All you need is a set of weights to carve out some serious upper back and shoulder definition – this Back and Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells is packed with killer moves to help sculpt your upper body. This workout includes both a superset and circuit-style version to help keep your body challenged and muscles toned. Side effects may include higher confidence levels in sleeveless tops as well as an increase in compliments about your killer physique. 

Exercises for back fat

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Reinventing the wheel with instagram-worthy exercises isn’t always necessary to get the tone and definition you’re looking for.

This back and shoulder workout takes a trip down memory lane with 8 traditional exercises, including a superset version for maximum burn.

A great way to keep your workouts interesting and prolong that “I’m so sick of my workout routine” feeling.

What’s great about this workout is you can do it ANYWHERE, and with minimal equipment. If you don’t have an old pair of dumbbells lying around (but really, who doesn’t?) treat yourself to a set of these, which I grabbed on Amazon and use for my home workouts all the time. Super affordable and easy to hide in the closet when you have guests.

To make this back and shoulder workout with dumbbells even more challenging, try these moves as a superset! 2 exercises back-to-back with no rest in between, 8-10 reps of each. Rest for 2 minutes, and then complete the next 2 with no rest. Continue until you’ve made it through all 8 exercises, working through 2 at a time and then repeat the cycle once more.

Not into the superset? You can also do this circuit style, one move after the other for a total of 3 circuits with 10 reps each.

Back and Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells 

Back and shoulder workout with dumbbells


Shoulder Press

Shoulder presses may seem simple, but this back and shoulder workout with dumbbells wouldn’t be complete without it – just keep two things in mind: as you bring your arms back down from the pressing motion, stop when the weights are at ear height. This is a good measure to make sure you’re lowering the weight enough before the next press. Also, NEVER lock your elbow at the top of the press. This can lead to injury, even with lighter weights, so always keep the elbow slightly bent when doing presses. Start with the weights just at ear height and palms facing forward, then press the weights up and above your shoulders.

Lateral Open

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand in front of your chest, palms still facing each other and elbows bent. Without bringing your biceps away from the sides of your body, pivot at the elbows as you “open” your forearms away from each other, as far as you can comfortably go.  Squeeze your deltoid muscles for a second in the fully open position. Slowly close back to the starting position.

Bent Over Row

Bend about 45 degrees forward at the waist, back straight and shoulders back. Holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides and palms facing each other, flex your upper back muscles to pull the weights up toward your waist. Slowly lower the weights back down, keeping your palms in the same position. Throughout this movement, remember that we’re not primarily targeting the arms/biceps, so really engage and flex those upper back muscles as you pull the weights up.

Delt Raise

Bend about 45 degrees forward at the waist, keeping your back flat and shoulders back. No arching of the back! Hold 2 dumbbells in front of you just above your knees, palms facing each other. Raise each dumbbell out to the side at the same time, keeping elbows slightly bent and flexing the upper back muscles. Slowly lower the weights back down.

Behind-the-Back Raise

Stand up straight with arms at your side and a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing behind you. Engaging your upper back muscles, slowly raise the weights behind you as far as you can comfortably go, pausing for a moment at the top of the movement. Lower the weights back to your sides and continue raising the weights behind you, being sure not to arch your back or hunch your shoulders.

Forward Punches

Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your chest, palms facing each other and biceps at your sides. Punch both hands forward at the same time, turning the weights until palms are facing the ground and arms are parallel. Be careful not to lock your elbows, then slowly lower the weights back down. Immediately go into the next rep.

Upright Row

Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs with palms facing the body. Pull the weights up until your upper arms are parallel to the ground and the weights are about chest height, flexing the shoulder muscles. Slowly lower the weights back down.

Planking Row

Get in a plank position on the ground, grasping onto a dumbbell in each hand and placed directly under your shoulders. Alternating sides, engage your upper back muscles to lift the weight up in a rowing motion, keeping your core stable and solid. Slowly lower back to the ground and repeat with the other side.

Be sure to pin this Back and Shoulder workout with dumbbells for later:

back and shoulder workout


And that’s a wrap! Incorporate these exercises into your weekly weight training routine and you’ll begin to see a noticeable difference in your back and shoulder muscles in noooo time flat. Now go get those gains! And for more upper body-shredding workouts, check out my free 3 week home weight lifting plan or this arm sculpting bicep and tricep workout!