Seven moves to build functional strength and improve your posture

Make everyday tasks like carrying groceries and walking easier with this short muscle-building routine

A woman exercising at home with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty / LaylaBird)

Variety is essential if you want to make your workouts as effective as possible and keep the routines varied and fun. So, whether you want to strengthen your core or boost your metabolism, it's important to target other body areas too. 

Thankfully, you can mix things up with this low-impact upper body session. You only need 25 minutes and two dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells) to take it for a spin, and there are plenty of perks awaiting anyone who completes it. 

"There are so many benefits to this workout, not least increased strength and improved posture by strengthening the back muscles," explains fitness trainer Rachael Sacerdoti, the creator of this routine. 

"Working the back and upper body muscles can also improve your ability to perform daily functional movements such as lifting, pushing and pulling. Strengthening them  helps to stabilise the spine too, reducing the risk of injury, particularly in the shoulders, neck, and lower back."

There are seven exercises in this routine, all demonstrated by Sacerdoti if you want to practice your technique. Perform them as a circuit for 10-12 repetitions each, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat the sequence until you've completed three rounds. 

Watch Rachael Sacerdoti's upper-body workout

If you're new to this type of training, that's no problem, says Sacerdoti. And if you give it a try and want to increase the intensity, there are options for you as well. 

"As a beginner, I recommend you start with two to three sets of 10-12 repetitions for each exercise. This will allow you to stimulate muscle growth and build strength while gradually getting used to the movement. 

"As you progress, add more volume by increasing the number of sets and reps, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself with heavier weights."

This is an example of progressive overload, which is another way of saying that you need to continually challenge your muscles to trigger adaptations like increases in strength. 

Sacerdoti also recommends giving your upper-body muscles at least 24 hours of respite from strength training after this routine (after all, the positive adaptations from strength workouts actually happen while you're recovering). 

If you want to exercise the next day, why not try working another muscle group with a core or leg workout? Or, if you want something a little easier on your body, consider using these anti-aging yoga moves to stretch and soothe your muscles. 

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.