If you’ve spent weeks, maybe even months, doing the same old gym routines and exercises, then it’s time for a change. The body is tremendously efficient at adapting to a stimulus, so even though your regular training program may have once yielded incredible results, the body will inevitably plateau. This challenging workout is the perfect way to mixthings up when it comes to your upper body. These exercises will focus on developing and strengthening muscles in your core and shoulders—two areas crucial to an athletic and strong-looking physique.

Goal: Train your core and shoulders in one efficient routine.

Why It Works: Using exercises that simultaneously target both muscle groups makes for a fun, effective routine that saves you time in the gym.

Equipment Needed: Two dumbbells, one heavier for the easier exercises, and one lighter for the exercises you find more difficult.

How To: This routine can be performed one of two ways: either perform one after the other as a circuit for three rounds, or as straight sets, doing three sets of each exercise before moving to the next.

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Shoulder Press

Reps: 15 per sideBegin in a half-kneeling position with your left leg forward and holding a dumbbell in the same hand at shoulder height (A). Keeping your body stationary, press the dumbbell straight overhead (B). Lower back down and repeat.

Windmill Press

Reps: 8 per sideStand with feet wide apart and turn one foot to face the side. Holding dumbbells, raise the hand opposite to the foot that is turned out straight overhead (A). Keeping the dumbbell pressed, slowly hinge from the hips and lower your torso towards your out-turned foot. Hold this position for 1-2 breaths (B). Raise back up slowly and repeat.

Dumbbell Diagonal Woodchop

Reps: 10 per sideBegin in a semi squat position holding a dumbbell with both hands. Bring the weight to the outside of your left leg (A). Come up to standing, rotating through the torso and raising the dumbbell to the opposite side (B). Lower back down and repeat.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Plank Row

Reps: 15 per sideGet into plank position with a dumbbell in one hand (A). Keeping your hips square, pull the dumbbell up to your side, squeezing your shoulder blade at the top of the movement (B). Lower back down and repeat.

Weighted Toe-Touch Crunch

Reps: 15 per sideLie on your back holding a dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands. Raise your legs towards the ceiling, making a 90-degree angle with your body. Crunch up, raising your shoulders off the floor and pressing the weight towards your toes. Lower back down and repeat for all reps.

Amy Jo Palmquest
Amy Jo Palmquest, BSc Exercise Science and Nutrition, is a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Transformation Fitness Studio in Olympia, WA. She is also a STRONGCAMP ambassador.