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The Best Dumbbell Exercises For Your Upper Body

Are you looking for the best dumbbell exercises for your upper body? Here are some of the best upper body dumbbell exercises you can easily do at home.

Benefits Of Using Dumbbells

Using dumbbells can provide superior benefits over other equipment. Here are the top 3 benefits of using dumbbells.

Wide Variety of Movements- Due to a broader range of motion, trainees can accomplish more movements with dumbbells

Higher Neuromuscular Activation- Because dumbbells are held in one arm, a higher degree of stabilization is needed, meaning more muscle activation

Smaller Weight Range- Dumbbells can start as low as 0.5lbs. This makes them very practical for new trainees as they can start with very lightweight to strengthen their muscles.

The Top Dumbbell Exercises For Your Upper Body

Below are the best exercises you need to build bigger and stronger muscles in your chest, back, shoulders, and arms.

1) Dumbbell Chest Press

The dumbbell chest press is going to be your main horizontal pressing movement. It’s going to train your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

How To Perform The Dumbbell Chest Press

  1. Sit on a bench and bring the dumbbells to your knees.

  2. Hold the dumbbells to your body as you lay down

  3. Lay down with your butt and upper back on a bench and feet in the ground

  4. Push the dumbbells up and bring them towards the center at the top

  5. Be sure to keep your elbows out to the side as you push

2) One-Arm Dumbbell Row

The one-arm dumbbell row is going to be your primary pulling exercise. It’s going to hit your entire back, rear deltoids, and biceps.

How To Perform The One-Arm Dumbbell Row

  1. Choose a dumbbell and get a bench

  2. Place one knee on the bench and one hand

  3. The other leg should be placed to support your body

  4. Keep your back slightly arched with shoulders level and pulled back

  5. Pull your elbow back and up into the sky. Your arm should rub against your body

3) Dumbbell Shoulder Press

While the dumbbell chest press and row also hit the shoulders, the dumbbell shoulder focuses on strengthening these muscles. Further, the shoulder press requires you to have good shoulder mobility.

How To Perform The Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  1. You can perform these sitting or standing

  2. Choose a pair of dumbbells and bring them up. At the start, you can let them rest on your shoulders

  3. Tighten your core and your butt

  4. Bring the dumbbells out so that your forearm is vertical

  5. Push the dumbbells up and in at the top

  6. Let the dumbbells come down while keeping your elbows out to the side. They can go slightly forward if needed

  7. Come down until your upper arms break parallel. There’s no need to bring your elbows down all the way.

4) Renegade Rows

Renegade rows are a fantastic exercise that consists of combing pushups and a single arm row. The trick is that you do the pushups while holding a dumbbell and come up directly into a one-arm row. Because you will basically be on a one-arm plank during the row, it’s also an intense anti-rotational core exercise.

How To Perform Renegade Rows

  1. While holding the dumbbells, get into a pushup position

  2. The dumbbells will be parallel with each other giving you a neutral grip

  3. Come down into a pushup and push up

  4. When you reach the top, use one arm to perform a row. This will put you in a single-arm plank position.

  5. As you perform the row, keep your shoulders level. You can widen your feet to add stability if needed

5) Front To Lateral Shoulder Raise

Front to lateral raise will focus on strengthening your shoulder in multiple planes and hit your traps and upper back. Make sure to use light weights to start with as it’s going to burn. In a good way.

How To Perform Front To Lateral Shoulder Raise

  1. Stand with a natural stance and knees slightly bent

  2. With a prone grip (palms down) raise the dumbbells out in front of you with straight arms

  3. Come down slow and then immediately bring the dumbbells out to your side

  4. Keep a slight bend in the elbow when raising out to the side

  5. Keep the elbows higher than the dumbbells

6) Dumbell Curls

Don’t forget about the biceps…however, these also serve another purpose. Having some form of elbow flexion isolation exercises is a good idea as it’sit will strengthen the tendons and ligaments of the joint prone to get inflamed.

How To Perform Dumbbell Curls

  1. Stand with a natural stance and knees slightly bent

  2. Start by holding the dumbbells with a neutral grip down to your side (palms facing inward)

  3. Keeping the elbow close to the body and fixed, bring the dumbbell up

  4. As you come up, rotate the dumbbell out so that your palms are facing up at the top

  5. Do this in an alternating fashion with one arm at a time

7) Dumbbell Skullcrushers

Scary name but an effective isolation exercise. And, since you use dumbbells, there’s no real risk of crushing your skull. Dumbbell skull crushers are going to hit your tricep by only involving the extension of your elbow.

How To Perform Dumbbell Skullcrushers

  1. Lay on the ground or bench

  2. Start by holding the dumbbells straight up. You can angle the arms back a bit if you want

  3. Use a neutral grip (palms facing in) so that the dumbbells don’t hit your face.

  4. Keeping the elbows pointing straight up, bring the dumbbells down towards your head

  5. The dumbbells should be on either side of your head at the bottom

  6. Now extend your arms to bring the dumbbells back overhead.


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