Each circuit in today’s workout contains a back-focused exercise as well as one exercise that targets the back plus an additional muscle group — chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps.
Pick up your heavy weights: this workout utilizes short rest times and heavy strength exercises to achieve muscle growth in just 20 minutes.
Back and Arm Workout FAQs
Can I Train Arms and Back Together?
The back is the largest muscle group in the upper body, but you often use other arm muscles, like the biceps and shoulders, to assist with back exercises. Training these muscle groups together is an effective way to build muscle in the upper body as a whole.
What Are The Benefits Of Dumbbell Back And Arm Workouts?
Dumbbell arm exercises have many benefits. The back is a large, powerful muscle group: which means training it is an effective calorie-burner as well. Adding in accessory arm exercises rounds out the workout and prevents overtraining one muscle group.
20-Minute Back and Arm Workout
Strong 20: Day 7
Build upper body strength — specifically targeting the back — in this quick and effective back and arm workout at home.
Today’s workout is made up of seven dumbbell strength training exercises designed to target the back and arm muscles from multiple angles to create strength and definition.
I suggest doing this arm and back workout with weights 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.
Shop My Dumbbells
We’re using 10, 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in this arm workout.
Targets: The rear delts (rear shoulders), and major upper back muscles including the rhomboids and trapezius.
This is also a great exercise for building core stability and strength.
How To Do A Single Arm Back Fly
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Option to keep feet parallel or take a slightly staggered stance to better support your low back (stepping your left leg slightly behind your right leg).
Hold one dumbbell in your right hand at your right hip; palm facing in.
Hinge forward at the hips, and pull the dumbbell out to the right side of your body, up to shoulder-height. Keep a soft bend in your right elbow and squeeze your right shoulder blade.
Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position with control.
Modification: Option to place your non-working hand on a chair or bench for additional core and balance support.
Standing Chest Fly
Targets: Chest (pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and the serratus anterior) and shoulders.
This challenging upper body move also engages the stabilizing muscles in your core and spine.
How To Do A Standing Chest Fly
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.
Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides; palms facing out away from the body. Shoulder blades pulled down towards your hips.
Squeeze your chest as you lift your right hand across your body (45-degree angle crossover); parallel to your left shoulder. Think “right pinky finger to left shoulder.” Palm up towards the ceiling.
Keep a soft bend in your elbow as you lower the dumbbell back to starting position with control.
Repeat on the left hand, bringing left pinky to the right shoulder.
Targets: Shoulders and back. The upright dumbbell row specifically hits the trapezius and rhomboids (upper back muscles).
How To Do An Upright Row
Start with feet hip width apart, holding dumbbells in your hands. Palms facing in towards your body.
Leading with your elbows, pull the dumbbells up until your elbows reach shoulder height. As you pull the dumbbells up, think of pulling your shoulder blades down. Be sure to keep the dumbbells close to your body as you pull them upwards.
With control, lower the dumbbells back down to starting position.
Row, Clean and Press
Targets: Shoulders, core, back and biceps.
How To Do A Row, Clean and Press
Start standing with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in your right hand.
Squeeze your back to pull your right elbow towards your rib cage, performing a single arm bent over row. Lower the dumbbell with control.
Then, return to a standing position. As you stand, curl the dumbbell in your right hand to your right shoulder, performing a single arm hammer curl.
Then, press your right arm overhead, performing a single arm shoulder press.
Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and repeat.
Back Row and Tricep Kickback
Targets: Back and triceps. A narrow grip for the back rows specifically targets the lats, or latissimus dorsi muscle in your back.
How To Do A Back Row and Tricep Kickback
Start standing feet hip-distance apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in towards each other (narrow grip).
Hinge forward at the hips until your body is in a straight line, neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button pulled back towards your spine.
Pull your elbows back towards your hips, stopping when your elbows are in line with your ribcage.
Hold at the top of the back row, then perform a tricep kickback on the right arm by extending the right elbow so your right arm forms a straight line as you push the dumbbell back past your hips.
With control, bend your elbow to return the dumbbell in your right hand to your hip.
Then repeat on the left, performing a tricep kickback with your left arm.
Dumbbell Pullover and Two Skull Crushers
Targets: Mainly the lats (latissimus dorsi) and pecs (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor) while also targeting the core and abs for stability.
How To Do A Dumbbell Pullover and Two Skull Crushers
Start lying on your back, with legs bent at 90 degrees, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended overhead. Bring the heads of the dumbbells together to touch.
Keep your arms straight, with a slight bend in the elbows, as you slowly lower the dumbbells overhead towards the ground. Fully extend your arms while trying to keep your low back pressed into the mat/ground.
Then pull the dumbbells back overhead, engaging the latissimus dorsi, to return back to the starting position.
Separate the dumbbells, hands shoulder width apart
Then, bend at your elbows and slowly lower weights towards your temples, performing a skull crusher.
Squeeze through the back of your arms to straighten your elbows and return the dumbbells overhead. Repeat twice.
Modification: hold one dumbbell horizontally between both hands rather than using two dumbbells.
Kneeling Half Bicep Curls
Targets: Biceps (front of the upper arm).
Performing this exercise from a kneeling position makes it more difficult by removing any power or “cheating” your lower body might provide; isolating the upper body.
How To Do Kneeling Half Bicep Curls
Start in an kneeling position, hips over knees, core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing out away from the body (underhand grip or supine curl).
Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, perform a half bicep curl, curling the weights up to around belly button height. Pause at the top to hold both arms at a 90-degree angle.
Then, slowly lower the dumbbells with control, returning the weights to your thighs.
Modification: perform standard standing bicep curls rather than kneeling.
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