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20-Minute Upper Body Dumbbell Workout (All Standing)

Build strong, defined arm and back muscles with this all-standing sweat session: the best upper body dumbbell workout. This no-repeat and all-standing arm workout is a fun way to build strength in every muscle in the upper body. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and 20 minutes to target the chest, back, biceps, triceps and shoulders.

Biceps, triceps, back, chest and shoulders – this upper body dumbbell workout targets it all, without hitting the mat or repeating exercises.

These are the best standing arm exercises, combined in an engaging no-repeat format. Each circuit focuses on a different part of the upper body, and includes two to three upper body strength training exercises designed to build muscle.

Each exercise is performed from a standing position, similar to our popular Standing Lower Body Workout and Standing Ab Circuit.

Standing exercises are an effective and accessible way to train if you can’t or dislike getting up and down from the ground during workouts. That also makes this a great workout for pregnancy and beginners.

Add these exercises to your at home arm workout to build muscle definition, increase strength, and burn fat.

two women performing overhead tricep extensions as part of upper body dumbbell workout

Upper Body Dumbbell Workout FAQs

Can I Get A Full Upper Body Workout with Dumbbells?

Dumbbells are an extremely effective tool for building strength in every muscle in the upper body. If your goal is to improve definition in your arms, reach for heavy weights. You’ll know you chose the right weight if the last 2-3 reps in a set are challenging to complete with good form (The American Council on Exercise).

What Is The Most Effective Upper Body Workout?

The most effective upper body workouts focus on compound exercises, or exercises that hit multiple muscles in the upper body at once. This is the most efficient way to train, as it both increases muscle engagement and saves time. You can also add on upper body isolation exercises (or exercises that focus on a specific muscle group) such as bicep exercises, shoulder exercises, back exercises, tricep exercises and chest exercises to address muscle imbalances or weaknesses.

two women performing a dumbbell press out as part of upper body dumbbell workout

20-Minute Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

Build upper strength and muscle definition with this 20-minute arm day workout.

A complete arm workout targeting every muscle group in the upper body: the shoulders, biceps, triceps, back and chest.

Add this upper body workout to your home workout plan 1-2 times per week to build and maintain strength in the upper body.

Workout Equipment:

Medium to Heavy Set of Dumbbells. I recommend between 5-30 lbs depending on your fitness level. We used 10, 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in today’s workout. Option to drop weights at any point and perform these exercises with just your bodyweight.

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woman performing dumbbell punches

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Standing Upper Body Dumbbell Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 14 Upper Body Dumbbell Exercises
  • Timed Intervals (40 seconds of work per exercise, followed by 20 seconds of rest)
  • No Repeats (perform each move x1)

Workout Outline

1. Alternating Arnold Press
2. Alternating Front Raise
3. Lateral Raise and Half Bicep Curl

1. Bicep Curls
2. Flip Grip Curls
3. Two Back Rows and Two Bicep Curls

1. Single, Single, Double Reverse Grip Rows
2. Single Arm Back Rows
3. Back Fly and Straight Arm Pullback

1. Overhead Tricep Extensions
2. Alternating Tricep Kickbacks

1. Alternating Standing Chest Fly
2. Halo and Lateral Dumbbell Press Out
3. Dumbbell Punches

two women performing dumbbell bicep curls as part of upper body workout

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Arm Workout

5 Upper Body Dumbbell Exercises

Alternating Arnold Press

Targets: All three heads of the deltoids, also known as your shoulder muscles. Core and low back are also engaged.

two women performing alternating arnold press to target the arms and shoulders

How To Do Alternating Arnold Presses

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, shoulders stacked over hips and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at eye level, palms facing in towards your face.
  2. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to protect your low back as you slowly raise the weight in your right hand overhead. As you raise the dumbbell, rotate your wrist so that the palm of your hand is facing outward (away from the body) when your arm is fully extended.
  3. Then slowly reverse the movement, rotating your wrist as you lower the dumbbell to return to starting position, palm facing in towards your body.
  4. Repeat, this time raising the dumbbell in your left hand overhead, rotating your wrist so that your left palm is facing outward when your arm is fully extended.
  5. Slowly and with control, lower the dumbbell and reverse the rotation, returning to starting position.

Flip-Grip Bicep Curls

Targets: The bicep muscles (front of your arm), specifically the brachialis (mid-arm) and brachioradialis (forearm).

The flip-grip curl is a bicep exercise that hits both heads of the muscle by combining a supine grip curl and a hammer curl.

two women performing flip grip bicep curls as part of upper body dumbbell workout

How To Do Supine Bicep Curls and Hammer Bicep Curls

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart and core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder-height.
  3. At the top of the movement, rotate your hands so palms face in towards each other (hammer curl). With control, slowly lower the dumbbells down to your sides.
  4. At the bottom of your movement, flip your grip so palms face out again. Return to the starting position and repeat this movement.

Reverse Grip Back Row

Targets: Upper back, mid-back, biceps, hamstrings, glutes and core. This move is particularly effective for engaging the latissimus dorsi (or lats), the largest back muscle).

two women performing back rows as part of upper body dumbbell workout

How To Do Single, Single, Double Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, slight bend in both knees.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing out away from your body (reverse grip).
  3. Hinge forward at the hips maintaining a flat back, belly button pulled back towards your spine.
  4. Pull the dumbbell in your right hand back towards your right hip to perform a single arm row on the right. Think of pulling from your elbow joint versus your wrist, as if you were starting a pull-start lawnmower. Stop once your elbow is in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from shoulder to elbow. Hold the row at the top for a moment squeezing your shoulder blade in.
  5. With control, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
  6. Alternate sides, this time pulling the dumbbell in your left hand towards your left hip, performing a single arm row on the left side before lowering the dumbbell back to starting position.
  7. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull both the right and left arms back towards your hips, elbows parallel to ribcage, performing a reverse grip back row with both arms.

Overhead Tricep Extension

Targets: The long head of the triceps and all the stabilizing muscles in the shoulders, core, glutes and lower back muscles.

two women performing overhead tricep extensions as part of standing arm workout

How To Do Overhead Tricep Extensions

  1. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, core engaged and soft bend in your knees. Option to stagger your feet for more stability and support.
  2. Hold one dumbbell vertically overhead. Activate your core by squeezing your glutes and abs to protect your lower back.
  3. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, bringing the dumbbell behind your head. Think ‘hide the dumbbell, show the dumbbell’ if you were watching yourself in a mirror. Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the entire movement (don’t let your elbows flare out as you fatigue).
  4. Then, squeeze through the back of your upper arm to straighten the elbows, extending the arms and pressing the dumbbell overhead.

Standing Chest Fly

Targets: Chest muscles, both the larger pectoralis major and the smaller pectoralis minor.

The standing chest fly is one of the only chest exercises that can be done from a standing position. This is a great alternative to push ups if you have wrist pain, or chest presses if you can’t lie on your back.

two women performing standing chest flys as part of dumbbell upper body workout

How To Do Standing Chest Flys

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides; palms face out away from the body (underhand grip). Shoulder blades pulled down towards your hips.
  2. Squeeze your chest as you lift your right hand across your body bringing the dumbbell in the right hand parallel to your left shoulder. Think “right pinky finger to left shoulder.” Palm faces up towards the ceiling.
  3. Keep a soft bend in your elbow as you lower the dumbbell back to starting position with control.

Pin This Workout: Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

Collage of woman performing upper body dumbbell exercises

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