Strengthen your upper body in just five moves with this 20-minute dumbbell workout

Build stronger shoulders, work your upper body, and make carrying groceries easier with this short routine

Man doing dumbbell curls at home.
(Image credit: Getty)

Strengthening your shoulders is a great way to shake up your workout routine. This often-overlooked area plays a crucial role in your upper body, but can end up shrugged off in favor of ab or core workouts instead. 

But whether you’re carrying grocery bags, moving furniture, or plucking an item off the top shelf at the supermarket, your shoulders are involved, so it pays to have a strong and healthy set. 

Fortunately, you don't need loads of expensive equipment to achieve this. With just a couple of dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells, if you have them), you can develop more robust shoulders with this workout from Sweat app trainer Britany Williams

There are five upper body exercises, and the aim is to do up to 10 repetitions of each, resting for 30-60 seconds before taking on the next move. Repeat the five-move sequence three times for a 20-minute routine to strengthen your shoulders.

Watch Britany William’s five-move shoulder workout

Not only will this workout help you build shoulder muscle and strength, it will also lower your chance of injury by bolstering the stability of the joint.

Most moves in this routine won't just work your shoulders either. Inclusions like the Arnold press and military press are examples of compound exercises, which recruit multiple joints and muscles simultaneously. 

As a result, they will activate your shoulder muscles and target your triceps (the long muscles running down the back of your arm) in one fell swoop. This is part of the reason you can get such an effective session packed into just 20 minutes. 

But to really see the benefits, it's crucial to focus on your form. You can practice your technique using Williams' demonstrations before you start, which will help you get the most from your training and avoid injury. 

You'll need to pick the right dumbbell weight to make sure you're challenging your muscles without overtraining, however. If you're wondering "What dumbbell weights should I use?", our handy feature on the topic can help you make the right choice. 

If you're new to these upper body exercises, or you're returning to resistance training after a break, you'll likely feel sore around your shoulders, upper back, and chest the next day. 

This is known as delayed-onset muscles soreness (DOMS) and is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers. Your body uses protein to repair these tears, so it's worth using the best protein powders for weight loss to make sure you stay topped up. 

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.