February 17, 2021 3 min read
Dumbbells and kettlebells are two of the best pieces of fitness equipment we can use.
They offer incredible versatility, we can use them in various training styles, and we can do dozens of unique and effective exercises with them.
Plus, they are relatively affordable and don’t take up much space, meaning we can get them for home use without much issue.
But, if you’re just getting started or are looking for the best and most time-effective ways to use these pieces of equipment, you might feel a bit confused. After all, there are so many options to pick from.
Below, we’ll go over five of the best dumbbell and kettlebell exercises for upper body strength.
Let’s dive in.
While often seen as a metabolic conditioning exercise, the kettlebell swing is fantastic for developing a strong upper body. Because of the movement pattern, almost every muscle group in the upper body has to work to keep the kettlebell balanced and in line.
Specifically, the movement trains your biceps, triceps, shoulders, upper back, trapezius, lats, lower back, rhomboids, scapular muscles, rectus abdominis, and more.
The better you get at this movement, the stronger your upper body will become.
The dumbbell floor press is a fantastic chest exercise that also helps you build impressive pushing strength.
Due to your body’s position, you cannot use leg drive to get the weight up, which means that you only get to rely on your natural pushing strength. The more you do this movement, the stronger your shoulders, chest, and triceps will become.
The movement stops the range of motion before your elbow dips beneath your torso, which helps keep your shoulders in a strong and safe position.
The overhead press is another valuable exercise that develops your pushing strength. Unlike the floor press, this movement emphasizes vertical pushing, which means that it primarily works your shoulders and upper chest.
It complements the dumbbell floor press, which is a horizontal push and helps you develop more complete pushing strength and musculature.
Plus, the overhead press also involves your core musculature when done from a standing position, which helps you develop even more upper body strength and stability.
Single-arm dumbbell rows are a fantastic exercise for strengthening your back, developing your lats, and working on symmetry.
Movements like barbell rows and pull-ups are great, but they can sometimes lead to overcompensation, which favors one side and ignores the other. As a result, one side is stronger and more muscular, where the other remains weaker and smaller.
Dumbbell rows help prevent this from happening and offer an extended range of motion, which allows for great stretching and contracting of your lats.
The pullover is a popular gym exercise that does a fantastic job of strengthening your lats and chest. It also works your shoulders, triceps, and core musculature.
The best part is, you can do it with a kettlebell or dumbbell - whichever feels better.
The pullover does a great job of stretching your lats - much more than most back exercises. It also stretches and develops the long head of your tricep, which crosses the shoulder joint.
Some researchers and experts also consider the pullover a posture-correcting exercise, thanks to its effects on the back musculature.
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