You Only Need Two Moves And Two Dumbbells To Pack On Upper-Body Muscle

You Only Need Two Moves And Two Dumbbells To Pack On Upper-Body Muscle

Unsure how to leave the gym in 30 minutes? Build upper-body muscle with dumbbells.

WIT Fitness head coach Jordan Shelley's session follows CrossFit's 21-15-9 pattern, but bodybuilders shouldn't be scared off. Shelley has applied the format to two hypertrophy training staples—the dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell bent-over row—to help you gain back, shoulder, and arm strength, muscle, and endurance.

Like CrossFit Cindy, this workout targets antagonistic (opposing) muscle areas with complementing movements. Overhead presses work shoulders and triceps, while bent-over rows work back and biceps. For an efficient workout, one muscle group rests while the other works. Imagine a single-gym push/pull workout.  

Shelley recommends this solitary class if you're short on time. It's not exclusive. If you have additional time, start with a strength piece or add steady cardio at the end. Start a timer and do 21 reps of each exercise in a superset, followed by 15 and nine reps. In a race against the clock, press and row with the same dumbbells and break just as needed. 

Shelley advises choosing a weight that lets you accomplish eight to 10 tight dumbbell overhead press reps without stopping. “This can develop upper-body musculature when loads are chosen well and rest is applied.”  Use a weight heavy enough to break the rounds of 21 and 15 into at least two sets to get the muscle-building stimulation. 

1A Dumbbell shoulder press 3 sets 21/15/9 Stand with dumbbells by your shoulders and palms facing front. Press dumbbells overhead with your spine neutral and core tight. Controlledly lower the dumbbells. 

1B Dumbbell bent-over row 3 sets 21/15/9 Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing you. Hinge forward at your hips and push your butt backward like a Romanian deadlift until your chest is 30–45° from the floor. Bring the dumbbells to your stomach, elbows above your torso. Lower dumbbells slowly.

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