You only need five moves, two dumbbells and 20 minutes to strengthen your shoulders and improve your posture

Try this trainer's quick circuit workout to build strength and muscle in your back, shoulders and arms

A woman performing a shoulder press
(Image credit: Getty / AzmanL)

We all have our favorite moves or body parts to train but it’s important to take a balanced approach in strength training. Focusing on one area or undertraining another can lead to muscle imbalances and increase your risk of injury. 

If you need to balance out a leg day with some upper body work, then this circuit from Rachael Sacerdoti could be for you. It works muscles in your shoulders, back and arms—and it only takes 20 minutes to do. 

How to do Rachael Sacerdoti's five-move upper-body dumbbell workout

Three rounds of: 

  • Alternating bent-over rows x10 each side
  • Arnold press x10
  • Single dumbbell front raise x10
  • Rear delt row x10 each side
  • Alternating single-arm upright row x10 each side
  • Rest for 30 seconds

Perform the five moves as a back-to-back circuit, resting for 30 seconds after you've completed all of the exercises. Repeat this sequence for three total rounds to finish the workout. 

Watch Sacerdoti's video above for a demonstration of each move. You may need to adjust the dumbbell weight for each exercise. Remember, you should be able to complete the ten repetitions (reps) for each move, but the last few reps should feel challenging.

Benefits of this workout

Improved shoulder strength: "This workout targets various parts of the shoulder, including the front, side, and rear deltoids [the three heads of the deltoid muscles, which are the main muscles in the shoulders]. By targeting different areas in the shoulder with these exercises, you promote balanced and well-rounded shoulder development, reducing the risk of muscle imbalances and potential injuries," says Sacerdoti. 

Enhanced posture: "Strengthening the upper back and shoulders contributes to better posture. The exercises in this workout can combat round shoulders and forward head posture."

Versatility and efficiency:  "This workout is for any fitness level. Start by using light weights then, as your strength improves, challenge your muscles by using heavier weights or increasing the number of repetitions. It also doesn’t take long to complete, allowing you to target the shoulders and upper back quickly."

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.