You don’t need to pay out for expensive personal trainers or pay for a costly gym membership when all you need for a well-toned upper body is a set of dumbbells, a gym mat and a bench. In our upperbody workout for women article, we will cover 4 of the best dumbbell exercises to help you achieve the upper body you have always wanted.  woman weight training

You can also check out our Best Body Weight Exercises article for your 9 top toning bodyweight exercises to give your upper body the ultimate workout, no weights or bench needed. You can do the exercises on their own or you could add the dumbbell exercises in there too.



Save Time & Train at Home

 One of the best reasons to train at home when it comes to your workouts has to be time. It’s bad enough waiting in traffic queues on your journey to work! Why waste any more of your precious time waiting in queues travelling to the gym. I worked out I spent nearly as much time driving to and back from the gym as I did the actual workout.

Once you arrive at the gym it’s normally peak hours, everybody has to come after work and the gym is heaving, the weight rooms are packed full, and all the machines are taken. After 10 years of being a member of various commercial gyms, I decided I’d had enough and built my own gym.

I’m not saying you need to build a large home gym. For beginners, I’d recommend buying a dumbbell set, a mat and a sturdy bench. See how you get along with training for the first 3-5 months, no point spending big if you are only going to lose interest soon after. But I’m sure once you see and feel the benefits of a regular weight training routine and healthy diet, you will wonder why you didn’t start earlier.


One of, if not the most important part of any weight training routine is diet. 60% diet 40% training, you might be surprised diet is so important, but don’t be, your body needs a healthy well-balanced diet to make the most of the hard work you are putting into your training. Muscle is developed from high-quality proteins.salmon on chopping board

You will want to limit your fat intake and increase protein intake and remember variety is key. Try and cut carbs too if you are overweight.

Here’s an idea of some of the foods that will be very beneficial to your training diet.

Healthy High Protein Foods

Fish – Tuna, salmon, sardines 

Beef – Low-fat steak mince, beef tenderloin, ribeye, T-bone, top sirloin

Checkin/Turkey– Eat breast, breast mince, try to avoid thigh or leg, if you do eat, remove skins

Pork – Chops are fine to remove fat – pork tenderloin, medallion (*cutlets) low-fat pork mince, avoid shoulder/belly

Eggs – Boiled or poached is best if you like yours fried, lightly fry in olive oil

Seed – Chia, pumpkin, hemp, sunflower and sesame

Nuts – Pecans, almonds, pistachio, peanuts and Brazil nuts

Beans – Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans

Benefits of Lifting Weights

Did you know that weight training or any strength training that uses resistance(this includes bodyweight exercises) can help or even prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Studies have shown that weight training over a certain period of time can help prevent bone loss and could help create new bone.

At any age in your life, it is a good time to start training. As we age our bone mass steadily decreases, especially post-menopausal women who are more likely to suffer from estrogen deficiency. Many studies, particularly of women in their 60s and 70s who took on a resistance training programme, showed vast improvement in bone density around hips and spinal area.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you are older, start training now, it’s always better to prevent an illness than to cure it. But don’t worry if you’re starting training late in life, the outcome can only be positive. you will slowly start to increase your bone density.

Increased Metabolism – You Will Burn Calories Faster!

One of the most impressive benefits of weight training or any strength training programme is the afterburn effect. Once you start to turn all the no good fatty stuff inside into healthier muscle, your resting metabolic rate rises.

This means after a single weight training session your body will continue burning calories up to 36 hours after a workout.

amino acid, metabolism

Great news,  even sitting on the couch watching the tv, your body is still burning the extra calories because of your raised metabolism.

Muscle burns 10x the calories of fat- keep reminding yourself of that stat!

Following a training routine will not only make you a lot fitter, burn fat and give you more muscle mass, it will also make you stronger. You will be stronger to deal with everyday tasks.  Self-esteem improves as your body starts to change, and you will see the changes slowly taking place each time you look in the mirror, it will give you a real boost.

lets take a look at the 4 dumbbell exercises to get your upper body toned and in shape.

Seated Shoulder Press

To start, a great pressing movement to create strength and balance in the shoulders.

Primary Muscles worked: Anterior Deltoids

Secondary muscles worked: Pectorius major, Triceps brachii, Trapezius upper and lower.

3 sets of 12-15reps (3×12-15)

Starting position

  1. Pick up two dumbbells, using an overhand grip, sit down on an upright bench.
  2. Lift dumbbells to shoulder level and rotate your palms so they are facing forward.

  1. In a controlled fashion slowly push the dumbells upwards to an overhead position, until the dumbbells touch each other. Remember not to arch the back or lock elbows at the top of the movement.
  2. Slowly return the dumbbells to starting position and repeat.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Another fantastic compound movement for building the chest muscles. What makes this such a great exercise is the fact it can be performed at various different angles, targeting all 3 major muscles of the chest.

Primary muscles used: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, Triceps brachii

Secondary muscle used: Teres major and minor, rhomboid major and trapezius

3 sets 12-15 reps last rep until failure(3×12-15)

Starting position

  1. Sit on the edge of the bench and grab two dumbbells using an overhand grip.
  2. Lie back and rest both dumbbells on your knees
  3. Bring both dumbbells to each side of your body at chest level.
  4. Now straighten arms and hold dumbbells above your chest, palms facing forward

  1. Slowly bend arms and lower the dumbbell to the side of your chest.
  2. Push the dumbbells from the side of your chest to your starting position, straighten arms completely at top of repetition.
  3. Keep movements slow and controlled.

One Arm Dumbbell Rows

Working several muscles in your upper body including your lats traps and rear shoulder muscles. The dumbbell row is an awesome exercise for strengthening and thickening the back muscles.

Primary muscles used: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius (middle) Brachialis, posterior deltoids

Secondary muscles used: Biceps brachii, teres major and minor

2/3 sets (10-12reps) last set until failure

Starting position

  1. Grip a dumbbell with your right hand using an overhand grip.
  2. Bend at the hips and place your left knee on a flat bench. Keep your right foot on the floor and leg slightly flexed.
  3. Your upper body should almost be parallel to the floor.

  1. Keeping your elbow close to your shoulder, pull the dumbbell up towards your hip.
  2. Slowly lower the dumbbell in a controlled manner and repeat for the desired number of reps.
  3. Switch side and repeat with another arm.

Tricep Kickbacks

Becoming ever more popular the tricep kickback is an easy and versatile movement that isolates the triceps.

Primary Muscles used: Triceps (inner and medial heads)

Secondary muscles used: Forearms extensors, Posterior deltoids

3 sets 12-15 reps (3×12-15)

  1. With a dumbbell in one hand and palm facing towards your body, bend forward at the waist keeping your back straight. Make sure to keep your head up throughout the movement. 
  2. Keep your dumbbell arm close to the body, the elbow should be at a 90-degree angle between forearm and upper arm.
  3. Extend your elbow to straighten the arm, by doing this you will push out the dumbbell behind you.
  4. Bending the elbow slowly back to starting position.

Last words on form, never choose a weight that’s too heavy to carry out the exercise properly, if any weight is causing you to swing at all then it’s too heavy. Muscle gains will be slower and you will increase the risk of injury. Make sure to have a weight light enough you can carry out the desired amount of reps without jeopardizing your form.