10-Minute Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

10-minute Upper Body Workout using Dumbbells

Gahh it’s been forever since I’ve posted! Which is weird because I have been CRANKING out content over the last two weeks. Photographing and writing it, anyway. Publishing … not so much. The lighting in today’s video and workout pics is kinda brutal (rookie mistake) but you’re just going to deal with it OKAY??! 😉

Nothing too fancy about this workout, but foundational, basic exercises are important! This no-frills, 10-minute workout will target your upper body. Grab a set of dumbbells and give it a go!

10-Minute Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

Equipment I Used:

You’ll do each exercise for 30 seconds, moving one exercise immediately to the next without rest. Once you’ve done all six exercises, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat a total of 3 times.

You’ll notice the progression of the circuit is biceps to shoulders to triceps (heavy on the biceps and shoulders).


Biceps Circle Curls | Start standing holding a weight in each hand, palms facing front. Make sure you have a soft bend in your knees and abs are engaged so that you have a supportive base. From this starting position, curl the weights up and over to the right in a circular shape. At the top of the contraction, weights will be up at your chest (12 o’clock if we’re thinking of the motion as hands on a clock. From there, slowly lower the weights down and over the left, ending back in your starting position. Every time your hands reach this point (6 o’clock), you’ll switch directions so that the next circular curl is up and over to the left, down and over to the right. Forearms should stay parallel to each other as you do this; elbows stay locked in tight by your bottom ribs.

*A consideration when choosing your weights: Bicep curls with the elbows braced by our sides are generally easier than those done with the elbows lifted in front of your body. Keep this in mind and maybe choose a set of weights a few pounds heavier than you’d normally use for bicep curls.

Hammer Curl | This is a bicep curl with the palms facing in towards each other the whole time. Start standing holding a weight in each hand, palms facing in. Make sure you have a soft bend in your knees and abs are engaged so that you have a supportive base. From this starting position, curl the weights up towards your shoulders and then release back down to your sides.

Hammer Curl to Press | Add on to the previous movement. Curl the weights up towards your shoulders and then press them overhead (shoulder press). Reverse the movement, lowering weights back to shoulder height and then down to starting position.

Arnold Press | This is a shoulder press where you fluidly circle your head with your forearms at the bottom. It’s easiest to start in the middle of the movement: elbows bent to 90 degrees out to your sides in goal post position. Shoulders should be down and back, not shrugged up towards your ears. From here, press the weights overhead and together. Lower them back down to 90-degree bends (elbows should be at armpit height, no lower) and as you do, close your forearms in front of your face, rotating the palms to face you. When weights tap together in front of your face and your forearms form the number 11, reverse the movement, opening up your arms to goal post as you rotate your palm outward and press the arms straight overhead.

If you’re doing these standing, make sure you have a soft micro-bend in your knees and core is engaged (think of gently tightening a corset). This will help prevent any undue stress on the low back.

Shoulder Press Ups | Imagine your forearms and elbows have magnets on them. Holding a weight in each hand, press the weights together and hold your forearms in front of you, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Fight to hold the elbows as close to each other as you can throughout the whole movement. From here, you’re going to press your hands straight up, lifting the elbows, keeping forearms close together (they form the number 11). Be careful not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears as you do this. After pressing up as high as you can, slowly return back to starting.

If this is too heavy, just hold one weight as you do this.

Overhead Tricep Extension | Start with a dumbbell in each hand, arms overhead, palms facing in and dumbbells held together (press them into each other). From this starting position, bend the elbows as you lower your hands and weights behind your head. Contract the triceps to then extend the weights back up overhead to starting position. As you do this exercises, hold the upper arms in towards the side of your head; elbows shouldn’t bow out to the sides in a diamond shape. As with all standing arm exercises, keep a soft bend to your knees and the core engaged so that you have a supportive base.

If you need to modify, just hold one of the weights.


WEARING | Spiritual Gangster tank c/o Shopbop (sold out but this tank is similar) & Sweaty Betty Urdhva leggings (c/0)

BTW these Sweaty Betty leggings are reversible–I love them! Super soft, too. They have a high waist so are great for pairing with a crop top if you don’t want to show too much midsection. 🙂 sweaty-betty-leggings

I know it’s only Thursday but have a fun weekend! I’m off to Scottsdale for a wedding (’tis the season!).

Let me know in the comments if you try this workout!


