Since I am currently going to a pretty under-equipped gym that doesn’t have many machines and has no barbells at all (can you still even call that a gym?! I know, right?) so a lot of times I have to get through my workouts using dumbbells only. Also I know many people prefer working out at home, and apart from resistance bands, dumbbells are the easiest and most affordable equipment you can buy for home, so I thought writing up an upper body workout that uses dumbbells only could be interesting and beneficial for a lot of people. So this is what we are going to look at today!
But before we get into the details of the workout, there is one thing I would like to note. I will always recommend the number of sets and repetitions you should do (although that could change if you are specifically bulking or shredding), but I cannot give a specific weight you should use, as that will differ for each person based on their fitness level. So what I would suggest is to try to find a weight with which you can do the number of reps recommended, with a good form, but feeling it burn at the last few repetitions. It shouldn’t be easy, in the last set the last reps should be really challenging, but you must be able to always keep a good form.
One Arm Dumbbell Row – 3 x 10 / each side
This first exercise is going to work your back muscles. You will need one dumbbell – holding the dumbbell in one hand, lean forward and support yourself on something with your other hand, keeping your back straight. You can lean onto a bench or even your sofa or bed and can even put your knee on if for support. Let the dumbbell “hand down” first, then while contracting your back muscles, pull it up towards your hips. Hold it for two seconds then in a controlled motion release it back down.
Bent Over Rows with Dumbbells – 3 x 12
A great exercise we usually do with a barbell – but actually it is just as effective using dumbbells. You have to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and bend your knees a bit and your upper body forward. It is really important to have a steady stance and a straight back – so if you are unsure about this pose, practice it before attempting this exercise. Once you got the pose done, with a dumbbell in both hands you do a motion similar to the last exercise: pull the dumbbells up and back to your hips, contracting your back muscles. Hold it for two seconds, then slowly release them back down, completing one repetition.
Alternating Shoulder Raises – 4 x 12
This exercise combines front and lateral raises and has been one of my favourite moves for shoulders lately. Pick up a pair of dumbbells, then lift one of them to the front, one of them to the side. Hold it for a second or two, release them back down slowly, then raise them the other way to the side and front. That is one repetition. Make sure your elbows are bent a little bit, but your arms are fixed during the movement.
Alternating Biceps Curls with Hold – 3 sets
Biceps curls with dumbbells are probably the most basic biceps exercises – but we’re going to do it with a twist. Start out with holding up a dumbbell in one hand so that your arm in bent 90° and do 4 reps of biceps curls with the other arm. Once that is done, keep that arms in the same, bent position, holding up the dumbbell, and do 4 reps with the other arm. Repeat this once and that makes one set.
Wall Sit Isolating Biceps Curls – 3 x 12 / each arm
If the gym you go to is rather small and gets crowded easily – or if you just want to make a biceps move a bit more challenging, this will be the perfect exercise for you. We are going to do isolating biceps curls – combined with a wall sit, which I often do when there is no free bench at the gym. Put your back towards a wall and lower yourself down as if you were sitting on a chair, but this time your legs wide apart. Rest the back of your upper arm (not elbow!) against the inner side of your thigh (not knee!) and contracting your biceps, lift the dumbbell. As your upper arm is in a completely fixed position, this exercise is targeting the biceps exclusively giving you a great pump. Make sure to focus on contracting and feeling the muscle – never underestimate the boost a good mind-muscle connection can provide for your workout’s efficiency!
Triceps kickbacks – 4 x 12 reps
This is also a basic exercise, but if done properly it is very effective. Hold a dumbbell in both hands, step forward with one leg, bend your upper body forward, having your arms close to your body, bent, your elbows pointing to the back. Paying attention to contracting your triceps, extend your arm to the back – but make sure your arms only moves from the elbow, your upper arm should be fixed as if it was glued to your body, otherwise other muscles will help and training your triceps will not be that effective.
Single Arm Triceps Extensions – 3 x 10 / each arm
Last but not least another triceps exercise. This time you only need one dumbbell. You can do this exercise standing up or sitting as well: raise one arm so that it’s right next to your ear and bend it so that the dumbbell rests behind your head. Extend your arms, contracting your triceps, then slowly let it back down behind your head – that is one repetition.
And this is it for this workout – if you need more visual help, look for the workout video introducing all these moves on my channel on 15th November: http://www.youtube.com/c/DorkaKardos