why Your Dumbbell Row Is Below Average

Why beginners struggle to row heavy loads.

There are different reasons your dumbbell row may be below average as a beginner.

Common issues include:

  • Weak grip in the early stages of training. If you’re new to weight training, chances are your grip strength is underdeveloped. This means you may find it difficult to hold the dumbbells, let alone row them!
  • Underdeveloped stabilisers. The row mainly targets the lats, traps, rhomboids, and posterior delts. The biceps also contribute a lot to your rowing strength. Furthermore, stabilising activity also comes from the lower back, core, shoulders, and legs. As a beginner, one or more of these muscles may be acting as a choke point in your prgression.
  • Incorrect form and technique. The dumbbell row requires good form and technique to shift heavy loads. This includes things like keeping your back straight, leaning forward from the hips, maintaining a slight bend at the knees, and actively squeezing the scapulae rather than pulling the dumbbells with your arms. If these things aren’t done correctly, your dumbbell rowing strength will be compromised.
  • One or more naive muscles. The dumbbell row is a big compound movement which engages many muscle groups. One or more of these muscles may simply need more time to develop and contribute to your row!

Why intermediates struggle to dumbbell row heavier weights.

As an intermediate, you probably know what you’re doing at least somewhat.

Heck, you’ve gotten this far right?

But hitting strength plateaus is a common issue for intermediates and elite lifters alike.

This simply means your dumbbell row isn’t improving no matter how hard you push.

It can occur when one or more of your back and arm muscles cease making strength gains.

The most common reason this happens is if you work in the same rep range for too long.

After a certain period of time, you’re muscles become accustomed to the stimulus, stop adapting, and stop growing.

Ways To Improve Your Dumbbell Row

Methods to increase your dumbbell rowing weight will differ depending on your training level.

Increasing your dumbbell row as a beginner.

How beginners can increase their dumbbell row weight.

Here are some tips to increase your dumbbell row gains:

  • Eat a proper bulking diet. A good nutrition plan will fuel the muscle growth process. I recommend at least 1g of protein per pound of body weight and a 5-15% caloric surplus every day. Combine this with progressive overload to ensure you’re getting stronger and bigger every week.
  • Row slow for maximal muscle recruitment. Forget about lifting heavy for now. As a beginner, it’s extremely important to concentrate on perfecting your form. Lift slow by counting 2 seconds up and 3 seconds down. There shouldn’t be any jarring or swinging movements in your row. Check out Youtube tutorials for a free resource.
  • Progressive overload whenever you’re ready. Increase each dumbbell by 5-lbs whenever you’re able to perform the dumbbell row with good form. A beginner should aim to overload once every 1-2 weeks.
  • Be patient! Adding an extra 10-lbs to your dumbbell row can take 1-2 weeks of consistent training. During this time, aim for 2 back workouts per week with at least a day rest in between workouts.

If you’re a skinny guy trying to build a stronger physique, there are some essential tips you should know to avoid failure and getting demotivated. Check out my other article to learn how to build your first 10 pounds of muscle!

Top tip: skinny guys under 12% body fat can use a weight gainer powder like the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass (link for the reviews) to bulk up fast.

For everyone else, the MyProtein Impact Whey is great for building lean muscle with minimal fat. Protein powders are an affordable way to reach your protein/calorie targets if you struggle to eat enough food.

The MyVegan Pea Protein is a good alternative for vegans.

I also like to add a scoop of MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate. It’s a natural compound that facilitates energy production and helps your muscles generate maximum power during the dumbbell row.

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or…

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Increasing your dumbbell row as an intermediate.

How intermediates can increase their dumbbell row weight.

Tips to help you break strength plateaus include:

  • Changing your rep range. Work in the strength rep range (2-6 reps per set) for 1 month and then switch to a hypertrophy rep range (7-10 reps per set) for another month. Once you can row a certain weight for 2-6 reps, begin slowly increasing the reps every week until you can do 10 reps. This requires a pair of heavy dumbbells with small weight increments of 5-lbs.
  • Increase weekly workouts. Instead of cramming all your weekly back sets into 1 training day, try spreading the sets over 2 or 3 days. This is also known as equating training volume. The increased training frequency means your muscles are also recievieing a growth stimulus more frequently.
  • Time under tension rowing. For 1 week every month, decrease the weight on your row by 10-20%. Make up for the decreased weight by slowing the downward/upward phases to 4 seconds each. Really feel your back and arm muscles contract as they row the dumbbell. This introduces an entirely different kind of growth stimulus to drive hypertrophy.

Important note: I would recommend trying only one method at a time to prevent overtraining.

Top tip: I’ve tried all 3 methods and they work great to break plateaus. But for them to work, you should ideally have a pair of dumbbells that are durable, heavy, and have small 5-lb increments.

If you’re interested, then the Powerblock Elites with the stage 2 (70lb) and stage 3 (90lb) add-on kits are the most affordable dumbbells that fit these 3 criteria.

If you’re looking for a cheap alternative, then the Yes4All spinlock dumbbells are also very heavy. Just be aware that the weight increments are also larger.

