6 Staple Dumbbell Exercises for Sculpting Upper Body

You don't need to have tons of equipment to get a great upper body workout. This video takes you through 6 upper body sculpting exercises that should be staples in your routine. Although it can be fun to get fancy with your exercises, you can and should take time to truly master the basics shown here.

Focus on proper form, keeping each movement slow and controlled, and progressively adding more weight to the movement over time. That is the true recipe for muscle building success. 


The Exercises 

1. Bicep Curls

1) Stand up straight with arms hanging at your side and dumbbells in both hands, palms facing in.

2) Raise both arms at once, twisting your wrists on the way up to an underhand grip, palms facing forward. Keep your elbows still and your upper arms stationary.

3) Slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.

2. Tricep Kickbacks

1) Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand tall with your chest up and core braced. Bend at the hips while keeping your back completely flat.

2) Once your upper body is parallel with the floor, bring your upper arms to your sides. Begin by pushing the dumbbells back and behind you.

3) Pause at the top of the movement and feel the contraction in your triceps.

4) Slowly lower the dumbbells and begin again.

3. Dumbbell Rows

1) Bent at the waist so that your upper body is slightly above parallel to the floor. When performing this exercise, maintain a safe back by arching or keeping a neutral spine throughout the exercise.

2) Grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip and pull them to your stomach, retracting your shoulder blades and flexing the elbows.

3) Slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.

4. Floor Chest Press

1) Lie on the floor holding dumbbells at shoulder level with your elbows bent and palms facing forward.

2) Press the dumbbells straight up over your chest, arms straight, keeping your palms facing forward.

3) Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level, returning to the starting position.

4) Repeat the movement.

5. Lateral Raises

1) Stand with your back straight, feet shoulder width apart, while holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip. Hold your arms fully extended by your sides, with your palms facing in to your body. Keep your elbows close to your sides. This is the start position.

2) Keeping your arms fully extended and your torso stationary, lift the dumbbells out to your sides and up until they are at shoulder level.

3) Exhale as you do so. Hold for a count of one while squeezing your shoulder muscles.

4) Return to the starting position in a smooth controlled movement inhaling as you do so. Repeat.

6. Bent Over Lateral Raises

1) Begin by holding a pair of dumbbells and standing with a braced core. Bend at the knees slightly and lean forward from the hips. Maintain a flat back throughout.

2) Keeping your elbows slightly bent throughout the movement, lift the dumbbells up and out to the side. Be sure to focus the contraction in the back of the shoulders.

3) Pause at the top of the movement then slowly bring the dumbbells to the starting position.

4) Repeat the movement.

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