9 Upper Body Exercises With Weights That Fitness Pros Love

Ready those dumbbells.

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When you do upper body exercises with weights, you’ll primarily focus on push and pull movements, says Shayra Brown, a personal trainer at Blink Fitness. Here are expert-approved moves that’ll strengthen your shoulders, chest, and upper back — do three sets of 10 reps each.

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Reverse Fly

Strengthening your back makes for a well-rounded workout, says Gretchen Raddatz, a master coach at Row House. With a dumbbell in each hand, hinge at the hips and slightly bend knees and elbows. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift the weights to the sides.

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Dumbbell Push Press

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. “Hold the dumbbells upright with the elbows tight at your sides,” Brown says. Turn wrists and palms toward your face, then press the dumbbells above your head. Lower slowly to strengthen your shoulders and upper back.

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Dumbbell Row

If you want to strengthen your upper back, core, and biceps, hinge forward at your hips and keep your back neutral. “Pull the weights up toward the chest, keeping the elbows close to the body,” Brown says. Imagine you’re pinching something with your shoulder blades.

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Shoulder Raises

Use a light weight here — you want to exercise your shoulders, not strain them. “With a slight bend at the elbows, lift the arms straight in front of the body,” Brown says. Keeping the same arm position and lift the weights out to your sides. That’s one rep.

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Chest Press

Push-ups aren’t the only way to build a strong chest. Brown recommends lying on the ground with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should face your legs. Squeeze your glutes and core. Exhale as you press toward the ceiling. Stabilize at the top, then slowly lower.

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Bicep Curls

To work your biceps, hold dumbbells at your sides with your palms up. “Squeeze your biceps and curl those weights up toward your armpits,” Raddatz says. Keep your elbows pinned to your sides and slowly lower.

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Overhead Triceps Extension

Grab two dumbbells and hold them together over your head, Raddatz says. “Lower the weights behind your head to the base of your neck, keeping them pushed together. Then raise them back up overhead. You should feel the burn in your triceps.”

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Arnold Press

To challenge your shoulders and upper back, hold weights at shoulder height with palms facing each other, Raddatz says. “Taking the elbows out wider, rotate the wrists so the palms face forward as you bring the weights up overhead." Reverse the move going down.

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Push-up With Row

“This dynamic exercise will work your chest and triceps in the push-up and the upper back with the row,” Raddatz says. Use your dumbbells as handles for a push-up. At the top of the move, pull one bell toward your chest. Perform another push-up and switch sides.