Upper body workout

Strengthen your upper body with these moves to target your arms, chest and back.
Published 2 August 2016 | Updated 12 June 2024

Strengthen and tone your upper body with this targeted workout designed to sculpt your arms, chest, and back. Each exercise focuses on key muscle groups, providing a comprehensive fitness session that can fit into your busy schedule. Whether you're a beginner or looking to up your fitness game, this routine adapts to your needs and helps you achieve noticeable results.

How to do the workout:

Do each exercise for one minute and repeat the circuit up to three times for a quick fitness session that’s between five and 15 minutes.

What you need:

Just a yoga mat or towel, plus a set of dumbbells, for the 2-2-2 Bicep Curls, that you're able to lift comfortably. Start with 1kg-3kg, then as you get stronger, try heavier 3-5kg weights. Gradually using heavier weights challenges your body so you see and feel results.

1. 2-2-2 Bicep curls

Works: Biceps

How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent and holding 1kg-5kg dumbbells in each hand. Start with your fists in front of your thighs. Keeping your arms tucked by your sides, bend your elbows and slowly raise your fists to halfway. Straighten your arms to return to the start position. Complete two bottom-half curls twice. Complete two top-half curls – fists starting at shoulder-height, slowly lowering halfway. Then complete two full curls starting in front of your thighs and finishing at shoulder height. Repeat two of each curl for one minute.

2-2-2 Bicep curls

2. Push-ups

Works: Chest and arms

How to: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and your elbows tucked in, knees at a 90-degree angle and feet together. Keep your core engaged and chin tucked in, bend your elbows and breathe in as you lower your chest towards the floor. Hold for a second, then slowly push back up to the starting position being careful not to lock your elbows. Repeat for one minute.

Tip: Add variety by doing narrow, medium and wide push-ups by changing your hand positioning.

Challenge: To challenge yourself, do the push-ups on your toes.


3. Tricep dips

Works: Triceps

How to: Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat and hip-width apart. Place your hands behind you, palms flat on the floor and facing inwards towards your bottom. Slowly push through your hands to straighten your arms as you raise your glutes off the floor. Hold for a second then slowly bend your elbows as you lower yourself just off the floor. Repeat for one minute.

Tricep dips

4. Dorsal raises

Works: Upper back

How to: Lie on your tummy with your legs straight out behind you, your elbows by your side, hands flat on the floor and neck straight. Relax your lower body as you lift your upper body and hands off the floor squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for a second. Slowly lower your upper body back down to the floor. Repeat for one minute.

Dorsal raises

5. Downward dog push-up

Works: Shoulders

How to: Start in a downward-facing dog position with your feet and hands shoulder-width apart and your hips raised so your body forms an inverted V. Keep your neck relaxed and in line with your body. Slowly bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor. Then push up through your hands, returning to the starting position. Repeat for one minute.

Downward dog push-up

Before starting any new exercise routine, make sure to check in with your doctor.