For the sake of simplicity, upper body weight workouts are often discussed in terms of a pair of exercises: push ups and bench presses. While these are two of the most common exercises, there are many other exercises that will help build up your biceps, triceps, forearms, chest, and shoulders. In fact, there are so many variations of exercises for the upper body that it would be impossible to mention them all here.

One of the easiest variations of an upper body weight workout is to focus on using dumbbells for the shoulders. Dumbbells allow you to work out the shoulders and upper back more than would be possible if you used barbells. The rule of thumb is that for every ten pounds you lift with dumbbells, you should also be lifting one pound with your free weight arms (for reference, this is based on your body weight).

There are many other advantages to using dumbbells to complete your upper body weight workout routine. First, because you use free weights, you are forced to control your form which is important if you want to get the most effectiveness out of your workout. This is different from when you use machines where you have no control over your form. Additionally, because you use dumbbells, you can complete an upper body workout routine much faster since the weights are providing resistance all through the exercise motion. Machines can often leave you frustrated because they are only working half of the muscle at a time which can make your workout take longer than it should.

There are a couple of other great upper body workout routine options that are quite easy to accomplish and really provide some serious shaping for your shoulders. The first is to curl the dumbbells up towards your head and bring them back down again, finishing with a strong arch at the top of your back. This is a great exercise to complete because the tension that you are applying to the dumbbells provides a tremendous amount of force to your upper body. You can do this several sets of reps and each set will help sculpt and tighten your shoulders. In addition, doing these dumbbells in this manner is incredibly easy because you don’t add any extra weight and since you don’t have to change grips, you are not cheating.

Another great upper body exercise that provides tremendous shoulder and arm strength is to simply hold the dumbbells above your head and bring them back down, completing one rep of each side. The key to performing these reps correctly is to keep your hip distance consistent. That means you need to start out with your feet shoulder width apart, then as you reach the bottom of your last rep, you bend at the hips to form a straight line between the feet and the floor. Holding the dumbbells above your head and bringing them back down in this fashion should provide a tremendous amount of upper body strength, including a powerful overhead press.

For even more upper body strength and muscle-building success you can perform a variation of the overhead press with your arms down over your eyes. This is commonly referred to as a triceps extension. To perform this exercise simply take the dumbbells that you were using above your head and position them in front of your knees. From there, just extend your arms as far away from your head as possible, squeezing the bar at the top of your chest as you do so for maximum contraction.