This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
For upper back work, the dead row is the gold standard. Use your own body as a bench by working this exercise out of a near-squat position.
Stand upright with feet hip-width apart. Sit into your hips in a half-squat as you incline your shoulders forward to a 60 degree angle, keeping your back flat. Your shoulders should be over your knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended to hold the weights in front of your knee caps. You should have an overhand grip and hands shoulder-width apart.
- From the starting position, bend your elbows up and back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to lift the dumbbells up to the sides of your chest in a row. Be sure to pull your shoulder blades down and back for the row, keeping the muscle work out of upper traps—do not shrug your shoulders.
- Once you bring the weights to your chest, slowly lower them back to the starting position—but even once the dumbbells are in the low position, the shoulder blades must say retracted back and down.