Three moves for stronger, more muscular arms and shoulders

Build a strong upper body and reduce your risk of injury with Kelsey Wells’ dumbbell workout

Sweat app trainer Kelsey Wells performing a shoulder press as part of a dumbbell workout
(Image credit: Sweat App / Kelsey Wells)

A workout doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. In fact, the opposite is often true. 

Take this routine from Sweat app trainer Kelsey Wells. It’s designed to build strength and muscle in your arms and shoulders using just three dumbbell exercises.

Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing 12 repetitions of each one in turn, then repeat this sequence for three to five rounds in total (depending on your fitness level and the time you have available). 

Kelsey Wells’ three-move dumbbell workout

  • Shoulder press 3-5x12
  • Side to front raise 3-5x12
  • Biceps curl 3-5x12

This is an example of a high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) workout, combining muscle-building moves with short periods of rest. 

This format allows you to complete more work in less time, making it a great option for anyone trying to squeeze some extra movement into a busy day. The fast pace of this routine will also raise your heart rate, elevating your calorie burn and delivering some cardio perks. 

The exercises are intended to build strength and muscle in your shoulders, upper back and biceps too. Strengthening the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles will leave you less susceptible to pain and injury. It will also make everyday tasks like picking up groceries, lifting heavy objects or holding items overhead feel much easier. 

What dumbbell weight should I use?

Wells uses a pair of 10lb dumbbells for each exercise in this routine, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same. 

Instead, choose a set of dumbbells that are heavy enough to make it challenging to complete all 12 repetitions, but not so heavy that you’re forced to compromise your form. 

This might mean using different dumbbell weights for each exercise. For example, many people will be able to use a heavier weight for a multi-muscle compound exercise like the shoulder press than they will for more targeted moves like the side to front raise and biceps curls. 

The best adjustable dumbbells can be a great training tool if you’re looking to use multiple weights while training at home.  

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.