4 min read

Build Upper Body Strength With These 4 Dumbbell Workouts

Improve muscle definition, strength, endurance, and posture
Build Upper Body Strength With These 4 Dumbbell Workouts
When we think about working out our upper bodies, we can get caught up in doing it just for the flex. Toned arms, pumped up pecs, and a rippling back — they all certainly look nice, but there are many more important reasons to consistently train your upper body beyond the aesthetics.

The Importance of Building Your Upper Body

1. Improved Posture
Many of us tend to spend time sitting in front of our computer for work or unconsciously let our bodies rest in a less than optimal state. Hunched shoulders, caved-in core, and a craning neck all make for terrible posture and the ill side-effects that come with it like extra pressure on the spine, back and neck pain, and even worse sleep.
A strong back and an activated upper body help to improve and maintain proper posture and your mind-body connection. You’ll sit up straighter and you’ll be more aware of the components of your upper body that make up good posture.
2. Ease with Daily Activities
Whether it’s lugging a heavy bag of groceries out of the supermarket or a PGA-worthy golf swing, a strong upper body makes everyday life easier. Even for sports like running, a strong upper body is key to making you a more efficient runner.
3. Lower Risk of Injury
With a strong upper body and overall better upper body awareness, you improve your balance and reduce the risk of injury (and pain). If you lift something heavy and have a strong upper body and strong upper body awareness, you can move with proper form to ensure you’re moving safely. Strong muscles also protect your tendons, ligaments, and bones from unnecessary wear and tear, especially as we age.

4 Exercises to Add to Your Training Routine

The good news about upper body workouts is that they’re largely low impact, so putting in the work can be done with a lower risk of hurting your joints or aggravating an existing injury. These exercises come recommended by Dr. Joel French, Tempo’s Head of Exercise Science.
“These exercises are important to do regularly because they target the upper back as well as your core upper body muscle groups to help alleviate the tendency for poor posture, neck tension, and to have well-rounded upper body strength,” Dr. French said.
All of these exercises can be found in a variety of Tempo classes, but we suggest Tempo athletes look specifically at our Strength classes which aim to provide your body with hypertrophy training.
Dr. French recommends incorporating upper body strength training into your routine 2-3 times per week, making sure that you’re steadily increasing the weight as you get stronger and feel more comfortable. For any two-armed exercises below, feel free to sub in a barbell instead.

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
The bent-over row primarily works the lats which are the biggest muscles in the upper body. So if you are trying to build muscle mass for metabolism, hitting the biggest muscles is smart. The row also hits the muscles of the upper back and the back of the shoulder which helps you maintain good posture, reduce neck strain, risk of a shoulder injury, etc. Developing strength in these muscles means you can lift more from the ground, pull open a heavy door, and more with ease.
Dumbbell Single-Arm Row
Similar to the bent-over row, the single-arm row employs even more of the back and lats (the large muscles below your armpit) and requires more core activation and stability. By training one side at a time, you improve body awareness and can also pinpoint any body imbalances.
Dumbbell Chest Press
Your chest muscles help generate more full-body strength that will assist you in your day-to-day life and activities like pushing a stroller or shopping cart. Using dumbbells for this exercise also allows you to train both sides of your body more effectively.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Develop strong “boulder shoulders” as our Coach Bryan would say. Strong shoulders help protect your delicate shoulder joint and develop your deltoids to generate force which helps when lifting heavy things overhead.

For Tempo athletes, we’ve compiled the best of the best for upper body workouts that include all of the above exercises in our Upper Body Collection — you can find it by scrolling down in the Class tab.


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