25 minutes, a set of dumbbells, and a full upper body workout to build muscle

Burn fat, improve strength, and build muscle all over with this short upper body routine

Man working out his triceps with some dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty)

There are various different muscles located in the upper body, hence why you will hear people mention having days at the gym solely dedicated to their chest and shoulders, or triceps and biceps and other upper body variations. However, not everyone has time to factor in workout splits or you may be new to strength training and need a workout that fits it all into one short session.

This25-minute resistance training routine targets the shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, and back muscles. To safely target all of your different upper body muscles, you will want to have access to some lighter and heavier weights. Some of the best adjustable dumbbells are a good option; working out with a pair of these means you can modify the weight you want to lift with via a dial or a lever.

Kaleigh Cohen (opens in new tab), the NASM Certified Personal Trainer who leads this workout uses three dumbbells of the following weights: 11lbs/5kg, 16lbs/7.5kg, and 22lbs/10kg. But when it comes to selecting your own weights pick loads that will challenge your muscles without tainting your form. 

Cohen says that this 25-minute strength session is designed to, "Help you increase your muscular strength and definition. It also allows us to work on each muscle group more than once to really build!".

Watch Kaleigh Cohen's 25-Minute Upper Body Workout

Although this workout is designed to build muscle this doesn't mean you will get large or bulky from training with weights. Especially not with this being a high-intensity resistance training routine, which is very similar to a typical HIIT workout for fat loss, but it includes the addition of weight. 

Cohen says, "Strength training with a heavy weight will not cause your muscles to be big and bulky, it will give you a lean and defined look! This cannot be done by doing cardio only, strength training is a big deal in a well-rounded fitness regimen!".

You will be training your muscles in short and intense bursts of active periods followed by minimal rest periods to trigger muscle-building results from just 25 minutes of physical activity.

In order for your muscles to continue growing in strength and size, you will want to implement progressive overload into your resistance training. Progressive overload in strength training involves increasing the challenge of your workouts, either by increasing the load or the number of repetitions that you train with over time.

You might find you make strength gains really fast and feel eager to graduate onto some heavier weight. If so, you should consider picking up a barbell and learning new moves like how to deadlift properly. Or if you want to isolate a particular part of your upper body in your next strength session give this shoulder dumbbell workout a go.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.