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10 Dumbbell Upper Body Exercises You Can Do At Home

  • By Kate Moore
  • on 
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You don’t need big weights or a lot of equipment to work out at home. With just one set of dumbbells, you can do a variety of exercises in your living room without having to take a trip to the gym.

These workouts are perfect for the stay-at-home mom, busy dad, or everyday office worker that wants to get fit without leaving the house.

A well-rounded workout includes exercises to strengthen and tone the upper body. Maintaining upper body strength allows you to perform daily tasks with ease and to minimize muscle loss associated with aging. Not to mention the toned appearance, health benefits, and strong posture that comes along with weight training. 

Upper Body Dumbbell Exercises

upper body dumbbell row exercise you can do at home

1. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

This one is perfect for beginners and advanced athletes. Sitting hunched over at your computer all day really takes its toll on a body, and bent over rows are the perfect way to counteract this immobility. The muscles in the middle of the upper back are strengthened, helping to improve your posture significantly. To perform a bent-over row:

  1. Stand straight and tall, holding a pair of manageable dumbbells at your sides, palms facing inward.
  2. Bend over at the waist, keeping your core tight and your arms hanging down toward the floor.
  3. Lift your arms as you bring elbows in toward your sides, squeezing the muscles around your shoulder blades. Hold at the top for a few seconds, then release weights back down toward the floor. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

To make the workout tougher, try doing dumbbell bent-over rows while maintaining a pushup position.

2. Arnold Press

You might not look exactly like Arnold after these exercises, but you will tone up quite nicely after performing this comprehensive workout at home with your dumbells. It addresses all the muscles of the arms and shoulders. To perform the Arnold press:

  1. Hold two dumbells in a curled position against your chest, palms facing inward and elbows close to the body.
  2. Press the dumbells up and over your head, rotating your wrists so that when your arms are extended fully, your palms are facing out.
  3. Reverse your position and lower dumbells to your chest once more, rotating the palms back in so that they are once more facing your chest. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10 reps for beautiful, toned arms and shoulders.

Make it harder by performing this exercise while sitting on a fitness ball

dumbbell arnold press

3. Dumbbell Bench Press

The bench press is a classic exercise that has been used for years in strength training. It addresses the pecs, triceps, and shoulders much like a push up does, so if push-ups are not your favorite, consider this efficient alternative. To perform a bench press:

  1. Lie down with your back flat on a bench or on the floor, dumbbells in hand. Raise your dumbbells above your chest, arms extended and palms facing away from you.
  2. Lower dumbbells toward your chest until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, then extend upward again.
  3. Repeat 2-4 sets of 10 reps for strength and toning benefits.

4. Dumbbell Pullover

It may look like a simple move, but the pullover needs to be done correctly in order to avoid injury. It targets the muscles of the triceps, lats, and pecs, and it doubles as a feel-good stretch for the upper body. Delicious! To perform a pullover:

  1. Lie down on a bench or on the floor with your dumbbells. You might want to use a single dumbbell for more control.
  2. Bring dumbbell straight over your face, extending arms fully as you grip the dumbbell with both hands.
  3. Keeping a tight hold on the weight, lower your straightened arms back behind you, keeping elbows as straight as possible. Bring the weight back up to starting position.
  4. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10 to 15 weights, or until you experience muscle fatigue.

5. Rear Deltoid Fly

We may not be looking at the muscles of our upper back, but someone most certainly is! This back-blasting, upper body exercise helps to tone and tighten the muscles around the shoulder blades, giving you a beautiful back over time. To perform the rear deltoid fly:

  1. Stand tall or sit down on a chair or bench, dumbbells hanging at your sides.
  2. Hinge forward till your chest is parallel to the ground; hang dumbbells toward the floor. If you are sitting, your middle will be resting on your thighs.
  3. Lift your arms as if you were flying with wings, squeezing the muscles around your shoulder blades. Return arms back down so they are hanging toward the floor.
  4. Take care not to swing arms upward and downward, as you could cause yourself an injury. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps for a beautiful back.

dumbbell rear deltoid fly workout

6. Dumbbell Standing Bicep Curl

Beautiful biceps are a sight to behold; they also add stability to the shoulders and forearms. The trick to performing a perfect bicep is to stand tall and keep shoulders stable while performing the curl. To perform a perfect dumbbell exercise that targets your biceps:

  1. Stand tall with your shoulders back, dumbbells at your sides. Make sure that your palms are facing away from your body.
  2. Curl the weights up toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your body. Slowly lower back down.
  3. Repeat till you experience muscle fatigue, or you have performed at least 2 sets of curls with various weights.

