Develop strength in your chest and back in just 30 minutes with a set of dumbbells

Strengthen and tone your upper body with this short dumbbell routine

Woman lifting dumbbells while in a v-sit position
(Image credit: Getty)

You might think that the only way to build upper body muscle is by using gym machines specially designed for working this region of the body. Thankfully, this isn't the only way, as you can use this 30-minute dumbbell routine to develop upper body muscle and improve strength.

If you're training at home and want to work with more than one sized weight you should consider buying a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells. These modifiable weights fit multiple dumbbells in one so that you can change load mid-workout and they save on space.

Or if you plan on doing this workout during your next gym session then you'll want to head on over to the free weights section to access the dumbbells rack. These beginner strength training tips will help you establish what weight you should be working with.

Now you're ready to take on personal trainer Heather Robertson's (opens in new tab) 30-minute dumbbell upper body workout. "The routine includes upper body workout staples such as chest presses and dumbbell rows alongside some bodyweight moves like bent arm jacks and push-ups," says Roberston. It's never too late to learn how to do a push up properly.

To complete this session, you will perform each exercise for 40 seconds, take 20 seconds rest, and repeat each superset twice over. Watch Robertson's demonstrations so that you know how to practice proper form throughout the routine. This will help you to avoid injury and enhance your post-workout results.

Watch Heather Robertson's 30-Minute Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

This style of workout is known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), which is like your favorite (or least favorite for some) HIIT workout for fat loss but places an emphasis on resistance exercises to combine strength and cardio in your training.

The more consistent you are with this style of training the stronger you will start to feel. In order to prevent hitting a plateau you should learn about incorporating the progressive overload technique into your resistance workouts. This will challenge your muscles and encourage strength and muscle gains.

The resistance element of a HIRT workout doesn't have to be dumbbells. If you own one of the best kettlebells you can formulate your own session, using effective strength-building and fat-burning moves like kettlebell swings.

Or you could opt for something more friendly on the joints and use some of the best resistance bands or your own body weight. Likewise, these shoulder bodyweight exercises demonstrate how you can use your body as a force of resistance and they can be done pretty much anywhere.

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.