Bodyweight Pyramid Workout Targeting Obliques

Bodyweight Pyramid Workout Targeting the Obliques

You may have seen another post (unfinished, without pictures) pop on here this morning about a BOSU ball workout–sorry about that! I messed up my scheduling and a draft got published.

It’s a gloomy, rainy day here in Boston, but no complaints–I’ll be in sunny southern California soon enough! On Thursday I’m heading out to LA and then Friday through Sunday will be spent in Palm Springs for a bachelorette party. It’s the first time all my college BFFs and I will be together in years (after graduation we all seemed to move to different corners of the country) so I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas. I’ll do a blog post about the weekend in case any of you are thinking of doing a destination bachelorette party or just have a Palm Springs getaway in your sights. If you’ve been there and have restaurant/activity recommendations, let me know in the comments!

Bodyweight Pyramid Workout Targeting Obliques

Since this is a pyramid workout and you’re going through it at your own pace, the quick video I made for it just demos the exercises rather than going through the whole thing in real time. As always, full description with pictures below!

We’re mixing a pyramid structure of reps with 20-second isometric holds. There are three exercises which will be performed on the right and then the left. The first two will be done using a pyramid of reps, the third exercise is just a side plank hold (20 seconds EVERY time). Your rep numbers start and 10 and get reduced by 2 each time through the circuit. So here’s the breakdown:

10 reps exercise 1 right / 10 reps exercise 1 left
10 reps exercise 2 right / 10 reps exercise 2 left
20 second hold right / 20 second hold left

8 reps exercise 1 right / 8 reps exercise 1 left
8 reps exercise 2 right / 8 reps exercise 2 left
20 second hold right / 20 second hold left

… continue until you get to 2 reps each …

Your goal is to complete this workout as fast as you can without sacrificing proper form. It’s better (and way more effective) to go slow and nail the correct form than to rush it sloppily.

Bodyweight Pyramid Workout Targeting the Obliques

Rotating Crunch to Side V Up

For these, you just alternate between a full-body crunch and a side v-up crunch on the target side, rolling from center to your side, back and forth. For the reps on the right, start laying on your left side with your left arm stretched outwards on the ground for support. For comfortable positioning, you want to be on the side of your butt rather than directly on the hip bone. Do a side v up, lifting your legs up straight to meet your right elbow and raised torso. Lower down and roll onto your back with arms overhead and legs straight out, hovering a couple inches off the floor (to make these challenging, try your best to never let your feet rest on the floor, even while rolling from side to side). From this position, do a full-body crunch, bending your knees in as you sit up through the torso, chest coming up and in to meet knees. Slowly release back down onto your back and roll over to your left side for your next side v up.

The side v up + full body crunch in center = 1 rep. You’ll do the given number of reps, rolling to the left hip for each side v up. You’ll then repeat, rolling to the right hip for each side v up.

Windshield Wiper Sliders in Plank

Start in a plank position, hands stacked under shoulders. From here, you’re going to crunch the right knee in towards the right wrist. This is your starting position. Keeping the knee in as close to the arm as possible (make physical contact if you can), slide the knee up towards the elbow. From there, swish it across to the left elbow (touch it if possible). Swish the knee back to the right elbow and then slide it back down to wrist height. That’s 1 rep.

Side Plank Bottom Knee Crunch Hold

In a side plank position with your bottom hand stacked under the shoulder, press your top foot into the floor for support and then crunch the bottom knee into your chest. Hold it there for 20 seconds. The key is to keep the hips stacked as you do this–don’t let the top hop roll forward!

MODIFY: If your wrists are burnt out from holding a high plank in the previous exercise, you can totally do this one on your forearm!

Terez skull leggings -- get 25% off with code nicole25

WEARING | leggings c/o Terez (get 25% off with code nicole25) // Athleta tank (old but you can shop their current tank selection here) // Nike sneakers

Side note: I LOVE the skull leggings I’m wearing in today’s post! If you look closely at the pattern it almost looks like someone beadazzled jeggings. Which actually sounds awful, but it’s not haha. You can get 25% off ANY Terez leggings or apparel with code nicole25.


