This Upper-Body Workout All You Need to know

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If you want to work your arms, back, and chest at the gym (or at home!), look no further than this six-exercise upper-body workout that’ll get you in, out, and feeling strong in no time. This upper-body gym workout is structured in supersets, which means you’ll alternate between two exercises that work separate muscle groups. Because the first muscle group gets a break when you’re doing the second exercise, you can blast through this workout with minimal rest, which saves time and keeps your heart rate up.

You can do supersets in any workout, but today we’re focusing on your upper body. If you want to be able to do push-ups for days or carry shopping bags (and everything else) more easily, you’ll need to strengthen your upper body. This routine is a great place to start — and it’s more than just an “arm day” workout. In just six moves, this comprehensive upper-body workout targets your chest, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and back, and includes a little bit of sneaky how-to-increase-stamina-naturally-diet-and-fitness-tips too.

All you really need is a set of dumbbells, so you can do this upper-body workout at the gym or at home, as long as you have some weights. Ready? Check out the full workout below, and get ready to work.


Upper-Body Workout For Gym or Home

Equipment needed: You’ll need a set of medium-weight dumbbells. Beginners, try five to 10 pounds. Advanced exercisers, go with 10 or 15 pounds. You’ll also need a large-loop resistance band and a place to do pull-ups. (But don’t worry if you don’t have the latter two. We’ll offer an alternate exercise.)

Directions: Start with a warmup, such as this 10-minute-dynamic-full-body-warm-up-routine. This workout should be completed in supersets, taking little to no rest in between each exercise. For example, in superset one, you’ll do a set of dumbbell bench presses immediately followed by a set of band-assisted pull-ups. Take no more than 60 seconds of rest after you complete the superset, then repeat. Once you’re done with three sets of both exercises, you’ll move on to the next superset. As always, listen to your body and take rest and hydrate as needed.

Superset 1: Do 3 sets

  • Exercise 1: Dumbbell bench press: 15 reps
  • Exercise 2: Banded assisted pull-up: 8 reps

2 Superset : Do 3 sets

  • Exercise 1: Overhead shoulder press: 12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Single-arm row: 12 reps per arm

3 Superset : Do 3 sets

  • Exercise 1: Biceps curl: 12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Overhead triceps extension: 12

1Superset 1, Exercise 1: Dumbbell Bench Press

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

Dumbbell bench presses are a classic upper-body workout move that targets your chest and triceps. Using dumbbells instead of a barbell forces each arm to work on its own; this can clue you into any strength imbalances you might have across your body and makes sure one arm isn’t overcompensating for the other.

How to Do a Dumbbell Bench Press:

  • Sit on a flat workout bench (or on the floor), holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • With the dumbbells resting on your thighs, carefully lie back onto the bench or floor.
  • Hold the dumbbells just above your chest, shoulder-width apart, creating a 90-degree angle between your upper arm and forearm. Your palms should be facing toward your feet.
  • Exhale as you push the dumbbells up, fully extending your arms. The dumbbells should be directly over your chest. Hold for one second.
  • Inhale and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest with control. That’s one rep.
  • Do three sets of 15 reps, alternating with Exercise 2.

2Superset 1, Exercise 2: Banded Assisted Pull-Up

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

Pull-ups are one of the best exercises you can do to work the big muscles in your back. If you’re doing this upper-body workout in the gym, find a pull-up station or pull-up bar and a resistance band. If you’re at home and don’t have a pull-up bar, you can swap this move for best-biceps-exercises-for-greater-growth .

How to Do a Banded Assisted Pull-Up:

  • Place a large resistance band securely around a pull-up bar. A band with more resistance will provide you with more assistance/momentum to pull yourself up.
  • Stand on a stable object (a bench will work), and grip the pull-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you. With one hand, place the band around the arch of your shoe. Fully extend the banded leg.
  • With a neutral spine and your core engaged, pull yourself up. To do so, think about pulling your shoulder blades back and down, then drawing your elbows toward your ribs. The band will help provide you with momentum to lift your body up.
  • Slowly extend your arms to lower to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Do three sets of eight reps, alternating with Exercise 1.

Superset 3, Exercise 2: Overhead Triceps Extension

How to Do a Single-Arm Row:

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left knee and left hand on a bench. Your hand should be underneath your shoulder and your knee should be underneath your hip. Your spine and head should be in a neutral position.
  • Engage your core, relax your shoulders, and extend your right arm towards the floor. Do not rotate your torso or let your right shoulder lower towards the floor.
  • On an exhale, pull the dumbbell up with control, driving your elbow toward the ceiling. Do not rotate your torso.
  • On an inhale, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Do three sets of 12 reps on each arm, alternating with Exercise 1.

This upper-body workout move zeroes in on the triceps, the muscles on the back of your upper arm. Take care to focus on your core here; think about gently drawing the bottoms of your ribs and the tops of your hip bones toward each other. Hold that position with your core while doing this triceps move. If that’s difficult, try this move while sitting down.

How to Do an Overhead Triceps Extension:

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold one dumbbell with both hands, bending your elbows behind your head. This is your starting position.
  • Straighten your arms to lift the dumbbell into the air, squeezing your triceps at the top.
  • Slowly bend your arms to lower to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Do three sets of 12 reps, alternating with Exercise 1.
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