You only need five moves and a set of dumbbells to boost your upper body strength

If you’re looking for a quick, effective workout to challenge those upper-body muscles, look no further

Woman holding dumbbells up and overhead
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve found a great workout that is bound to get your muscles burning, and all you need to take part is a set of dumbbells—or adjustable dumbbells if you’d like to change the weight for each exercise. 

Fitness trainer Rachael Sacerdoti is the brains behind this simple five-move routine, which you can find below. Pay attention to her demonstrations and make sure you copy her form, to avoid potential injury.

Watch Rachael Sacerdoti’s upper-body workout

This is a nice, short workout—but don’t confuse its brevity for a lack of intensity. 

The workout should be performed as a circuit, so you’ll do 10 repetitions of each exercise (both sides) and rest for 30 seconds only after you’ve completed all five moves. Then, you go again until you’ve completed three total circuits, which should seriously challenge your arm muscles. 

Before you start, it's important to decide what dumbbell weight to choose. You want one that’s going to challenge you throughout, so that you work your muscles hard, but not so heavy that you struggle to maintain proper form or find yourself unable to complete the workout.

Strength training tips

Strength training like this aids your everyday activities, making things like lifting groceries or heavy boxes easier. A strong upper body will also help to improve your posture by stabilizing your shoulders.

As you repeat this workout and get stronger, you can increase the weight of your dumbbells in line with the progressive overload technique. This is a technique that involves increasing your workout resistance over several weeks. You can increase the resistance with a heavier weight, more reps, or less rest in between circuits.

Want another routine to balance out this session? Try doing this five-move lower-body dumbbell workout during the week, or save this resistance band leg workout for another time.

Need help picking your next weight? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbell can help

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 


Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.