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15-Minute Upper-Body Strength Workout With Cass Olholm

Get Your Heart Rate Up and Build Strength With This Intense 15-Minute Upper-Body Dumbbell Workout

Ready to work your arms, chest, and back? This 15-minute upper-body strength workout by Sweat app trainer Cass Olholm is your workout for day 13 of the Sweat Two Weeks to Strong Workout Plan, and it's focused on improving strength and endurance in your chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back. Plus, the AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workout structure challenges you to repeat each move as many times as you can within a 45-second window, which is guaranteed to tax your cardiovascular system and get you sweating. Grab a pair of dumbbells and check out the full workout below, then follow along with the video above!

15-Minute Upper-Body Strength Workout

Equipment needed: A yoga mat or comfortable floor, and a set of medium dumbbells. (Here's how to choose the right weight.)

Directions: Start with the warmup listed below, then start the AMRAP circuit. You'll do 45 seconds of each exercise followed by 15 seconds of rest before moving on to the next exercise. Once you finish the last exercise and rest, go back to the top and repeat for three rounds total. After the third round, complete the cooldown and stretch session listed below.

Warmup

Exercise Name Time/Reps
Mountain Climber 20 seconds
Push-Up to Downward Dog 3 reps
Wrist Rotation 20 seconds
Arm Swing 10 reps
Arm Rotation 10 reps forward, 10 reps back

Mountain Climber:

  • Place both hands on the yoga mat shoulder-width apart and both feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Gently pull your abs toward your spine to engage your core. This is your starting position.
  • Keeping your left foot on the floor, bend your right knee and bring it in towards your chest.
  • Extend your right leg to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • This counts as one rep. Continue alternating between your right and left feet for 20 seconds.

Push-Up to Downward Dog

  • Place both hands on the yoga mat shoulder-width apart and both feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Gently pull your abs toward your spine to engage your core. This is your starting position.
  • Keep your spine straight as you bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the mat until your arms form two 90-degree angles.
  • Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position.
  • Complete three push-ups.
  • As you complete your third push-up, elevate your hips and straighten your arms to create an upside-down V-shape. With knees slightly bent, press your heels into the mat and tilt your tailbone upwards. Open your chest and create space between your shoulders and ears by drawing your shoulder blades down and back.
  • Lower your hips to return to the starting position.
  • This completes one rep. Repeat for three reps.

Wrist Rotation:

  • Plant both feet on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Clasp your palms together, fingers interlaced with your hands a few inches in front of your chest and elbows bent. This is your starting position.
  • Keeping your arms still, rotate your wrists to "draw" a circle with your knuckles, making the circle as large as possible.
  • Continue tracing circles in the same direction for 10 seconds, then switch directions for the remaining 10 seconds.

Arm Swing:

  • With your arms by your sides, plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
  • Gently swing both arms forwards and across your body.
  • Keep your momentum as you swing both arms backwards, reaching as far behind you as feels comfortable.
  • Continue alternating, completing 10 forward swings and 10 backward swings.

Arm Rotation:

  • With your arms by your sides, plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
  • Gently swing both arms forward in a large circle, maintaining control of the movement and your breathing.
  • Continue tracing circles forward for 10 reps, then switch directions and go backward for 10 reps.

AMRAP Circuit: 3 Rounds

Exercise Name Time
Alternating Shoulder Press 45 seconds
Rest 15 seconds
Zottman Curl 45 seconds
Rest 15 seconds
Hand Release Push-Up 45 seconds
Rest 15 seconds
Bent-Over Row 45 seconds
Rest 15 seconds
High Plank 45 seconds
Rest 15 seconds

Alternating Shoulder Press:

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. Extend both arms overhead, holding the dumbbells in a neutral grip (palms facing inwards). This is your starting position.
  • Without moving your left arm, bend your right elbow to lower the dumbbell down to chin height. Keep your core pulled in toward your spine and your back straight as you move.
  • Using the muscles in your shoulder and arm, extend your right elbow to return to the starting position. Avoid "shrugging" by drawing your shoulder blades down and back.
  • Repeat with your left arm.
  • This counts as one rep. Do as many reps as you can with proper form in 45 seconds, alternating sides.

