Build a strong, toned upper body with this strength workout at home. All you need is a set of dumbbells and just 20 minutes to build strength in the upper body!
This is the second day of our Functional Strength Training Program. Yesterday we hit the legs and back. Today we’re hitting the arms, specifically focusing on the shoulder muscles (which are considered “push muscles” because they assist with pushing motions, like push ups). Typically we work the shoulders with the chest and triceps.
BUT today’s arm workout targets the back and biceps too — we’ll hit every muscle group while really focusing on the shoulder muscles!
Arm and Shoulder Workout FAQs
Why Is It Important To Train The Arms And Shoulders?
Strength training your shoulders improves posture and strengthens the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, creating more stability (the shoulder joint is one of the most delicate joints). While your shoulder muscles are relatively small compared to some of the bigger muscles in the upper body (like the chest, back and biceps), it’s important to strength train the shoulder muscles, especially if you want to avoid a rotator cuff injury.
What Are The Benefits Of Dumbbell Shoulder And Arm Workouts?
Dumbbell arm and shoulder exercises have many benefits. Shoulder workouts train multiple upper body muscles because several of the exercises that engage the shoulder muscles also work the other muscles in your arms — that’s exactly what we’ll do in today’s workout. These workouts help you achieve toned arms and prevent injury.
20-Minute Arm and Shoulder Workout
Strong 20: Day 2
Build upper body strength — specifically targeting the shoulders — in this quick and effective shoulders and arms workout at home.
Today’s workout is made up of seven dumbbell strength training exercises designed to target the shoulder muscles from multiple angles to create definition and tone the arms.
I suggest doing this shoulders and arms workout once a week as part of a well-rounded workout routine.
A medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells.
I recommend 8-30 lbs depending on your fitness level. We’re using 10-20 lb dumbbells in this workout. The last 2-3 reps of each exercise should be challenging to complete with good form.
Option to add a bench for modifications.
Shop My Dumbbells
We’re using 10, 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in this arm workout.
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and core muscles.
How To Do A Push Up and 2 Arm Reaches
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.
Hold this plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground as your elbows fall back towards your hips (not out to the sides).
Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position.
At the top of your high plank, shift your weight into your left hand as you perform an arm reach on the right, extending the right arm out in front of you.
Pull the right arm back in to find high plank position, then shift the weight into your right hand and perform an arm reach on the left arm. That’s one rep.
Modification: Option to follow the modifier in the video and perform a dumbbell chest press. Or take the push up and arm reaches from an incline by placing your hands on a chair or bench.
Dumbbell Press Out and 4 Bus Drivers
Targets: All heads of the shoulder muscles including the anterior deltoid, medial deltoid and upper portion of the pecs (chest muscles); AND abs and deep transverse abdominal core muscles.
How To Do A Dumbbell Press Out and 4 Bus Drivers
Start in a kneeling position, knees under hips, core engaged.
Hold one dumbbell horizontally with both hands. Press the dumbbell straight out in front of you at shoulder height with a slight bend in the elbows.
Then, rotate the dumbbell vertically to the right. Then reverse the movement, rotating vertically to the left (like you’re driving a car or bus). Repeat for 4 bus drivers. On the last one, rotate the dumbbell back to a horizontal position.
With control, pull the dumbbell back to your chest and repeat the sequence.
Single Arm Reverse Grip Back Row and Bicep Curl and Rotational Shoulder Press
Targets: Both the lower back and upper back (specifically the lats and rhomboids), biceps, shoulder muscles (posterior, lateral, and anterior deltoids), core and obliques.
How To Do A Single Arm Reverse Grip Row and Bicep Curl and Rotational Press
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Grip one dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing out away from the body.
Hinge at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor (neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button and rib cage pulled in).
Pull the weight back towards your right hip (simultaneously pulling your right shoulder blade down).
Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position with control, then perform a single arm bicep curl by curling the dumbbell in your right arm up to shoulder height.
