It’s not uncommon that exercise enthusiasts will focus on their triceps, biceps and the abdominal for body definition goals, and that's great. What is quickly forgotten, however, is that there's so much more too. It's not stuck to huge gym workouts either! There are even upper body exercises you can do in a home workout!

The chest, back and shoulders, in particular, are all huge areas of muscle, and they deserve the attention as well! Having an understanding of the different muscle groups and how they function not only helps success but helps with your overall goals and planning your exercise training regime too. That's vital information.

Don’t feel as if you’re restricted because it's an upper-body workout from home either. There's a variety of home exercises that you can do, with or without weights, that help you achieve your fitness goals. Below are some arm and upper body toning exercises to get you started at home.

Arms and Upper Body Toning Workout

Bicep Curls

person performing a biceps curl

A popular exercise, bicep curls are simple and straight-forward to perform. It’s an effective exercise to define your arms, as well as help keep motion and functionality in your day-to-day arm movements. Bicep curls can also support your back and shoulder muscles, despite being an isolation exercise.

When performing bicep curls, choose dumbbells you feel comfortable lifting, but will also train your muscles. Aim to complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this exercise. As always, increase and decrease the weight accordingly.

Hammer Curls

Woman doing hammer curls

Hammer curls are very similar to bicep curls; the main difference being that you rotate your arms so your palms are facing inwards. This exercise focuses on your biceps, as well as your brachioradialis, located in your forearm. Hitting the same muscles from different angles is an awesome way to slingshot toning too.

Again, chose a weight you feel comfortable with, preferably keep the same dumbbell weight you choose for bicep curls. Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Overhead Press

Woman shoulder pressing

The overhead press is a great upper body exercise that you may not have considered in a home workout, but you should. It can help strengthen your core and your posture, as well as your deltoids massively. This exercise requires weights, such as a pair of dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell. It’s an effective exercise to target your front rear and delt shoulders and improve upper body strength in one home workout.

If you’re new to the overhead press, stand in an upright position holding a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height. Your palms need to be positioned facing forwards and your elbows bent.

Press the weight overhead until your arms are fully extended. It’s important to ensure your back remains flat throughout. Lower the weight back to the starting position and complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Bicycle Crunch

exercise example

This exercise doesn’t require the use of weights and it’s an effective way to target your abdominals and increase your heart rate, which is great for anyone looking to tone this area.

To perform this exercise, lie flat on your back and place your hands at the side of your head. At this point, your legs will be straight. Slightly raise your head and shoulders off the floor and pull one knee towards your chest.

Bring the opposite elbow towards the knee whilst twisting your upper body. Move your elbow and knee back to the beginning and repeat using the other knee and elbow. Remember, the aim is to create a pedalling movement with your legs, whilst twisting your torso.

Try to complete this exercise at a fast pace for 30 seconds, repeating 3 times.

Triceps Dips

person performing a triceps dip on a park bench

This exercise does exactly what it says on the tin – works your triceps muscles by completing ‘dip’ movements. Triceps dips also target different areas of your arms and upper body by engaging your lower back, chest, shoulders and forearms.

If you have an aerobic box at home, great. If not, you can use something similar, like your sofa. It’s a straightforward exercise to complete. Put your palms on the aerobic box behind you; straighten your legs with your heels on the floor.

Your arms should remain in a straight position at this point. Bending your elbows, use your arms to lower your body. Push your body back up to the beginning. Make sure your palms are positioned well, as they’ll be helping to keep your upper body steady. Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this exercise.

Crunches

Woman doing crunches

Another common exercise completed by fitness enthusiasts. Crunches predominately target your abdominal muscles but will also strengthen your core. They are great for developing muscles and creating definition.

To perform crunches, lie on your back with your legs bent. Place your hands on the side of your head and lift your head and shoulders off of the floor. Lower them back and repeat. If this is your first time performing crunches, aim to complete up to 25 reps and increase the reps as you get stronger.

Floor Dumbbell Presses

Woman bench pressing

The dumbbell press is used mostly for the growth of chest, tricep and shoulder muscles build through the movement of pushing dumbbells upwards away from the body.

The exercise is performed by laying down on the floor as to prevent the arms going below the shoulders on the relaxation phase, before then pushing the arms upwards until practically straight, and then bringing back down. Once an ideal weight is found, the exercise should be consisting of 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Dumbbell Rows

Woman doing dumbbell rows

Dumbbell rows are used to work the mid to upper back muscles such as the lats and traps, through the pulling of the dumbbell to the body.

The row is carried out by bending the back to around 80-degree angle, ideally with something to lift and rest your bent knee onto for balance and support, before pulling the dumbbell toward your torso, before relaxing and lowing it back downwards to a fully extended arm, and repeated 8-12 times for 3 sets.

There is a variety of arms and upper body toning exercise that can be done at home, but we hope these ones help get you started. If you’re looking to gain full body definition, combine these exercises with legs and lower body ones.

Whether you’re focusing on the lower body one day and upper the next, we recommend completing 3-4, 30-45 minute sessions per week.

For more toning workouts you can do at home, check out some of these:

Legs and Butt Kettle Bell Toning Workout

6 Leg and Lower Body Toning Exercises for Any Workout

7 Bodyweight Lower Body Toning Exercises

Or, take a look at our full guide on toning up at home!

Exercise.co.uk dumbbells


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.