It Only Takes Two Dumbbells And Seven Moves To Build A Stronger Upper Body

Woman sits on weights bench in gym holding dumbbells on her knees
(Image credit: isayurtsever / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

There are many ways to improve your upper-body strength. You could use all manner of free weights, resistance bands, or even your own bodyweight. But for a straightforward upper-body workout that gets you in and out of the gym with a minimum of fuss, you can’t go wrong with a pair of dumbbells, a weight bench and this seven-move routine NASM-certified personal trainer Sierra Peterson posted to her TikTok account. 

This workout contains seven moves and you’ll perform four sets of 12-15 reps of each one. 

Peterson’s routine features tried-and-tested dumbbell exercises that are well worth mastering. Training your upper body not only helps to improve your overall strength, but it can help promote good posture and improve your co-ordination. A strong upper body is also useful when playing pretty much any sport.

Getting the technique right is essential both for getting the most from your training and for avoiding injury, so watch Peterson’s form in her demonstrations and if you need more guidance we’ve provided links to our exercise guides for each movement below.


♬ Jcole remix - Savhuff

If you have a pair of adjustable dumbbells at home (or have been browsing our selection of best dumbbells and are thinking of buying a set) this routine is a great option for training at home. Just substitute in the floor press for the incline press which requires a weights bench.

Peterson doesn’t provide a warm-up, but it’s always a good idea to prepare your body for the work it’s about to do. Begin with this gym warm-up, then do a few reps of each move in the workout with light weights. 

We’ve got plenty more routines for you to try once you’ve completed this session. This beginner upper-body workout will make you stronger and fitter, and this 20-minute upper-body workout also only uses dumbbells. Or, if you don’t have dumbbells or a gym membership, try this upper-body workout with no equipment.

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness writer

Lois Mackenzie is a fitness writer working on news, features, reviews and buying guides for Coach and sister site Fit&Well. Lois is a hill walker and avid runner who has just completed her first marathon. Before joining Coach, Lois worked as a senior SEO reporter at Newsquest Media Group.