The Best At Home Upper Body Exercises with Dumbbells

With the massive amount of exercise content on YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, finding the best at home upper body exercises seems daunting. If you’re like me and are exercising at home during this crazy time in the world, chances are you have probably spent a great deal of time searching online for follow along at home workouts. The fact that we can access literally any type of at home workout possible is pretty amazing, but it can lead to overwhelm and a lot of time wasted combing through to find the best ones.

But fear not, you can create your own at home upper body workout. All you need is a set of dumbbells (or big shampoo bottles or water bottles), and a small space to exercise. If you’re looking to get a starter set of dumbbells, check out this AmazonBasics Neoprene set I found.

This post is not sponsored but some of the links in the post might be affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and make a qualifying purchase, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost for you. Please know that I only recommend products that I use personally.

Woman holding dumbbells outside on a balcony.

The Best At Home Upper Body Exercises with Dumbbells

Here are my choices for the best at home upper body exercises with dumbbells. I used either a 5lb or 8lb set of dumbbells, depending on the exercise. If you want to put all these exercises together for a complete upper body workout, I suggest structuring the workout as 45 seconds work and 15 seconds rest like I did in the full length At Home Arm Workout Video.

Be sure to press play under the description of each exercise for the full demonstration.

Bicep Curls

Just straight up bicep curls. Make it more challenging by bringing your elbows forward and holding them there for the entire set.

Overhead Tricep Extensions

When doing overhead tricep extensions, I like to use my opposite hand to hold my elbow in place and when lowering the dumbbell, I aim for the opposite shoulder than the arm I’m extending.

Front & Lateral Raises

I like doing these two upper body exercises together because it requires less space than doing lateral deltoid raises with both arms. If you’re having trouble feeling the lateral raises in your shoulder when doing the exercises together, do them separately for an increased mind-body connection.

Half Bicep Curl – Bottom 0-90 Degrees / Top 90-180 Degrees

Start in the same position you would for bicep curls, but instead of lifting the dumbbells up to your shoulders, stop at 90 degrees and then lower back to the starting position, completing the bottom half of a bicep curl. Curl from 0 to 90 degrees for 45 seconds, take a 15 second rest, then lift from 90 degrees (or forearms parallel to the floor) to your shoulders at 180 degrees, completing the top half of a bicep curl for 45 seconds.

Bent Over Tricep Extensions

Also known as Tricep Kickbacks, Bent Over Tricep Extensions make my triceps burn!! If you like feeling that burn, extend your arms as slowly as possible and hold your arms at extension for three seconds every rep.

Shoulder Press

When pushing low weight like the 8lb dumbbells I used for this exercise, a strict shoulder press is the most effective. Strict means you engage your glutes and quads and nothing but your arms and shoulders are working during the exercise.

Cross Body Curl

Start with the dumbbell out in front of you slightly and curl it up toward the opposite shoulder, keeping the dumbbell out in front of you for the entire set. If you want more of a challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand and alternate arms for 45 seconds being sure to keep the dumbbells out in front of you.


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More Upper Body Exercise Videos from Active Ontario

If you liked these exercises, check out the full length At Home Arm Workout Video.

Lower Body Exercise Videos from Active Ontario

These at home upper body exercises can easily be mixed and matched to create your own custom routine. Check out the Active Ontario LEG & BOOTY Band Workout and At Home No Equipment LEG & BOOTY Workout for pairing options.