The 12 Best Upper Body Dumbbell Exercises For Building Muscle

There are so many effective dumbbell movements for your upper body hypertrophy sessions that we couldn’t add them all to this list. This is condensed down to just 12 movements that can make up the bulk of your upper body training. Moving consistently through these exercises will enable results in both muscle gain and strength, so get moving and try out the tri-set provided at the bottom.

2 min read
Sean's profile
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
09/06/22
Last updated
04/07/22
In This Resource
  • Benefits Of Dumbbell Upper Body Training
  • Effective Tool For Muscle Growth
  • Improved Aesthetics
  • Increase Strength
  • Training Considerations
  • Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth) Protocols
  • Training Splits
  • Sample Dumbbell Upper Body Tri-Set Workout

Benefits Of Dumbbell Upper Body Training

Effective Tool For Muscle Growth

Dumbbells are probably second only to the barbell for building muscle. They allow overload through almost every movement pattern and don’t require as much stabilisation as the kettlebell making them more effective in some instances. If your goal is to gain muscle, you will likely have a large number of dumbbell exercises in your programme.

Improved Aesthetics

If you’re just trying to look better naked or you’re preparing for a show, muscle gain will be a key part of improving your aesthetics and dumbbell upper body exercises will be one of the main tools you use to achieve this aim.

Increase Strength

Using heavy dumbbells is a little less effective than heavy barbells, that being said they can still be a very useful tool to increase strength. Also the muscle gained through the hypertrophy training will help with increases of strength.

Training Considerations

Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth) Protocols

Using high volume through each movement pattern will be crucial to gaining muscle. This will mean doing 8-12+ working sets for each movement pattern / muscle group. When writing your training plan, ensure that each muscle group is getting the volume it requires to grow.

Training Splits

There are many different ways you can organize and structure your training, the main two being either the upper and lower split and the full body split. There are many factors that go into choosing which one of these suits you best including:

  • Training Age
  • Preference / Enjoyment
  • Other Activities (running, swimming etc)
  • Training frequency
  • Using a full body split is probably the most effective as it allows you to be more dynamic and adapt to which muscle groups need attention. That being said, if you love running and would rather do an upper lower split timed around your different runs, that makes perfect sense too.

    Sample Dumbbell Upper Body Tri-Set Workout

    Complete 3 rounds

    1. DB Strict Press

    Complete 12 repetitions

    2. Alternating Bicep Curls

    Complete 15 repetitions

    3. DB Tricep Extensions

    Complete 8 repetitions

    Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below, or try our Programme.

    Sean Klein

    Sean Klein's Signature

    Build Foundational Strength.
    Without The Planning.

    By learning from your training experience, past workouts and available equipment, Programme builds your most optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.