Adding strength training to your fitness routine is a good idea on many fronts. It will help you get stronger and build muscles. Muscles burn calories more efficiently, so your body will be able to blast that stubborn fat a bit faster. To include the dumbbell upright row into your routine, choose the right amount of weight that you can lift safely so that you can focus on correct technique.
Start with a 1- or 2-pound dumbbell. Ensure that your elbows are out to the sides and not too far forward, and keep your wrists flexed as you move the weight upward. Do one set of eight to 12 repetitions of the exercise. The dumbbell upright row primarily uses the muscles of the shoulders and back, so if you're not strong in those areas, use lighter weight as needed.
Once you've mastered the technique and you've lifted at that weight for a couple sessions, move up in weight. Ideally, you should be lifting enough weight so that the last few repetitions are difficult to complete, says MayoClinic.com. If those 1- or 2-pound dumbbells are pretty easy to lift, move up in weight to the next available size, such as a 5-pound dumbbell. Do one set of 12 repetitions at that higher weight, but watch out for overtaxing your shoulders and upper and lower back or arching your lower back; maintain good posture by pulling in your abdominals and stop if you feel any back or shoulder pain during the exercise.
When that next amount of weight becomes easy, move up to add a second set of eight to 12 repetitions. When you've lifted at that weight for a few weeks and can successfully do two sets without much effort, move up to the next-sized dumbbell. As a general rule, when you find that lifting that amount of weight is easy to complete, it's time to move up to a heavier weight so that you continue to create enough intensity to challenge your muscles and create the tears in your muscle fibers that help you build more muscle.
When you're just starting out, focus on lifting weight safely and properly. After a while though, you may find that you have certain goals in mind for your weight training. If you want to build muscle and get toned-looking shoulders and back muscles, opt to lift a heavier weight and do fewer repetitions -- so long as you can do it without arching your back and hurting yourself. If you want to get stronger and build muscular endurance, do more sets and stay with a lighter weight, advises the American Council on Exercise. If you are new to strength training, work with a coach or personal trainer the first time or two to learn proper form.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.