Build upper body muscle in just 10 minutes with this dumbbell workout

This no push-ups workout is a great way to build arm muscle when you're short on time

Woman trains her upper body with light dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty)

While most gyms are fully equipped with various machines designed to train the upper body, you can build strength and define your muscle at home with some light-medium weight dumbbells and it doesn't have to take long.

If you don't already own your own set of dumbbells, it's worthwhile getting yourself a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. This modifiable weight is a great space-saver for all home-gym setups and allows you to train with multiple sizes of weight via the push of a button or turn of a dial.

This dumbbell routine, created by yoga and fitness coach Fitbymik (opens in new tab), includes some of the best workouts for arms like the bicep curl but it is completed standing up so there will be no getting down on the floor for any planks or pushups. Instead, you will spend 10 minutes on your feet completing a variety of upper-body exercises. The aim is to perform each move for 45 seconds, have a 15-second rest, and then move on to the next exercise.

The workout has a HIIT style format (High-Intensity Interval Training) and isn't like a typical muscle-building workout where you move up weights after each set using progressive overload. Although you will be working with lighter weights - Fitbymik recommends using light to medium-sized dumbells - so it's a good idea to prioritize form over trying to fitting in as many reps as possible into the 45-second frame. Better form ensures you are targeting the right muscles and helps avoid injury.

Thankfully, Fitbymik demonstrates each exercise for you so you can watch how it's done.

Fitbymik's 10-minute upper body dumbbell workout

They've also added a few variations to the exercises to increase the time under tension and really help to challenge your muscles as you progress through the routine. For some of the exercises, you will perform one rep and then the second rep there will be a slight change of movement before repeating. We've listed the moves below.

  1. Bicep curls  
  2. Upright row/forward raise 
  3. Alternating tricep extensions 
  4. Hammer curl/single punch forward
  5. Overhead press/pulse back with elbows at the end 
  6. Single-arm wide fly 
  7. Overhead tricep extension 
  8. Bicep curls, pause halfway 
  9. Narrow overhead press 
  10. Lateral raise/v-raise forward

This workout is great for beginners or people who gravitate more towards low-impact workouts. It avoids jumping and the lighter weight will avoid putting too much pressure on your joints. Although heavier weight can be more advantageous for building bigger muscle and maximal strength, research (opens in new tab) has shown how high load training can increase your risk of injury. 

If you're also wondering, can you build muscle without weights? The answer is yes. Progressive overload can be applied to your typical body weight exercises by increasing the volume of reps, or you could add in one of the best resistance bands for some additional tension.

Another important factor that comes into play when building and maintaining muscle strength is nutrition. Consuming one of the best protein powders for women alongside high protein meals will help your muscle to recover and grow after exercise.

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.