7. Skull Crusher

This one may look a little intimidating at first, but it is well worth the effort. Targeting the shoulders, biceps, and triceps, it will tone and tighten the look of your whole arm, helping you to get ready for summer. To perform crushers:

  1. Start by holding one weight at your chest in front of your body. Raise it above your head, then lower behind you.
  2. Bring the weight back up overhead to an extended position, then end in front of your chest once more. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

8. Tricep Extension

An effective half-skull crusher, the tricep extension helps you to avoid “jiggly arm” that many of us experience as we age. No more wobbly waves when you perform the tricep extension:

  1. Start with either a single weight in both hands, or one weight in each hand. You may sit or stand for this exercise. Bring weight(s) up overhead and lower slowly behind you, then back up to a fully extended position.
  2. Keep a straight spine and avoid hitting the back of your head by making conscious moves, not swinging or jerking the weights to their intended positions.
  3. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions for killer, defined arms.

9. Dumbbell Chest Fly

This exercise is similar to others on this list, but it differs in the small muscles that are targeted with each repetition. This one addresses the arm, the front of the shoulder, and the pecs, perfecting the look of your upper body. To perform a chest fly:

  1. Lie down on a flat surface or on the floor, dumbells extended up over your face. Palms should be facing each other.
  2. Lower the dumbbells out to your sides, keeping a bend in your elbows so that your arms form a wide arc. Avoid touching the floor, as the pressure on your wrists may cause injuries.
  3. Bring weights back up to the first position, arms straight overhead and your palms facing each other. Perform at least 2 sets of 10 reps for beautiful, strong, sculpted arms.

dumbbell chest fly

10. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Be careful with this one; you’ll want to start with light weights and progressively work up to heavier ones as you maintain proper form and gain strength. Your shoulders will thank you! To perform a lateral raise:

  1. Start by standing tall, a light set of dumbbells in your hands. Arms should be in front of you, and palms should be facing your thighs.
  2. Raise straight arms with dumbbells extended straight out, then back down. Perform a second rep with arms straight out to sides, fully extended. Lower the arms.
  3. Perform 2 sets of 8-10 reps with light weights at first, working your way up to heavier weights as you gain strength.

Benefits Of A Strong Upper Body

Sculpting a strong upper body is essential to good overall health and fitness. There are so many benefits you can get from working out the biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Good for your heart

Protect your heart with some bicep curls. Strength training with weights can improve your cardiovascular health, and it improves the look and feel of your upper body. If you haven’t lifted weights before, start slow and light, and gradually work your way up to resistance that really nets results.

Improved posture

A strong and healthy back is essential for developing good posture. Weight training the muscles of the upper back helps you to stand up straight and tall, helping your spine stay in alignment.

Reduced risk of injury

The muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders, and back act as a suit of armor against pain. Using proper form when performing upper body exercises is protection against injury.

Enhanced workouts

When you strengthen your upper body, it makes exercising other parts of your body easier. Your upper body will boost all other workouts; swimming, for instance, is enhanced when your upper body muscles help propel you through the pool more efficiently.

Stronger bones

Never underestimate the power of some good strength training. Aging can lead to bone loss and weakness, so resistance training is a preventative measure against bone loss. Pick up those weights, and see what benefits you can reap with a few hammer curls.

A strong upper body feels good!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of reaching new fitness goals and achieving new levels of strength. Strengthening the body is strengthening the mind; your pathway will fuel you to bigger and better things in health and in life.

Ready to craft some sculpted pecs and rock hard biceps? Here are some efficient moves and a wonderful upper body workout that can improve your health…..body, mind, and soul.