Your 10-Minute, Upper-Body Workout

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
Share it:
Your 10-Minute, Upper-Body Workout

When life gets busy, it can put a strain on your fitness — driving to the gym, working out for an hour and driving back home just isn’t possible. But instead of skipping exercise altogether, take 10 minutes out of your day to do an effective workout to help you feel a lot better.

If you want a lean and strong upper body, spend those 10 minutes targeting your shoulders, chest, arms, core, and back with our workout that strengthens them from every angle.

To get the most work in the least amount of time, we’ll use something called “clusters.” The reps are listed as “3,3,” which means you’ll do 3 reps, take a 5 – 10 second break, and do another three reps of the same exercise. This way, you can use a heavier weight and squeeze in a few extra reps for more strength and more calories burned.


Set a timer for 10 minutes and repeat this circuit for as many times as possible while following the rest periods.


3 reps, 30 seconds rest

This is the best exercise to build a strong and powerful upper-body. You have to use your entire body to stabilize as you drive a weight overhead — everything from your legs, core, shoulders, and traps work with each rep.

The move: Start holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your shoulders (or hold a barbell on your shoulders and grip it about shoulder-width apart). Drive the dumbbells straight up until you can lock out your elbows. Don’t excessively arch your lower back.


3 reps, 30 seconds rest

Pullups and chinups are amazing exercises to build a strong back and sculpted arms. They strengthen your lats and even help you improve your grip, which carries over to other exercises. (If you can’t do a chinup, that’s OK — just use the lat-pulldown machine.)

The move: Grab a pullup bar with and overhand grip (your palms facing away from you) and start by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pull yourself up and lead with your chest. To regress this move, hold the pullup bar with an underhand grip (palms facing toward you) and pull yourself up.


3 reps, 30 seconds rest

The inverted row targets your back muscles to build a strong back and a healthy, confident posture. It also activates your abs so you can get more bang for your buck!

The move: Grab a bar from underneath with your feet in front. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up while keeping your body straight like a plank.


> Total-Body Dumbbell Workout
No-Equipment Core Workout
4-Move Kettlebell Workout
No-Equipment, Total Body Workout

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.


9 responses to “Your 10-Minute, Upper-Body Workout”

  1. Avatar Andos ! says:

    Is it 5-10 seconds rest, or 30 seconds – seems to show both…?!
    And how many sets before changing exercise per circuit?

    • Avatar Shannon says:

      Read the article: “To get the most work in the least amount of time, we’ll use something called “clusters.” The reps are listed as “3,3,” which means you’ll do 3 reps, take a 5 – 10 second break, and do another three reps of the same exercise”. So that’s 3 reps, 10 sec break, 3 reps 10 sec break, 3 reps, 10 sec break = 1 set. Move on to next. Total will be 30 secs of rest in that set.

      • Avatar Andos ! says:

        Yup, I did read the article, Shannon, and it wasn’t clear, hence my question.

        As you’ve quoted, it said do 3 reps, rest 5-10 seconds, then do another 3 reps. What it didn’t say clearly was how many sets before moving on to the next exercise. Also, below each exercise picture it says “3 reps, 30 seconds rest”. So, that’s not what it said in the article. The article said 5-10 seconds. Hence, confusion.

        If it had said 30 seconds total rest per set, it would’ve helped. Or that it was 3 sets of 3 reps. Just a simple additional note.

        But thanks for interpreting.

  2. Avatar Suzanne Shade Waddell says:

    We do these moves in CrossFit. For the inverted row, we put the barbell on the rack and then move to the other side to do the move. Less chance of bar coming off rack. Safer. I guess the model can’t do that because the wall is there! But…yeah, that barbell can come off the rack.

  3. Avatar Pat Fryer Dwyer says:

    Couldn’t you find a model that wasn’t covered in tattoos? Gross! Not my idea of a role model!

    • Avatar Mike Smith says:

      Really? Is it still 1960? Your really offended by someone with tattoos? Shes not trying to be anyone’s role model. simply showing you how to better yourself, and you want to judge her for some tattoos? And just because shes not your cup of tea doesnt make her gross. Get over yourself lady.

      • Avatar Alan says:

        I also don’t like tattoos. Why people take a beautiful body and mark it up is beyond me.
        Really distracts

    • Avatar Mark Gaul says:

      Seriously Pat. How old are you…. the lady is on here showing you the correct form when doing the moves. She is a fit and good looking lass. And she only has two partial sleeves and a little on her back. This is the norm these days. Grow up and stop being so judgemental.

    • Avatar W Dodd says:

      You make me laugh. I read your page. You right wing “loons” sound just like old fogies in the 60’s – freaking out about those ‘long haired’ hippies. Calm down, and get over yourself. In my experience, people who waste time judging others for things like tattoos have some pretty serious personality problems. Take a look in the mirror, honey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.

You’re taking control of your fitness and wellness journey, so take control of your data, too. Learn more about your rights and options. Or click here to opt-out of certain cookies.