You Only Need Dumbbells For This 20-Minute Upper-Body Workout

Man holding dumbbells by his shoulders
(Image credit: Getty Images / Inti St Clair)

We love the gym, and a weights bench, barbell and rack are all essential ingredients of many of the best upper-body workouts, but there have been times when we’ve decided to save our money and exercise at home instead. 

While there are plenty of home workouts that don’t require any equipment and will do a great job of keeping you fit, a pair of adjustable dumbbells – the sort featured in our selection of the best dumbbells – are well worth the money if you want to add muscle up top. Being able to switch between weight settings will let you tackle workouts like this 20-minute upper-body workout from NASM-certified personal trainer Jay Maryniak. Not only does it help you build strength and muscle, but the circuit format keeps the rest periods short to challenge your heart and lungs, meaning muscular endurance and cardio fitness gains await you. 

Who can resist? Line up your dumbbells and follow along with Maryniak’s video. 

Maryniak’s workout begins with warm-up exercises (always warm up, folks) and then rattles through seven exercises which target your chest, back, shoulders, arms and core. These are structured in a circuit, swapping between movement patterns that target alternating antagonistic pairs of muscles, so one half can rest while the other works (a bit like a condensed push/pull workout plan).

You perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds after the end of a circuit, then repeat for a total of three circuits. 

If you’re on the hunt for more home dumbbell workouts, Coach has you covered. This dumbbell chest workout is ideal for performing at home because you don’t need a weights bench; or to add more sweat to your strength session, try this dumbbell HIIT workout

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well (opens in new tab) and Live Science (opens in new tab). With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.