Build bigger arms in just eight moves with this weighted upper body workout

Strengthen your shoulders, chest, and arms with this short resistance training routine

Man doing a push up
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Strengthening your shoulders, chest, and arms can sometimes be repetitive. Single-muscle isolation moves like bicep curls are effective in building muscle, but there are more varied ways to train, too, like this eight-move upper body workout.

You don't need much equipment to get started; a set of the best resistance bands, a pull-up bar, a pair of dumbbells, and a barbell. You can find most of this in the free weights area of the gym, or you can modify the routine to train at home with a set of the best adjustable dumbbells.

It's a comprehensive upper body session developed by personal trainer Alice Liveing (opens in new tab). Rather than focusing on a single muscle, there's a range of moves designed to simultaneously work several areas of your upper body.

This makes the routine a time-efficient way to hit your fitness goals, but it also promotes the growth of functional muscle that can support your upper body during strength-focused workouts and throughout the day.

It's essential to focus on your form to get the best results from your training. If you're new to these exercises or after a refresher, Liveing demonstrates each move to help you get the technique right and avoid injury.

Watch Alice Liveing's eight-move upper body workout

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There are eight moves in total, including two mobility-focused warm-ups and a high-intensity cardio finisher. If you want to give the routine a try or add a few of the exercises into your regular program, everything you need is listed below.

The mobility exercises are designed to get your shoulders, chest, and arms warmed up and improve your range of motion. Resistance band face pulls are also some of the top exercises to improve posture and increase mobility.

Meanwhile, swimmers help mimic the shoulder motion of swimming while lying on the floor. If you've not tried these before, check out this swimmers tutorial (opens in new tab) from the fitness experts at Human 2.0 on YouTube.

  • Resistance band face pulls
  • Swimmers
  • Weighted pull-ups (4 reps, two sets)
  • Alternating dumbbell row (8 reps, three sets on each side)
  • Push-ups (10 reps, three sets)
  • Lat raises (10 reps, three sets)
  • Landmine rotations (8 reps, three sets on each side) 
  • Rowing intervals 5x 150m sprints ⁣

Liveing closes the round with five 150m sprints on a rowing machine. This high-intensity finisher raises your heart rate, works your upper body and core (a section of mid-body muscle including your rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle), and boosts your metabolism. 

If you don't have access to a rowing machine or would prefer an alternative, consider adding a round from a HIIT workout for fat loss for similar results. Each five-move round lasts five minutes and also raises your heart rate for fat-burning results. 

Or you could pick up one of the best kettlebells and learn how to do kettlebell swings. This high-intensity strength training move builds muscle in your upper body, develops core strength, and improves your metabolism for all-day energy burn. 

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.