Zottman Curl:

  • Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand in an underhand grip (palms facing away from your body) with arms extended on either side, but slightly in front of your body. This is your starting position.
  • Bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells in towards your chest, ensuring that your elbows remain in close contact with the sides of your body.
  • As your hands reach the top position, rotate your wrist so that you are holding the dumbbells in an overhand grip (palms facing down or away from your body).
  • Extend your elbows to lower the dumbbells. Rotate the dumbbells so that you are holding them in an underhand grip to return to the starting position.
  • This counts as one rep. Do as many reps as you can with proper form in 45 seconds.

Hand Release Push-Up:

  • Place both hands on the yoga mat shoulder-width apart and both feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Gently pull your abs toward your spine to engage your core. This is your starting position.
  • While maintaining a straight spine, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the mat keeping your elbows close to your body until your arms form two 90-degree angles. Lower down until your chest is on the ground.
  • Once your chest is firmly on the ground, release your hands from the floor and pull them toward the ceiling by drawing your shoulder blades together.
  • Place your hands on the ground back in the same push-up position.
  • Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position, maintaining a strong core and neutral spine throughout the movement.
  • This counts as one rep. Do as many reps as you can with proper form in 45 seconds.

Bent-Over Row:

  • Plant both feet on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward. While maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward from your hips so that your torso is parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and pull your core in toward your spine. Extend your arms directly below your chest. This is your starting position.
  • Bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells in towards your body, ensuring your elbows remain in close contact with the sides of your body. You should feel a small squeeze between your shoulder blades.
  • Extend your elbows to lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position.
  • This counts as one rep. Do as many reps as you can with proper form in 45 seconds.

High Plank:

  • Start by placing your hands firmly on the mat, ensuring that your wrists and elbows are directly below your shoulders. Extend both legs behind you and elevate your hips off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet.
  • Brace your abdominals and ensure that your spine is straight. Ensure that you press away from the floor and keep your ribcage elevated.
  • Hold this position for 45 seconds.

Cooldown

Exercise Name Time
Lats (Mermaid) 20 seconds per side
Triceps 20 seconds per side
Shoulders 20 seconds per side
Rhomboids 20 seconds
Pecs 20 seconds

Lats (Mermaid):

  • Begin in a seated position. Bend your knees and position your feet together firmly on the mat. Using your left hand, tuck your left leg behind you so that your shin and the top of your foot are resting on the mat. Release your right leg and place your shin and the outside of your right foot on the mat, resting your foot on the inside of your left thigh. Release your left arm and rest your hand on your left foot. This is your starting position.
  • Inhale. Lengthen your spine to sit up tall and reach your right arm towards the ceiling. At the same time, release your right arm and rest your hand on your left knee.
  • Exhale. Reach your right arm over to your left side to lengthen the right side of your body, ensuring that both glutes remain on the mat.
  • Each time you exhale, reach further over to your left side to increase the stretch. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then repeat the stretch for 20 seconds on the other side.

Triceps:

  • Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart with your arms by your sides.
  • Lift your right arm overhead and behind your back, placing your hand between your shoulder blades.
  • Place your left hand on your right elbow and gently press down to stretch your right triceps.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, then repeat the stretch for 20 seconds on the other side. Breathe deeply throughout.

Shoulders:

  • Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. Bring your right arm across your body and place your left hand on your right forearm, gently pulling it towards your chest. Draw your shoulder blades down and back to avoid "shrugging."
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, then repeat the stretch for 20 seconds on the other side. Breathe deeply throughout.

Rhomboids:

  • Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart with your arms by your sides.
  • Place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh and your left hand on the outside of your right thigh.
  • Draw your chest away from your thighs to separate your shoulder blades and round through your spine. Avoid "shrugging" by drawing your shoulder blades down and back. Each time you exhale, draw your chest further away from your thighs to increase the stretch through your upper back.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.

Pecs:

  • Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. Bring your hands together behind your body and interlace your fingers.
  • Gently extend your arms and pull your hands away from your body, allowing your shoulders to retract and open up your chest.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.
Image Source: Sweat App
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