Strengthen your core, arms, shoulders and back with these seven dumbbell moves

Improve your upper body strength with this dumbbell-only workout

Man doing renegade row exercise with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I'm a big fan of dumbbell exercises. You can do them at home or in a quiet corner of your local gym when all the machines are busy. Doing dumbbell exercises also allows you to isolate different areas of the body, which can help you discover and improve muscle imbalances.

This upper-body dumbbell workout from trainer Berenice Salazar features seven exercises that will help you build muscle in your core, arms and back. It's a circuit style session, which means you'll spend between 30 to 40 seconds on each exercise, performing them back-to-back before having a short rest after each round. 

Salazar recommends doing three to four rounds of the workout. Watch her video below and copy her form, to make sure you're targeting the right muscles. 

Watch Berenice Salazar's upper-body dumbbell workout

Wondering what dumbbell weight to use? Pick something that is challenging but manageable. You might need to drop weights between exercises, particularly on the last few exercises of the workout as they target smaller muscles. 

You can return to this routine on a regular basis and steadily increase the weight you use. This is known as the progressive overload method, and it will help you get stronger and gain muscle mass. 

Keeping your core engaged throughout the routine will help you stay stable and balanced. To do this, think about tucking your ribcage in and squeezing your glutes and abdominal muscles.

Make sure you're also incorporating lower-body dumbbell workouts into your weekly exercise regime. Full-body dumbbell workouts are also a great option if you're short on time, as they allow you to target a wide range of muscles in a short space of time. 

Need help choosing your next set of weights? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

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.