You only need 10 minutes and this upper body and abs workout to build strength and sculpt muscle

Woman performing renegade rows using a pair of dumbbells by a river in a plank position
(Image credit: Getty)

This 10-minute upper body and abs workout targets the muscles in your arms, back, shoulders, and core muscles. If you want a quick upper body workout that you can do from home, here’s one to bookmark. 

This home workout from Vikki Power only requires one pair of dumbbells, but you can substitute them for any weight you can hold securely (I personally prefer working with kettlebells). Some of the best adjustable dumbbells for home workouts are great for switching up and down quickly between weights for upper body exercises and ab exercises. 

You’ll follow a 40-second on and 20-second off workout style, which is plenty of time to build up the intensity. For beginners, start light and choose a weight you can maintain good form over 40 seconds, and increase the weight if you’re familiar with the exercises. 

a photo of a woman on an exercise mat holding a dumbbell

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Follow the video and check your form for each exercise before you begin. The workout starts with an arm focus, including push-ups, lateral raises, tricep kickbacks, bent-over rows, and renegade rows before you move on to ab exercises. 

We cover how to do push-ups here, and you could add one of these 5 chest day variations to make this tougher (I regularly use diamond push-ups when I want to work my triceps harder). We also cover how to do a dumbbell row here — although the version we cover is a single-arm variation, the method is the same.  

Watch the 10-minute upper body and abs workout by Vikki Power to build strength and sculpt muscle

During the working periods, try to keep your form tight and core engaged at all times. Power gives some hints throughout, but you won’t find her talking through it, which leaves it down to you to keep a close eye on your body. Listen to your lower back — if it’s speaking to you (and not in a good way), squeeze your stomach muscles, adjust your form, and decrease the weight if needed. 

The ab exercises are heavy on the crunches. If you suffer from lower back pain, this might be a no-go zone for you, but you can also find out the difference between sit-ups vs crunches here (spoiler — sit-ups are better at working your hip flexor muscles). 

We also cover some of the best ab exercises for sculpting a stronger core if you need the inspiration to switch any moves out. Adding a dumbbell will increase the workload on your core muscles and are an excellent way for gym bunnies to squeeze extra from the exercises. 

The crunches in this upper body and abs workout work in different planes, including twisting motions that will effectively target your oblique muscles. Your abdominal muscles — namely the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis — will be doing most of the work during the reverse crunches. 

The move requires your deeper core muscles to engage as you extend your legs, then pull your knees toward your chest. Try to flatten your lower back to the ground by tilting your pelvis toward your spine, which should give your back more support.

According to research, a traditional crunch creates flexion and extension in the spine, causing ‘relatively high local pressure on the vertebrae and intervertebral discs,’ which could cause pain.

MDPI and ACS Style

For most people, the traditional crunch exercise isn’t a problem and kicks up an unforgiving burn in the core muscles, but if you have any suspected back injuries, always consult a personal trainer first.


Next: Try to hit the major muscle groups in your upper and lower body several times per week. We swear by these best dumbbell chest workouts and this 7-move kettlebell leg workout if you need ideas.    

Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.