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10-Minute Upper Body Workout for Women (5 Best Upper Body Exercises)

Build upper body strength and toned arms with this 10-Minute Upper Body Workout for Women! This workout routine consists of the 5 best upper body exercises for women, targeting the back, biceps, shoulders, triceps, and chest.

An upper body strength workout for women that targets every muscle in the upper body! Get strong, toned arms with these 5 upper body strength training exercises.

You don’t need fancy gym equipment or exercises like dumbbell bench presses and chin-ups to build strong arms — there are plenty of upper body workouts you can do at home with just a set of dumbbells.

Which Muscles Make Up the Upper Body?

The upper body is made up of several large muscles, including the:

We’re going to fatigue all of these upper body muscles in this strength training, metabolism boosting workout; done in a repetition drop format.

A rep-drop format means that you decrease the number of reps per exercise each set.

This format strives to work each upper body muscle to the point of failure in order to build muscle. The goal is to maintain (or increase) the weight you are using as you decrease the reps performed.

You should be struggling to complete the last few reps of each exercise with good form – that’s how you know you chose challenging weights.

upper body workout women | woman performing bicep curl with dumbbells

Upper Body Workout FAQs

What are the Benefits of Upper Body Strength Training?

A strong upper body helps improve posture, makes everyday tasks easier, and can give your other workouts a boost! The chest and back are some of your largest muscle groups. HIIT workouts and circuit training often involve these large muscle groups, so keeping them strong will make your other workouts better, too!

What are the Best Upper Body Exercises for Women?

The best upper body exercises for women are compound movements that target multiple muscle groups at once. For example, upper body weight training routines for women should include both ‘push’ exercises (targeting the chest, shoulders and triceps) and ‘pull’ exercises (targeting the back and biceps).

What Can You Pair with these Upper Body Exercises?

I would pair this 10-minute upper body workout for women with this 15-Minute HIIT Cardio Workout for a major calorie burn! Or I would add these 5 upper body exercises onto one of these upper body workouts as an ‘arm burnout’. I also recommend cooling down with this stretch routine: The 8 Best Upper Body Stretches.

5 best upper body exercises for women | woman performing Arnold press

10-Minute Upper Body Workout for Women

The goal is to build upper body strength and toned arms using a set of dumbbells to complete these five upper body exercises.

Each upper body exercise is designed to target a specific muscle group — back, biceps, chest, shoulders and triceps.

Workout Equipment:

Medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells. I’m using a set of 10 lb dumbbells in this workout video, but if I were doing this upper body workout at home I would push for 15-20 lb dumbbells. 

The goal is to complete this rep-drop workout using the same set of dumbbells the entire time. That said, you can always start with a heavier set of dumbbells and drop down to a lighter set of dumbbells as your upper body fatigues. 

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided upper body workout for women on YouTube at the top of this post, led by personal trainer Lindsey Bomgren. 

Or you can work off the five best upper body exercises below at your own pace. Note, this video does not include a warm up but here’s a great upper body warm up routine.

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women
  • Repetition Drop Format — you’ll decrease the number of reps you perform for each upper body exercise as you move through the workout (Reps are: 12-10-8-6-4).
  • Repeat x5 Sets
10-Minute Upper Body Workout For Women | Women performing bent over back row with dumbbells

5 Best Upper Body Exercises Workout Outline

1. Bicep Curls
2. Arnold Press
3. Lying Skull Crushers
4. Push Ups
5. Reverse Grip Bent Over Back Rows

5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women

Bicep Curls

Targets: The long (outer) and short (inner) heads of the bicep muscles (upper arms).

The best bicep exercises to make the bicep muscles pop.

Woman performing standard bicep curls with dumbbells (best upper body workout for women)

How To Do Standard Bicep Curl

  1. Start with feet hip-width apart and core engaged. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
  2. Shoulders out of the ears and shoulder blades pulled down towards the hips.
  3. Keeping your elbows in line with, or slightly in front of, your body squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder height as you exhale.
  4. With control, slowly lower the dumbbells back down to return to the starting position and repeat.

