When you think of a toned upper body, you might conjure up a vision of an intense group fitness class swinging kettlebells while the instructor yells to “push harder”.
However, what most of us actually want is more simple: an upper body workout routine we can do at home that’s efficient, effective and gives us results.
So what exactly can you accomplish without heading to the gym or hiring a trainer? Well, the below upper body workout at home uses a simple pair of dumbbells and your own body weight to help you strengthen and tone your arms, shoulders, chest and back – no gym required.
Let’s get started!
15-Minute Upper Body Workout
If you’re able, get yourself a pair of medium dumbbells (anywhere from 3-15 pound weights depending on your capability), but it isn’t necessary if you don’t have them. Just do the moves without weights or grab whatever objects you have lying around, like a couple heavy books or some canned goods.
Moving through this workout, you’ll get a great combination of strengthening the upper body muscles and increasing your heart rate with bodyweight moves that help burn calories and fat.
- Follow the number of reps listed for each strength move, then do each cardio move for one minute.
- Rest 20 seconds in between the moves.
Start your timer – and get ready for an effective workout in just 15 minutes!
Warm-Up: Inchworm – 4-5 reps
How to do inchworm:
- Stand tall and roll down until your hands reach the floor.
- Walk your hands forward until you’re one long line in a plank position.
- Take tiny steps walking your feet forward until they reach your hands.
- Walk hands out to plank again, and feet back to hands. Continue repeating this several times.
Push-Ups – 12 Reps (on knees to modify)
How to do push-ups:
- Begin in a plank position with hands below shoulders, legs long behind you, and body contracted to hold your spine in a straight line.
- With elbows pointing slightly back, bend elbows and slowly begin to lower your body until you are just above the ground. Keep your gaze over your fingertips and body in a straight line.
- As you exhale, tighten your belly and push yourself back up to a plank position. That is one repetition.
Lateral shuffle – 1 Minute
How to do lateral shuffle:
- Start standing with feet hip distance apart and sink into a deep knee bend. Bring both hands in front of the chest in guard position.
- Start with right foot moving right and left foot following. Shuffle right for four right-left steps, then move left for four left-right steps. Continue shuffling right left for the desired amount of time.
Overhead Pull – 12 reps
How to do overhead pull:
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Arms are extended above chest to start. Engage your abdominals.
- Lower dumbbells past your head keeping arms mostly straight with elbows slightly bent. Keeping abdominals tight raise dumbbells back to start. Low back should stay firm against the floor throughout.
Burpees – 1 minute
How to do burpees:
- Start in a plank position with arms and legs long, hands shoulder distance apart.
- Walk or jump both feet between your hands coming into a low squat. Jump straight up as high as possible, land, and come back to your plank position.
Tricep Overhead Extensions – 12 reps
How to do tricep overhead extensions:
- Standing with feet hip distance apart holding dumbbells straight overhead and keeping your spine long and abs tight.
- Bend elbows lowering dumbbells behind the base of the head. Keep your elbows hugging in towards your head and pointing forward. Then extend your arms long returning to your starting position working the triceps.
Punching – 1 Minute
How to do punching:
- Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart and bend knees slightly. Tighten the core to keep your center still.
- Punch out one arm at a time at a steady pace.
Side Plank with Arm Extension – 10 reps per side
How to do side plank with arm extension:
- Bring your body into one straight line on the floor stacking legs, hips, and your shoulder directly over your elbow into a forearm plank. Lift hips with dumbbell resting hovering over the floor. (You can modify this plank by bending your lower knee if necessary)
- Raise the dumbbell directly over your shoulder keeping abdominals engaged and lower with control working your arms, and entire core.
Skaters – 1 minute
How to do skaters:
- Start with your legs slightly wider than shoulder distance apart and arms at the sides.
- Bring one leg behind at a slight angle into a reverse lunge. The front knee will come to a 90-degree angle.
- Swing the arms in front of that bent knee and leap the back leg forward to switch sides in a skating motion. Arms alternate as you switch sides like a speed skater
Bicep curls: 12 reps
How to do bicep curls:
- Stand with feet hip distance apart. Start by holding the dumbbells down next to the sides of your legs with arms fully extended, a slight bend in the elbow and palms facing forward.
- Bend your elbows and curl your dumbbells up to your shoulders, make sure you curl all the way to the top.
- Lower the weights back down making sure to straighten your arms until they are next to your legs where you started.
Jumping jacks – 1 minute
How to do jumping jacks:
- Start standing up with your legs together, a slight bend in knees, and hands resting on thighs.
- Keeping the knees bent, open the arms and legs out to the sides. Arms come above the head and legs wider than shoulders.
- Close your arms and legs back to your sides, returning to your start.
Shoulder Presses – 12 reps
How to do shoulder presses:
- Start with feet hip distance apart. Bring elbows out to the side creating a goal post position with arms, dumbbells are at the side of the head, and abdominals are tight.
- Press dumbbells slowly up until arms are straight. Slowly return to starting position with control. Repeat for desired number of reps.
For more variety of quick workouts you can do at home, check out some of our free 10-minute workouts.
NOTE: Strength training and cardio are very important for your health, but your diet is another crucial factor. For more results with your upper body workouts, try cleaning up your diet where you can. For a healthy diet, exchange extra sugars and processed foods for muscle-building lean protein, veggies, fruits and healthy fats. Here are 9 tips to eat healthy on a budget.