The Complete Upper-Body Dumbbell Workout
No gym? No sweat! With just a bench and some dumbbells you can combine these 7 moves for a fierce upper-body workout that can be done just about anywhere!
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press
Because you don’t have a bar in your hands, you can draw your elbows all the way back outside your ears. That places more emphasis on the middle delts, the one delt head that makes you appear wider. In contrast, with a barbell your elbows have to travel forward so the bar clears your face, calling upon more front delts than middle delts.
Do it Right: Adjust the bench so your back is fully supported and upright, and grasp a dumbbell in each hand above shoulder level with a pronated grip (palms facing forward). Strongly press the weights overhead in an arc, but don’t let them touch at the top. Lower under control back to the start.
Power Pointer: Don’t stop the downward motion when your arms form 90-degree angles; instead, bring the dumbbells all the way down until your elbows point toward the floor and the weights are just above shoulder level. It’s safe for your shoulders, and you recruit more muscle fibers when using this greater range of motion.
The range of motion here is only a few inches. The up-and-down movement should be fluid and controlled, not explosive. Because you’re using dumbbells, the neutral (palms-in) grip helps keep your arms and shoulders in the most comfortable and safest position possible.
Do it Right: Stand erect holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with your palms facing in. Keeping your chest up and abs tight, shrug your shoulders straight up toward the ceiling, squeezing your traps at the top. Slowly reverse the motion, letting the weights lower your shoulders as far as possible.
Power Pointer: Avoid rolling your shoulders — it doesn’t engage the upper traps more successfully and can actually cause severe strain of the delicate rotator-cuff muscles. Keep the motion strictly up and down.