15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout (Video)

15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout (focus on abductors)

Wow my butt is feeling it after shooting this workout yesterday! 🙂

Today’s workout is going to focus on lateral movements and the outsides of our lower body (abductors). It’s great for everyone, but can be especially beneficial for runners. Running is a very forward-backward, single-plane activity so to prevent muscle imbalances, it’s good to mix in some workouts using lateral (side-to-side) movements. I loved megaformer workouts during marathon training for this reason–the lateral sliding on the machine is so good!

I teamed up with Iron Lily on this workout, so let’s first take a second to admire the leggings I’m wearing! Iron Lily is an LA-based women’s activewear line to which I was recently introduced. As a newer brand, the current collection is small, but I instantly was drawn to their leggings. The mesh panel, color blocking and visible seams are totally on trend, and the compression material makes them great for high-intensity workouts. If you like leggings that really hold everything in place, you’ll love these. And the waistband is wide and comes up high enough that the compression material is still flattering around your stomach. Iron Lily leggings

I’m wearing the Vanquish Leggings which retail at $106. It’s a higher price point (although definitely not as high as other brands I’ve seen!), but the quality is great and they’re made right here in the good ol’ USA, which I love. Check them out here!

15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout

Watch the Video

This 15-minute workout is going to target your lower body using lots of lateral movements. So think abductors. We’re opening up the hips and forcing the outer thigh/side butt area to work. The 15 minutes is broken up into three exercise combos. After each 3-minute combo, you’ll do a 60-second cardio blast. No equipment is needed.

15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout (focus on abductors)

Combo 1 | Curtsy Lunge + Curtsy Lunge Hold (Balance!)

30 seconds of movement + 10 seconds holding x6 (3 times each leg, alternating)

Curtsy Lunge | Start standing with feet hip-width apart. From here, sink down into your curtsey lunge: right foot stays planted on the ground and as you bend that right knee, reach your left foot behind it as far to the right as you can until it hovers off the ground. To modify, plant the ball of your foot on the floor for stability instead. From this deep lunge position, you’re going to press back up to standing, just lightly tapping your left foot to the floor before sinking back down into your next rep.

Curtsy Lunge Hold | Hold the bottom of your curtsy lunge and then try to hover the back left foot off the ground so that you’re balancing low on your right side.

Speed Skater 60 seconds

These are like side-to-side leaping curtsy lunges. Leap to the right, landing on your right foot and bending down to touch the ground by your foot with your left hand as you swoop your left foot behind the right (think of a curtsy). Come up, leaping left and reversing the move. Keep it going quickly, back and forth, trying to never let that back foot come to rest on the ground—keep the weight in the foot you land on.

Combo 2 | Hydrant Crunch with Lift + Pulses (Straight)

30 seconds of movement + 10 seconds pulsing x6 (3 times each leg, alternating)

Hydrant Crunch with Lift | You’ll be in a stacked/open tabletop position for this one. To set up, get onto all fours and then lower onto your left elbow. Open up your right hip like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant so that your hips are stacked and you’re facing the side of the room rather than the floor. From here, you’re going to crunch the right knee in towards the right shoulder. Extend it back out straight and then lift it up as high as you can keeping the hips stable and lower. Repeat.

Straight Leg Pulses | Hold the leg out straight, thigh bone rotated open (knee and toes point to the wall, not the floor) and from there pulse up and down.

Speed Skater 60 seconds

Combo 3 | Sumo Squat Lifts + Pulse Wide

30 seconds of movement + 10 seconds pulsing x6 (3 times each leg, alternating)

Sumo Squat with Lift | This is a wide-stance squat with a lateral leg lift. Feet wider than hip-distance apart, squat down low. Shift your weight into the left side and then as you begin to straighten the left side and rise up, lift the right leg straight up and out to the side. Lower it, bringing your weight back to center in that deep squat. 

Wide Sumo Squat Pulses | Hold a wide squat and angle your toes outward, knees tracking in line with toes. From here, you’re going to pulse your legs out wide (think of pulling your knees towards the back of the room while you squeeze your glutes).

Speed Skater 60 seconds

And you’re done!

15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout (focus on abductors)

Good Stretches to Do after This Workout

These are two great stretch options for this particular workout:

15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout (focus on abductors) 15-Minute Lateral Low Body Workout (focus on abductors)

WEARING | leggings c/o Iron Lily // tank c/o Reebok (old but similar here) // Nike sneakers

Let me know in the comments if you try the workout!


Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Iron Lily. While I was compensated for my time, all opinions–as always!–are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands who make this blog possible! 🙂