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Beginning Bodybuilding: Dumbbell & Upright Rows

Your blueprint for muscle-building success

Exercise 8: Dumbbell Upright Rows

Here’s an exercise that builds wide shoulders and powerful upper-back thickness.

‘Pull the dumbbells from your front thighs to your outer lower chest, and pause for a count at the top before lowering them to the arms-extended position.

‘Start with your hands about shoulder-width apart, pulling them wider at the top. Keep the movement smooth, feeling your deltoids contract as you raise the dumbbells.

Tip: Lean forward slightly to target the delts.

Note: Be very cautious if you try this movement with a bar. Due to the fixed hand position it can cause shoulder-joint impingement at the top of the range of motion in some people.

Get Started Routine
Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday

Squats 2 x 10*
Stiff-legged deadlifts 2 x 10
Standing calf raises 2 x 10
Bench presses 2 x 10
Pulldowns or chins 2 x 10
Bent-over barbell rows 2 x 10
Seated dumbbell presses 2 x 10
Dumbbell upright rows 2 x 10
Lying triceps extensions 2 x 10
Standing barbell curls 2 x 10

*2 x 10 means you do two sets of eight to 10 repetitions before you move on to the next exercise. Before those work sets, do one warmup set with about 80 percent of your work-set poundage.

Note: Rest one to 1 1/2 minutes between sets; use a watch or clock with a second hand to time your rest.

If you’ve been using our routine for a few months, you’re probably feeling pretty good and looking even better than you feel. If you’re bored with the program, you can move on to a split routine, on which you train your body over two workouts, working out on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. For an example of how to proceed, see the POF Four-Day Split on page 91 of IRONMAN’s Home Gym Handbook. If you haven’t started, we have three words for you: Get with it!

Break-in Regimen

Week 1: Pick poundages that you can easily get 10 reps with using perfect form’with absolutely no straining. Because the sets are light, you don’t need any warmup sets. Do two sets of each exercise, with a one-minute rest between sets. Also keep in mind that you do two sets of each exercise before you move on. For example, the first exercise is squats. Load the bar, do 10 reps, and rest one minute. Then do a second set. After your second set you rest as you set up for your next exercise, stiff-legged deadlifts.

Weeks 2 and 3: Add a little weight to all of your exercises, but make sure every set is still easy to perform. Never add more weight than you can handle in perfect form for the right number of reps. ALL Week 4: Use the first set as a warmup, and then go all out with a heavier poundage on your second set. Select a warmup weight that’s about 50 to 70 percent of what you’ll use for your heavy work set. For example, if you’re going to use 85 pounds on your heavy set of bench presses, your first set should be a warmup with around 45 pounds for 10 reps. Do the reps deliberately and slowly, counting 1,001, 1,002 on the upward and downward strokes. After your warmup set load the bar to 85 and do a heavy work set, pushing until you feel you can’t get another repetition with perfect form. If you don’t have a training partner or spotter, stop potentially dangerous exercises, such as bench presses, before you reach total fatigue. You don’t want to get stuck with the bar on your chest.

Beginning Bodybuilding Routine

Weeks 5 through 10: Do one light warmup set that’s about 70 to 80 percent of what you’ll use for your heavy work sets, and then add weight and do two heavy work sets, resting one to two minutes. Do that for each exercise. Try to get eight to 10 repetitions on each exercise. If you get more than 10 reps on your first set, add weight at your next workout.

Editor’s note: For more on this program, as well as exercise demonstrations, diet suggestions and intermediate routines’get a copy of the video ‘Beginning Bodybuilding,’ available from Home Gym Warehouse for $14.95 plus shipping. Call (800) 447-0008 or visit

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