Build bigger arms, shoulders, and more with this 10-minute home workout

This popular workout from an expert PT takes just 10 minutes and two dumbbells to build upper-body muscle

Woman doing a dumbbell workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to build bigger muscles in your upper body? Whether you just fancy looking and feeling strong, or you need to build your strength up for certain sports, developing your upper-body muscle is for everyone, not just for gym rats. It improves your heart health, raises your metabolism to help burn fat, and fights against the physical effects of aging. 

However, if you don't feel as though you have the time to fit muscle-building workouts into your already packed schedule, we've got some good news: you can do it quickly and easily thanks to this 10-minute home workout. All you need is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to get started.

The workout, from expert PT Caroline Girvan, follows the same principle as Tabata, a form of HIIT training in which participants are given 40 seconds to exercise and 20 seconds to rest. None of the moves are repeated, but there are exercises to work your biceps and triceps, your pectorals (the muscles in your chest), all the major muscle groups in your back and your deltoids, or shoulder muscles. 

In addition, holding some of these positions will improve your core strength, and you'll also boost your grip by grasping onto your dumbbells throughout the set. Check out the workout in full, including a list of moves and timings, below: 

Watch Girvan's 10-minute dumbbell workout here:

The moves

All the below moves are to be performed for 40 seconds, with 20 seconds rest in between:

  • Dumbbell bent-over row (palms facing inwards)
  • Dumbbell supine row (palms facing behind you)
  • Dumbbell shoulder press to "in"
  • 45-degree lateral raise
  • Dumbbell bicep curl, alternating arms
  • Dumbbell floor press
  • Dumbbells flys
  • Single dumbbell pullover 
  • Alternating dumbbell rear fly
  • Single arm dumbbell row

Woman doing a dumbbells workout

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Girvan says: "This is a 10-minute upper body dumbbell workout, and it's all about the tempo today. I picked an 8kg weight, so a bit lighter than I would normally lift, but you can make whatever dumbbells you've got at home, even water bottles, work that little bit harder. Tempo is key.

"Squeeze as hard as you can at the top [of the lift] and slow release back down." 

Girvan has you lowering the weight slowly, under control, which contracts the muscle during this "eccentric" phase of the lift. Research says this drastically increases muscle development.

As an alternative to dumbbells, all of these moves can be done with resistance bands, which are a cheaper, more portable option when compared to free weights. The constant tension from the elastic also helps provide tension during that slow, controlled lowering we discussed above. Our best resistance band and best workouts with resistance bands guides can help get you started here.  

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.