Strengthen your arms and back, and improve your posture with this five-move dumbbell workout

Build stronger arms, work your core, and develop functional muscle with this short upper-body routine

Man working out with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might think that home workouts are limited to cardio sessions and yoga, but you can build strength from home and you don't need lots of equipment to get started.

In fact, a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells can help you get stronger all over, and they're particularly great for upper-body workouts that involve isolating specific muscles in the arms and the back as you can quickly change the load. 

There's no need to over-complicate your upper-body routines either. With this routine from personal trainer Elise Young, all you need is five moves to build muscle in your arms, chest, shoulders, and back.

The aim is to do 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, so you'll want to find a weight that feels challenging but won't affect your form. If you're easily able to reach 12 reps, your weight is probably too low.

Be sure to think about your form when attempting these exercises, in order to avoid injury and ensure they target the intended muscles. You can practice your technique with Young's demonstrations before you get started. 

Watch Elise Young's five-move upper-body workout

You can use this routine as a full upper-body day, aiming for three or four rounds of each exercise. Make sure to engage your core by tucking your ribs in and avoid arching your back. This will strengthen the muscles around the stomach as well as the arms and back.

Your core is a section of mid-body muscle that includes your rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle. It plays a vital role in your balance and stability, which are essential when you're lifting weights. 

It's a good idea to repeat strength workouts like this one on a regular basis, increasing the weight every so often, when the reps start to feel easier. Doing so will help you grow specific muscles in the upper-body, including the shoulders, pecs and the lats.

If you're not used to strength training, you're likely to experience DOMS (delayed-onset-muscle-soreness) following a workout like this one. Make sure to stretch after you finish the session to prevent or reduce this.

Make sure you fuel yourself properly if you want to build strength, incorporating more protein than usual into your diet. The best protein powders for weight loss will help you hit your nutrition targets and boost your recovery.

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.