Then, rotate your hips to the right as you perform a dumbbell shoulder press by pressing the dumbbell in your left hand overhead towards the right (rotational press). Note: the left foot should pivot, following the direction of the dumbbell.
With control, bring the dumbbell back to your shoulder as you pivot, facing the front of the room to return to the starting position and repeat the sequence.
Modification: Take out the rotation, performing a single arm Arnold Press instead.
Half Bicep Curl and L-Fly
Targets: Biceps, shoulders and core.
How To Do A Half Bicep Curl and L-Fly
Start with feet under hips, core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in (hammer curl).
Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, perform a half bicep curl. Pause at the top to hold both arms at a 90-degree angle.
Then, perform a L-fly by rotating the arms up until they arm parallel with the floor (performing a lateral raise while maintaining a 90-degree bend in both elbows). Arms are in line with shoulders and elbows remain bent at 90 degrees. Avoid pulling the shoulders up to the ears.
With control, lower the arms down to return to the half curl isometric hold.
Lower the dumbbells down to the starting position with control and repeat.
Alternating Press Out (Dumbbell Punches)
Targets: Shoulders, back, biceps and triceps. A killer arm exercise to sculpt and tone the upper body muscles.
How To Do An Alternating Press Out
Start standing feet hip-distance apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent at 90 degrees and palms facing in towards each other (hammer grip)
Alternate punching each dumbbell forward a few inches, then returning to center. Note that the farther you press the weights away from your body, the harder this exercise becomes.
1 Floor Press and 3 Skull Crushers
Targets: Chest (pecs), shoulders (deltoids) and triceps.
How To Do 1 Floor Press and 3 Skull Crushers
Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, incline bench, or on a stability ball) with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold one dumbbell in each hand (palms facing knees), elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
Exhale as you press the weights overhead at the same time; dumbbells stacked over shoulders at the top of the press. Make sure your wrists are strong and in line with your shoulders.
At the top of the dumbbell chest press, perform three skull crushers by bending at the elbows to slowly lower the weights towards your head (just bending at the elbows, lowering the dumbbells towards your temples).
Then press the dumbbells back overhead. Repeat for three dumbbell skull crushers and lower the weights back to your chest.
Targets: Triceps (back of the arm).
How To Do Tricep Dips
Place your palms on the head of a sturdy set of dumbbells. You can also perform tricep dips sitting on the ground with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands behind you (fingertips facing your butt). Or you can grip the edge of a chair or bench, fingertips pointed toward your butt or toes, elbows bent.
Keeping your back close to the dumbbells, lower yourself down as far as you can before your butt touches the ground.
Press through your palms, using your triceps to push you back up to starting position. Note that the closer your heels are to your butt, the harder this exercise becomes.
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Thank you for the functional work out! Loving having the efficient, fast work out for a busy mom!
Hi Tania! You are so awesome mama! SO glad you are loving the strong 20 program! Keep coming back for more!
I am so happy I shared this workout with you. Thank you for supporting me in my everyday life and helping me prepare for every challenge. I am nourished in body and mind!
Klara! I’m so glad you enjoyed this workout! Keep up the great work and keep coming back for more! -Lindsey
Love love love this New Year Challenge!! Thank you!
Kori! So glad you’re loving this new Strong in 20 Program! Keep up the great work and keep coming back for more! -Lindsey
Currently one day behind since we moved on Monday, and wow was this a burner! Loving the 20min format during this busy season with my 10mo old. Now off to unpack some more boxes 😂
Leah! You’re so awesome fitting these workouts in while moving with a toddler (we just moved and it’s SO MUCH WORK)! So proud of you — keep up the great work! -Lindsey
What an arm burner! So hard but extremely efficient. Thanks for this fantastic workout and the whole new plan!
Way to go Sarah! So glad you liked this one — it is a burner! Keep up the great work and keep coming back for more! -Lindsey