Build muscle in the arms, back and core with just seven dumbbell exercises

You don't need the gym to develop strength, just this quick workout

Woman doing a renegade row exercise with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most effective ways to build upper-body strength is by doing dumbbell exercises. 

These simple training tools allow you to execute a number of muscle-building moves, like bicep curls, weighted squats and shoulder presses. They are also useful for addressing muscle imbalances, as you can use the weights to isolate and strengthen weaker areas of the body—something you can't do with equipment like barbells or gym machines.

This workout from personal trainer Berenice Salazar is made up of seven dumbbell exercises that will help you target your arms, shoulders and core. It's great for beginners, as well as people more experienced with strength training, as you can increase the weights you're lifting to make the workout more difficult.

Watch Berenice Salazar's upper-body workout

The routine is broken down into two supersets. A superset is made up of two or more exercises that you perform back-to-back, with no rest in between. It's a very time-efficient way to train and it will also challenge your muscular endurance (your muscles' ability to perform for longer periods of time). 

Complete the first three exercises (listed above) with no rest in between if you can, aiming for ten repetitions of each exercise. Then, take a short break and repeat that circuit four times. After you've done that, complete the second superset three times. 

If you're struggling to get through these exercises without rest, lower the weights you're lifting. Or take a longer rest in between each exercise, but make sure that you still complete the full ten repetitions.

It's also important to make sure the weights you're lifting are manageable to avoid injury. 

Try to mirror Salazar's form in the video, keep your core engaged and avoid arching your back. And if you need guidance on how heavy your weights should be, read through our piece on what dumbbell weight to choose

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.