How do the bodybuilders improve their dumbbell row?

The most obvious way to reach the advanced levels of dumbbell rowing is through consistent progressive overload and rep range variations over many years (both methods described previously).

But bodybuilders also use other creative ways to break through plateaus.

One way is to use body momentum.

How To Do Dumbbell Rows: Build a Thicker Back With Proper "Cheating"
Find out how bodybuilders “cheat” on their form to improve their dumbbell row.

When most people reach failure on a row, it’s usually because the top part is so hard, that you could’ve probably squeezed out another 10 or so reps in the bottom half. This might mean your lats haven’t actually fatigued. They’re just unable to complete the full range of motion because of the steep resistance profile. Using body momentum is a potential solution to this problem.

Jeff Nippard, Bodybuilder

This is known as “cheating”.

And whilst it’s usually frowned upon, it could be beneficial to increase your dumbbell row weight.

It basically involves extending your hips slightly to generate upward momentum, thereby helping you row a heavy dumbbell all the way up.

Another way to increase your dumbbell row is to perform accessory exercises:

  • Reverse fly- to strengthen the back muscles involved in the upward phase of the dumbbell row.
  • Dumbbell row with your chest on an incline bench- rowing with your chest flat against an incline will isolate the upper back muscles like the trapezius and rhomboids. This will contribute to upper back definition and overall rowing strength
  • Bicep curls- to strengthen the biceps which are responsible for generating upper body pulling power, such as that in the row.
  • Pull-ups and chin-ups- these are two great exercises for developing overall upper body pulling power and building a wide back.

Top tip: an incline weight bench and pull-up station are affordable ways to do the incline row and pull-up at home.

I use the Flybird weight bench (link for cheapest price) and Sports Royal pull-up tower.

Although neither have the same build quality of commercial gym equipment, both are affordable, space-effective, and versatile enough to be used to train the entire body too.

What training level are you?

What does training level mean?
  • Beginners: have been performing the dumbbel row for up to a month. If you’re a beginer, then chances are you’re still learning the correct form required to perform this exercises safely. This means you’re rowing weight is curently limited.
  • Intermediates: have been regularly doing the dumbbell row for up to 2 years. If you’re an intermediate, you represent the average gym-goer. You’ve been doing the dumbbell row for a substantial amount of time and know how to row heavy with good form.
  • Advanced lifters: have been regularly doing the dumbbell row for up to 5 years. If you’re an advanced lifter, you represent the the elite minority in the average gym. You may even be a casual bodybuilder/powerlifter. You may not be competing, but you’ve been doing the exercise long enough to have mastered the technique required to row extremely heavy loads.

Therefore, how long you’ve been practicing the dumbbell row determines how much you should be able to lift.

A respectable weight for an advanced lifter is going to be heavier than a respectable weight for a beginner.

What is 1RM & 6-10RM?

How reps affect strength and hypertrophy in the dumbbell row.

RM stands for “repetition max”.

Therefore 1RM is short for 1 rep max and 6-10RM is short for 6-10 rep max.

1RM refers to the amount of weight you can row for a single rep.

It’s an indicator for maximum rowing strength.

In contrast, 6-10RM refers to the amount of weight you can row for 6-10 reps.

This is known as the hypertrophy range (i.e. the rep-range best for building muscle).

Since most people are performing the dumbbell row to build a bigger and stronger back, these are the weights I shall be comparing in this article.

Generally speaking, doing 1-6 reps allows you to row heavier weights and emphasize strength.

In contrast, doing 7-10 reps means you’ll row lighter weights but emphasize hypertrophy.

It’s also important to note that strength and hypertrophy are closely related.

In other words, building strength will often lead to hypertrophy and vice versa.

You can learn more about rep ranges here in my other post.

How Were These Standards Calculated?

Here’s how I got the numbers for this study.

Average dumbbell row standards.

Dumbbell row respectable weight standards.

Dumbbell row 1RMs were taken from the Strength Level database.

These were then multiplied by different fractions to get the 6-10RM weights, as follows:

  • x0.84 for 6RM.
  • x0.82 for 7RM.
  • x0.80 for 8RM.
  • x0.78 for 9RM.
  • x0.73 for 10RM.

% of people who can dumbbell row a fraction of their body weight

Percent of people who can dumbbell row their body weight.

The Strength Level database also allows for different dumbbell row weights to be sampled against their total population.

I sampled a variety of dumbbell row weights for a 200-lb male beginner aged 24-39

Recommended Products Recap

Conclusion

A respectable dumbbell row weight varies depending on your training level, body weight, and rep number.

I’ve shared share with you the averages for different people based on these metrics.

These were calculated from the Strength level database of rows.

If you’re dumbbell rowing above average, then you’re doing a great job.

But if you’re doing below-average, then you can try my tips to improve your numbers!

How much weight do you currently dumbbell row?

Let me know in the comments!

Or check out my other articles to find out how much weight you should be dumbbell bench pressing, dumbbell overhead pressing, or bicep curling.

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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