6 best free weight workouts to build upper-body strength

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Free weight training is one of the best ways to build strength and improve your fitness levels. These incredibly versatile free-weight exercises allow you to target specific areas of the body and eliminate imbalances. If you are in a routine and think you are not getting stronger, it is time to try free-weight exercises.
Knowing how to use it, is a completely different matter. But, if you want to get the most out of your workout, this is the only way to go. To get started, go through these basics of free strength training, as well as some great upper body workouts. And all you require is a weight bench and a pair of dumbbells.

What Is Free Weight Training?

The term free-weights refer to weights that are not machines. Thus, usually, a pair of dumbbells is one of the most versatile forms of free weight. But they are basically anything wherever your movement is not guided. This can make it difficult to use, especially compared to the resistance machines in the gym. In the long run, however, you can get a lot more out of it.

What Are the Benefits of Free Weights Against Machines?

There are many benefits to using free weights:

  • Versatile: Dumbbells and Barbells are very versatile. You can use it to target specific regions or multiple regions of the body at once. This makes the exercise more efficient.
  • Full Extension: Free weights do not limit your movements so that you can perform any workout with full muscle extension. This helps to optimize your training and enhance the quality of your workout.
  • Natural Movements: Everyone is built differently, and the way you move is also different. Machinery certainly affects the way you move. However, free weights allow you to move normally, which is best suited for building muscle and preventing injury.
  • Train your stabilizing muscles: Free weights are most demanding and allow you to train your stabilizing muscles simultaneously.
  • Avoid imbalances: Free weights not only allow you to move each side of your body independently, but they also help underline weaknesses. Therefore, during training, you could be more focused and avoid irregularity.
  • Perfect for Upper Body Workouts: Free weights are great for upper body exercises as you can use them to target your arms, shoulders, back, and chest. You can also adjust the weight load more easily, depending on the workout.
  • Can Also Be Used for the Lower Body: Dumbbells are great for exercises such as lunges, goblet squats, dumbbell deadlifts, and dumbbell hamstring curls.
  • Exercise at Home: You do not need much space to exercise at home. Get a set of hex dumbbells and an adjustable weight bench, and you’re ready.

What Are the Best Free Weight Exercises?

To get you started, here are the best free weight exercises for upper body strength:


The targeted muscles are the biceps, brachioradial is, and brachialis. Hold dumbbells in both hands by your hips. Bring your arms up at a 90-degree angle while keeping a slight bend in your elbow. Keep your wrists in a neutral position with your thumbs pointing upwards. Repeat the process.


The targeted muscles are delts, triceps, and traps. Place the weight bench in an upright position. Then sit with a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms to push the weights over your head. The dumbbells should be at your ear height with your arms at a 90-degree angle to your body. Push the weights up together until they meet over your head. Then lower them. Remember to keep your back straight and push your hips back into the bench.


The targeted muscles are the biceps and brachialis. Sit on the side of a bench with your legs at a 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and push your right upper arm into your right thigh. Curl the dumbbell in your right hand up with your forearm at a 90-degree angle to your leg. Curl the weight up to your chest and then lower it until your arm is almost straight. Repeat this process on the other side. 


The targeted muscles are pecs, delts, and triceps. Put your weight bench at a 45-degree angle. You can raise the seat rest as well to help you stay in the position during training. Sit back and arch your back with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet pressed into the ground. Bring your hands to a press position on the bench. Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle to your body, and the weights should be around your chest height. Bring the dumbbells up and towards each other so that they meet above your eye line. Now, repeat the process.


The targeted muscles are the triceps and delts. Place the weight bench in a flat position and lie with your feet firmly on the floor. Extend one arm at a time to help focus. Hold the dumbbell and stretch your arm over your head. You can place the other hand on your hip or the bench next to you. Keep your elbow close to your ear and push the weight up to be against your eye line. Then lower it so that it is behind your head while your triceps are extended. Your hand should be in a neutral position with your thumb pointing down. Repeat on the other side.


The targeted muscles are delts, traps, and rhomboids. Stand with a slight curve in your knees. Raise your chest, and then lower your upper body, almost parallel to the floor. Make sure your spine is straight. With a weight in each hand, lower your arms so that they are just below your shoulders. Keep your neck in line with your spine, so your eyes are on the floor. Tighten your shoulder blades together. Then, with your palms facing each other, raise your arms as high as possible. Now, repeat this process.

The Takeaway


Incorporate these weight-free exercises in your adaptive routine when you cannot go to the gym, are traveling around, or need quick upper-body strength training. These moves not only increase your overall strength but also reduce your risk of injury, create a more symmetrical physique, and improve your core strength for daily efficient fitness.


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