Modification: If you feel yourself using momentum rather than your arm muscles to lift and lower the weights (using your body to swing the weights), use lighter weights or alternate arms rather than curling both arms at once.

Arnold Press

Targets: All three heads of the deltoids, also known as your shoulder muscles.

The overhead press builds defined shoulders and improves posture.

How to do an Arnold Press (best upper body workout for women)

How To Do An Arnold Press

  1. Stand tall, feet shoulder-width distance apart. Start with a pair of dumbbells directly in front of your face at eye level (overhand grip, palms face your body).
  2. Keep a slight bend in your knees, and be sure to engage your core and squeeze your glutes (to protect your low back) as you ‘goalpost’ your arms by turning the palms out so they’re facing away from your face; elbows parallel to shoulders.
  3. Then exhale as you perform an overhead shoulder press, pushing the weights directly overhead, locking out your elbows (biceps by ears).
  4. Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position, rotating your palms back in towards your face, and repeat.

Modification: If you feel yourself arching your back to press the dumbbells overhead, use lighter weights or alternate arms by first pressing dumbbell in the right overhead, and then the left hand.

Lying Skull Crushers

Targets: The triceps or back of your arm. 

Skull crushers tighten and tone the back of the arm.

Woman performing a skull crusher lying on her back

How To Do Skull Crushers

  1. Lie flat on the ground or on a bench or stability ball; legs bent at a 90-degree angle, feet planted firmly on the ground.
  2. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms so the dumbbells are directly overhead (palms facing one another).
  3. Bending at the elbows, inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells towards your head (just bending at the elbows, lowering the dumbbells towards your temples).
  4. Then exhale as you press the dumbbells back overhead to return to the starting position.

Modification: If you only have heavy dumbbells, you can drop from two dumbbells down to one dumbbell to perform this exercise (holding the dumbbell horizontally with one head in each hand).

Push Ups

Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and core muscles.

Push ups are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your entire upper body using just your bodyweight.

How to do push ups for women

How To Do Push Ups

  1. Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly, feet hip-width apart. Option to place your hands on weights if you have wrist pain.
  2. Hold this plank position, maintaining a straight line with your torso, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest down towards the mat as your elbows fall about 6 inches away from your body.
  4. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position. Repeat.

Modification: Substitute incline push ups by placing your hands on a chair or bench; or drop to your knees for modified push ups.

Reverse Grip Back Row

Targets: Both the lower back and upper back, specifically the lats and rhomboids.

This compound exercise also strengthens the biceps as they are also engaged in the “pull” motion.

Woman performing a reverse grip back row with dumbbells

How To Do A Reverse Grip Back Row With Dumbbells

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Grip a set of dumbbells, palms facing out away from the body.
  3. Hinge at the hips until your chest is parallel to the floor, neutral spine (neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button and rib cage pulled in). 
  4. Pull the weights back towards your hips, stopping when your left and right elbow come in line with your torso. Feel your shoulder blades squeeze together.
  5. Control the dumbbells back down to the starting position. 

Modification: Perform this bilateral exercise as a unilateral exercise, by focusing the row on one side of the body. Use one dumbbell to perform a single arm row.

Pin this Workout: The BEST Upper Body Workout for Women

The BEST Upper Body Workout Women At Home with Dumbbells | pin for pinterest

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12 comments
  1. Fantastic workout! I love your enthusiasm, you push us to the max 🙂 I managed to do it all with my 12 lbs. dumbbells, next time I’ll try 15 lbs. Thanks so much, Lindsey!

  2. You are amazing!! Your workouts are awesome and you are so eager to share! I’m grateful to have stumbled across your Instagram profile, I will be sweating and growing muscle with the aid of your videos, so thank you so much!!

  3. Hi, love this…can you make a 5 best lower body with same format as well as 5 best core. This is so simplistic and easy to follow. Question; do you perform exercise 1 for 12,10,8,6,4 count back to back then move to exercise 2 or is this done more in circuit style 12 of each then 10 of each, etc

  4. Just did this workout at home and it was great!
    Need to get my arms toned for summer 2019.
    Xo,
    Amy R.