Forget pull-ups — 6 dumbbell exercises to build a strong and muscular upper body like Bridgerton’s Colin Bridgerton

one half of the photo is a man performing a dumbbell row on a bench and the other half shows Luke Newton on a red carpet
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The town is abuzz and it's all thanks to the much talked about glow up of Colin Bridgerton, portrayed by British actor Luke Newton, in the latest season of "Bridgerton". Gone is the boyish charm of earlier seasons, Colin has returned from his travels a figure of strength with a set of broad shoulders and muscular arms. And people want to know what led to his transformation.

Luckily for us, the trainers at The Gym Group have stepped in to help. They’ve provided a six-move, dumbbell-only workout to guide us toward achieving a stronger upper body inspired by Colin Bridgerton. 

Of course, completing one upper body workout with a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells isn't going to magically shape you a pair of Colin-esque arms. Building muscle and definition on the body takes a lot of commitment and consistency and results will vary from body to body. 

However, maintaining realistic fitness goals and incorporating working on some of the best dumbbell exercises into your regular fitness routine will help build upper body muscle and improve muscle definition.

What are the six dumbbell exercises?

Grab your dumbbells, turn on your best workout headphones, queue up Bridgerton's iconic orchestral covers of your favorite pop songs, and let's work up a sweat.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

How To Do A Dumbbell Incline Press - YouTube How To Do A Dumbbell Incline Press - YouTube
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  1. Adjust the bench to around a 45-degree angle.
  2. Sit on the edge of the bench, grip hold of the DB and then rock back into the bench. Keep a neutral spin throughout and feet flat on the floor.
  3. With the dumbbells now on either side of your chest, drive through your elbows until your arms are out straight above the chest.   
  4. Reverse the movement by slowly lowering the dumbbell back to the side of the chest by bending from the elbow. 

Incline Dumbbell Fly

How to Do an Incline Dumbbell Fly | Chest Workout - YouTube How to Do an Incline Dumbbell Fly | Chest Workout - YouTube
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  1. Keep the bench at a 45-degree angle.  
  2. Sit on the edge of the bench, grip hold of the dumbbell and then rock back into the bench. Keep a neutral spin throughout and feet flat on the floor. 
  3. Press the dumbbells up above the chest and turn your wrists inwards so your palms face each other. With a slight bent in the elbow, take your arms out wide away from the body pivoting from the shoulder joint. Then drive back up focusing to use your chest muscles.  
  4. When taking the weights out wide, I want you to go through a full range of movement but safe enough you can return the weights to the original position.  

Dumbbell Single Arm Row

Single Arm Dumbbell Row - YouTube Single Arm Dumbbell Row - YouTube
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  • Using a flat bench, place the same hand and knee on the bench and the opposite foot to the side. Make sure we keep a straight back.  
  • A dumbbell should be directly below the free hand. Grip hold of the dumbbell and drive your arm up trying to keep the elbow close to your hip. Go through a full range of movement without twisting your body. 
  • Slowly lower to dumbbell to full extension and repeat. Once completed 8 reps swap sides.  

Dumbbell Military Press

Dumbbell Military Press - Fitness Gym Training - YouTube Dumbbell Military Press - Fitness Gym Training - YouTube
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  • Stand directly over the dumbbells, feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Grip the dumbbells with an overhand grip but with your thumbs next to your fingers and stand up straight, then pull the dumbbells up towards your collar bone pushing the elbows slightly forward.
  • Push the dumbbells up directly over your head while focusing on pushing through your elbows and keeping your abs braced until your arms are straight.
  • Slowly bring the dumbbells back down to your collarbone while bending from the elbows again.    

Dumbbell lateral raises

  1. Standing tall with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inwards. Roll your shoulders back and keep your chest up.   
  2. Drive the dumbbells up until level with your shoulders trying to keep your arms as straight as possible and without rocking your body for momentum.  
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells to the original position and repeat.   

Press-up

  • Lay flat on the floor, take your hands to shoulder width apart and balance on your tip toes. Your shoulders should be directly over your hands.  
  • Slowly lower your body until you have at least a 90-degree bend in your elbow, do this by bending from your elbows and keeping your core tight so we maintain a flat back throughout.  
  • Push yourself back up by pushing through the elbows until your arms are straight.
  • To make this exercise easier drop to your knees. To make it harder perform a plyo press-up by pushing yourself up with greater force, so your upper body leaves the floor for a split second.   

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.