Two dumbbells and this floor workout to build serious upper body strength

Doing exercises in a kneeling position actually isolates your upper body muscles more

Woman doing dumbbell floor workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to doing strength exercises for our upper body, the majority of them are either done with a weight bench, or performed standing. But have you ever considered doing them from a kneeling position? It’s an effective way to improve your strength, balance and form. Plus, they're ideal for those living in small spaces, so grab yourself a pair of dumbbells and give this 20 minute workout a go.

While some may deem this ‘lazy’, there's a good reason for kneeling exercises. By taking your lower body out of the equation, your upper body is completely isolated and challenged a lot more, as is your core and glutes. When standing upright, people can sometimes use their lower body to help them perform exercises. For example, with a dumbbell overhead press you may bend at the knees for extra momentum to thrust the dumbbells above your head, whereas doing this from a kneeling position puts far more focus on the shoulders and triceps.

You’ve got two supersets to get through in this workout, one combination exercise (two exercises combined into one movement) and one core exercise – so six exercises altogether. You’re going to do eight to 10 reps on each side (where applicable) and aim to complete three to four rounds of the workout in total. Remember, supersets are where exercises are performed back-to-back with no rest. Here’s your workout:

Superset 1

  • Alternating shoulder press neutral grip (palms facing inwards)
  • Skull-crushers (lying down)

Combination exercise

  • Bicep curl into upright row

Superset 2

  • Kneeling bent-over row
  • Alternating floor press

Core finisher

Don't forget to follow this with a lower body workout at some point during the week, as you don't want unproportionate body. This four-move lower body workout develops strength and will improve your stability. Alternatively, if you're pushed for time you could opt for a full-body workout, as these target all the major muscle groups in your body, like this quick four-move workout, that'll help you build muscle, improve hip mobility and burn fat.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.