Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

Dumbbell Upright Row

Dumbbells are excellent for working your upper body. Unlike resistance machines, dumbbells force you to use more muscles in order to balance the weights which gives you a more effective workout. The great thing about dumbbells is that you only need a couple of them along with an adjustable bench and you’re good to go. The following upper body dumbbell workout contains six exercises that you can use to strengthen and tone your chest, back and shoulders.

To avoid injuries and have an effective workout, make sure you select your dumbbells based on the criteria below:

  • For Muscle Size & Strength: Choose dumbbells that you can lift for between 4-8 reps.
  • For Muscle Endurance & Tone: Choose dumbbells that you can lift for between 12-16 reps.
  • For A Combination Of The Above: Choose dumbbells that you can lift for between 8-12 reps.

Exercise 1 – Dumbbell Fly

Equipment Required:

  • 2 dumbbells
  • 1 flat bench

Instructions:

The dumbbell fly is a weight training exercise that isolates a number of muscles in the upper body. You’ll need to draw energy from your biceps as well as shoulders and chest muscles when performing this exercise. To perform the dumbbell fly, follow the instructions below:

  1. Lie down on a flat bench with two dumbbells raised at arm’s length just over the lower part of your chest and your palms facing inwards. An easy way to get into this starting position is to pick both weights off the floor, sit down, place them on your knees and use your thighs to raise the dumbbells as you lie down. Then once the dumbbells are in position, you can place your feet flat on the floor.
  • Bend your elbows slightly, then lower your upper arms down to the side, stopping when they’re parallel with the floor and at chest height.
  • Squeeze your chest and lift your upper arms back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat steps 2-3 for your chosen number of reps, then sit up and place the dumbbells on the ground.
  • Rest for between 30 seconds and one minute.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 two more times then move onto the next exercise.

Exercise 2 – Dumbbell Straight Arm Pullover

Equipment Required:

  • 2 dumbbells
  • 1 flat bench

Instructions:

You can work your chest, shoulders, lats, and triceps all at the same time when performing a dumbbell straight arm pullover. This exercise is easy to perform since all you need is a flat bench and one dumbbell. The steps for this exercise are as follows:

  1. Grab the dumbbell with both hands, making sure that both your palms are touching the underside of the dumbbell and that your palms are facing forward. Then lie back on the flat bench, raise the dumbbell up above your chest while keeping your arms straight, bend your legs at a 45 degree angle and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Lower the dumbbell slowly in an arch behind your back. As you lower the dumbbell, keep your wrists straight, maintain a slight bend in your elbows and keep your core tight at all times. Stop just before the dumbbell touches the ground.
  • Lift the dumbbell back up above your chest, making sure that you keep your wrists straight, maintain a slight bend in your elbows and keep your core muscles tight.
  • Repeat steps 2-3 for your chosen number of reps, then sit up and place the dumbbell on the ground.
  • Rest for between 30 seconds and one minute.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 two more times then move onto the next exercise.

Exercise 3 – Dumbbell Upright Row

Equipment Required:

  • 2 dumbbells

Instructions:

The main target muscles that the dumbbell upright row works are your traps. Secondary or synergetic muscles in your shoulders and biceps will also be used to perform this exercise. To do the dumbbell upright row, simply follow the instructions below:

  1. With two dumbbells in each hand, stand upright with a slightly less than shoulder width overhand grip. In this position, the weights will be resting on your thighs at arm’s length. Your back should be straight, feet firmly planted into the ground and knuckles facing forward.
  • While keeping the weights close to your body, slowly bend your arms and lift the dumbbells until they are in-line with your cheeks. Make sure you use your elbows to drive the motion.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  • Repeat steps 2-3 for your chosen number of reps, then slowly place the dumbbells on the ground.
  • Rest for between 30 seconds and one minute.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 two more times then move onto the next exercise.

Exercise 4 – Dumbbell Bent Over Row

Equipment Required:

  • 2 dumbbells

Instructions:

While the dumbbell bent over row primarily targets muscles in your middle back, this compound exercise also provides a good workout for other upper body muscles like the deltoids, pectorals, lats, biceps, and triceps. You can perform this exercise by following these steps:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand, hold the dumbbells at your side and stand with your feet about a hip width apart.
  • Bend over at the waist, bend your knees slightly and let the dumbbells hang just in front of your feet. Make sure you keep your back straight as you hold this position.
  • Bend your arms and raise the dumbbells up to chest height.
  • Straighten your arms and lower the dumbbells back down so that they’re hanging just in front of your feet.
  • Repeat steps 3-4 for your chosen number of reps, then slowly place the dumbbell on the ground.
  • Rest for between 30 seconds and one minute.
  • Repeat steps 1-6 two more times then move onto the next exercise.

Exercise 5 – Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press

Equipment Required:

  • 2 dumbbells
  • 1 flat bench

Instructions:

The dumbbell seated shoulder press hits your anterior deltoids and triceps the hardest. It also works your deltoid muscles and rotator cuffs in the shoulders as well as trapezius muscle and lats in your upper back. To perform the dumbbell seated shoulder press properly, follow these steps:

  1. Grab the dumbbells, sit on the flat bench and place the two dumbbells on your thighs.
  • Lift the dumbbells off your thighs and bring them to shoulder level at each side, making sure that your palms are facing forwards and your wrists are straight.
  • Straighten your arms above your head and press the dumbbells up with your shoulder muscles, stopping just before they touch.
  • Bend your arms and lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder level.
  • Repeat steps 3-4 for your chosen number of reps, then slowly place the dumbbell on the ground.
  • Rest for between 30 seconds and one minute.
  • Repeat steps 1-6 two more times then move onto the next exercise.

Exercise 6 – Dumbbell Lateral Raise

You can build more muscle and tone up your rear deltoids while also working your traps by adding the dumbbell lateral raises to your upper body workouts. The following instructions outline how to do the dumbbell side raise correctly:

Equipment Required:

  • 2 dumbbells

Instructions:

  1. Pick up a pair of dumbbells and stand upright with your arms by your sides. In this starting position, your legs should be shoulder width apart, torso straight and palms facing your thighs.
  • While maintaining a straight back and without rocking your torso, lift the dumbbells out to the side and raise them up above shoulder level, stopping when they are parallel to the floor and making sure that you keep a slight bend in your elbows as you lift the dumbbells.
  • After feeling the shoulder blades pinching on your back, lower the weights back down to your sides.
  • Repeat steps 2-3 for your chosen number of reps, then slowly place the dumbbell on the ground.
  • Rest for between 30 seconds and one minute.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 two more times to complete the workout.

Summary

By performing this upper body workout once or twice per week, you can significantly increase the strength and size of your chest, back and shoulders. When completing this workout, always make sure that you don’t choose dumbbells that are too heavy and affect your form. If your form for each exercise isn’t perfect, select lighter dumbbells that allow you to complete your chosen number of repetitions with proper form. Not only will this help you avoid injuries but it will also allow you to get greater results from each workout.

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