I tried this six-move upper-body dumbbell routine, and it really helped strengthen my arms

If you want to build upper-body strength from home, give this workout a go

Fitness writer Alice Porter doing a dumbbell shoulder rotation exercise in gym
(Image credit: Alice Porter)

Dumbbell workouts are a great way to build strength, particularly when it comes to the upper-body. I strength train on a regular basis, but my arms and core are relatively weak areas for me, so I decided to try a simple workout that would help me develop muscle.

I did this workout in the gym and used 5kg dumbbells for the core exercises and 7.5kg dumbbells for the moves focused on building arm strength. If you're trying it from home, pick up a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells, so you can change up the weight depending on how difficult you find each exercise.

The routine, created by personal trainer Sara Kathryns, is made up of six moves designed to target the biceps, triceps and abdominal muscles. Most of the exercises are suitable for beginners, although some of the core moves are worth trying without a dumbbell first if you're new to strength training.

If you're not sure which dumbbell weight to use, you'll want to use a weight that makes each set a challenge but doesn't affect your form. This will make your muscles work hard but ensures that you don't injure yourself. 

Watch Sara Kathryns' upper-body dumbbell workout

Kathryns recommends completing four rounds of this workout, with one minute of rest in between each round. You'll need to complete six different moves back-to-back during each round, which is quite a challenge. I found that my muscles started to burn very quickly and it really put my upper-body strength to the test.

For the standing exercises, I made sure to think about my posture, squeezing my glutes and tucking my ribcage in to engage my core, and rolling my shoulders back and down while keeping my chest forward.

Fitness writer Alice Porter doing dumbbell halo exercise in gym

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

It's important to focus on your posture during upper-body workouts like this one, as it helps to prevent injuries and strain on the lower-back. Making sure you warm-up before your workout plays a role here, as it encourages blood flow to your muscles. 

My muscles were achy after completing this workout and I'm sure that I'll experience DOMs (delayed-onset muscle soreness) tomorrow. To try and help my body recover, I did some post-workout stretching exercises .

If, like me, your goal is to build muscle, it's also important to support your training with good nutrition. Make sure you're eating enough protein to build muscle, especially after your workouts.

Although you can get what you need from your diet, the best protein powders for weight loss are a great way to top up, and they're low in sugar and fat. Plus, you can blend them into a hydrating post-workout smoothie

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.