Today I’m sharing an upper body workout – perfect to do at the gym or at home with a few pieces of equipment. 

It definitely feels like winter over here in Calgary. We’ve gotten snow the last two days. There’s not much on the ground, which I’m very thankful for – it could be a lot worse. I have to admit that the snow does look pretty though. 

And now onto the workout! 

I put together an upper body workout that can be done at the gym or at home, as long as you have a set or two of dumbbells. If you’re in the market for some dumbbells to start an at home gym, I like these ones (affiliate link) from Amazon. 

You’ll do 12 reps of each exercise before moving onto the next one. Once you’ve completed the tricep kickbacks, rest as much as you need before starting again from the top. Remember that using correct form is more important than powering through as fast as you can. It’s better to rest when you need it rather than have bad form and risk an injury. Complete the circuit 3 to 4 times through for a complete workout. 

Here are descriptions of all the exercises in case you’re unfamiliar with any of them. They all should be pretty straight forward though. 


Starting on your toes and hands, make sure your body is a straight line from your heels to your knees, hips, shoulders, and neck. Your hands should be a bit wider than your shoulders. Slowly bend at the elbows, lowering yourself to the ground. Try to get at low as possible, and then push yourself back up, all the while maintaining that straight line. An easier modification is instead of being on your toes, lower to your knees.

Overhead press

Stand with your feet hip width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. With your upper arms in a 90 degree angle to your torso and your hands directly above your elbows, lift your hands straight up so that your arms are straight above your head. Slowly lower your hands back down to the starting position.

Bent over rows

With a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing each other) bend forward slightly at the hips so that your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, letting your arms hang straight down and keeping your back in a neutral position. Bring both dumbbells up towards your armpits while contracting your shoulder blades towards each other (kind of like pinching your shoulder blades together). Move dumbbells back towards starting position.

Bicep curls

Start with the feet hip width apart, and back in a neutral position. With a dumbbell in each hand, keep your elbows in close to your side and raise the dumbbell upwards. Movement should be at the elbow, not the wrist. Lower the dumbbell with a controlled movement, not allowing gravity to take over.

Dumbbell chest press

With a dumbbell in each hand, lay down on a bench or the floor. Your upper arm should be at a 90 degree angle to your torso and your hands directly over your elbows. Move the dumbbells up while they come above your chest. With control move them back down to the starting position.

Lateral raise

With your arms down at your sides with a dumbbell in each hand, slowly raise your hands away from your body to the side, keeping your arm straight at the elbow. Once your hands reach shoulder level, slowly lower them back down to your sides.

Tricep kickbacks

With a dumbbell in each hand, flex at the ankles, knees, and hips so that your torso is leaning forward slightly. Bring your arms close to your body with your elbows back slightly. Start with your forearm in a 90 degree angle to your upper arm and slowly extend your forearm until your entire arm is straight and your triceps muscles are contracted. Slowly reverse the movement so that your arm is once again at a 90 degree angle.

Let me know what you think if you try it out! What’s your favorite upper body exercise?

As always, talk to your doctor before before beginning to workout. Honor your body and modify this workout as needed.

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Upper Body Workout