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Dumbbell Only Upper Body Workout


We think we speak for 95% of the population when we say, training your upper body at home is hard. So, if you’ve struggled during lockdown – you’re not alone.

There are only so many push up variations you can do to fill the void of upper body training in the gym. And there does comes a point where tins of beans or bottles of water just aren’t cutting it anymore to get a good shoulder and bicep pump.

So now gyms have reopened, where to start? Give this dumbbell only workout a go designed to hit your shoulders, chest, back and arms without needing much space or kit.

The workout is split into 3 supersets, which you do back to back for 40 seconds each with a 20 second recovery after each superset. Repeat each superset 3 times over with a 1-minute rest in between rounds.

1a. Push Press

  • Front load the dumbbells, resting the end of the dumbbells gently on your shoulder region
  • With a slight bend at the knees, generate power through your legs and drive the dumbbells up above your head
  • Focus on keeping the dumbbells above the midline for each rep to avoid hyperextending the spine
  • Keep the core engaged throughout

1b. Lateral Raises

  • Take one leg back to act as a stabiliser during the movement
  • Move the dumbbells from the midline laterally up in line with the shoulders and return back to your starting position
  • Keep the chest up and core engaged throughout

2a. Hammer curls

  • Take one leg back to act as a stabiliser during the movement
  • Grip the dumbbells with your palms facing into your body
  • Curl one of the dumbbells up to the shoulder and focus on squeezing the bicep as it contracts
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position, keeping the eccentric part of the movement controlled throughout
  • Remember to fully extend the bicep before switching sides

2b. Lying Tricep extension

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and grip the dumbbells with palms facing together
  • Position the dumbbells shoulder width apart, and extend them fully in line with the shoulders
  • Keeping control of the movement throughout, slowly bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells towards your ears
  • From here, use your triceps to drive back to the starting position

3a. Bent over row

  • Hinge at the hips with a slight bend in the knee whilst keeping the spine neutral throughout
  • Brace the abs and grip the dumbbells with palms facing inwards and shoulder width apart
  • With the dumbbells at the knees pull in towards the rib cage whilst squeezing the shoulder blades together and engaging the back muscles
  • To avoid too much involvement from your bicep in this movement, try to pull through your elbow and keep the arms nice and close to the body throughout

3b. Upright Row

  • Keep your shoulders pinned back and down throughout
  • With the palms facing towards your legs, pull the dumbbells level with collar bone
  • Keep the elbows aligned and keep the dumbbells close to the midline throughout the pull
  • Maintain tension with the core to keep a nice neutral spine position

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