Upright rows with dumbbells strengthen and tone the muscles in the middle of the back, and between the shoulders and neck.
For this exercise, you need two dumbbells of equal weight, each weighing 5 to 15 pounds. Begin with light-weight dumbbells until you become familiar with the exercise.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the dumbbells at thigh level, in front of the body. The palms of your hands should face toward you, and your elbows should point out.
Begin by lifting the dumbbells toward the shoulders. As you lift, concentrate on pulling your shoulder blades together. Keep the weights close to the body and the elbows pointing out. Lift the dumbbells only to shoulder level, and do not raise your elbows above the shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower the weights to the start position. Maintain control at all times and breathe regularly. Count one-two-three-four on the upward motion, one-two on the pause, and one-two-three-four on the downward motion. One-two. One-two-three-four.
When you are comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells until you can do 8 to 10 repetitions using proper form. Once you can achieve 12 or more repetitions, increase the weight to bring you back to the 8-to-10-repetition target zone.