There are many movements you can do with just a pair of dumbbells. Find out what dumbbell arm exercises can grow the muscles in this area.
Something to note first is that the arm exercises below are for muscles like your biceps (front upper arm), triceps (back upper arm), deltoids (shoulder), and forearm grip muscles.
This list does not include dumbbell chest exercises and back exercises.
Another thing to note is that you typically can’t target fat loss. The movements below can help you grow your arm muscles but for losing arm fat, you want to focus on other habits.
1. Standing dumbbell bicep curls
Take the following steps to do a standing bicep curl:
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hand down for now but point your hand palms forward.
- While keeping your upper arms and the rest of your body in the same position, slowly raise the dumbbells as far as comfortable by folding your arms.
- Lower the dumbbells back to starting position in a controlled motion.
Many people are interested in the visual aspect of bigger biceps. This makes dumbbell bicep exercises like the regular bicep curl a popular choice.
The thing to keep in mind with this exercise is that you only want to move your forearms. This makes it so your biceps have to move the full weight of the dumbbells which can result in better training results.
Something else to note is that you typically do bicep isolation exercises like this after your compound exercises like rows and pull-ups.
2. Tricep dumbbell kickbacks
The next arm exercise again only requires you to have a pair of dumbbells of a good weight for your strength level. Once you have these, take the following steps to do a tricep dumbbell kickback:
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell of the desired weight in each hand. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Tilt your upper body forward as far as comfortable while keeping your spine straight and your upper arms by your sides. You can let your forearms with the dumbbells hang down for now.
- Raise the dumbbells by stretching your arms in a controlled motion.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells again so that you are back in the position of step 2.
If you do a lot of bicep workouts you can definitely also want to do dumbbell tricep exercises like the kickback to keep your muscle distribution balance.
This can help you avoid injuries and gives your arms a better look.
You can also do tricep kickbacks with your chest against an incline weight bench. This can make it easier to keep the rest of your body still and really focus on working the tricep arm muscles.
3. Overhead dumbbell tricep extensions
Overhead dumbbell tricep extensions are, as their name implies, another dumbbell exercise that works the back of your upper arms. Take the following steps to do this movement:
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Put your feet in a stable position.
- Swing the dumbbells upward so that you can stand with your upper arms pointing up almost vertically. You can let your forearms with the dumbbells hang down behind your head for now. Keep your spine more or less straight throughout the movement.
- Slowly raise the dumbbells until your forearms are pointing up vertically.
- Lower the dumbbells back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
Because of the position of the weights, you want to make sure you don’t use dumbbells that are too heavy in overhead tricep extensions.
This exercise focuses on slightly different parts of your triceps than the kickback since the angle of your upper arms in relation to your body is slightly different.
If needed, you can also do overhead dumbbell tricep extensions while sitting down to make it easier to keep your body still during the movement.
4. Dumbbell hammer curls
Dumbbell hammer curls may look like a regular bicep curl at first but the small difference influences in what ratio you work your arm muscles. You will likely need slightly lighter dumbbells.
That being said, take the following steps to do a dumbbell hammer curl:
- Stand up straight with one dumbbell in each hand. Point your hand palms to the center.
- Raise the dumbbells as far as comfortable in a controlled motion. Keep your upper arms and the rest of your body in the same position.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells again.
Due to the different wrist angles, hammer curls work your biceps brachialis (deeper front upper arm muscle) and biceps brachioradialis (forearm muscle) slightly more.
On the flip side, you also work the regular biceps brachii to a lesser extent.
Whether you will prefer this dumbbell arm exercise over the regular bicep curls will depend on your training goals.
5. Dumbbell shoulder presses
Compared to the previous isolation exercises, you will likely be able to use slightly heavier dumbbells in the shoulder press. Take the following steps to do this movement:
- Put two dumbbells of the desired weight on the ground and put your hands on them. Keep your spine more or less straight.
- Swing the dumbbells forward and up so that you get them up to shoulder height. Stand with your feet slightly apart and your upper arms pointing somewhat more forward.
- Raise the dumbbells up in the air in a controlled motion until your arms are slightly less than stretched. Point your upper arms at about 45-degree angles forward in the first part of the movement.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells to the position of step 2 again. Again, keep your upper arms pointing slightly forward.
Dumbbell shoulder presses mainly work your front and middle deltoids (shoulders), triceps, and trapezius.
In simpler words, this is a great tricep compound exercise that works a variety of important muscles.
By using dumbbells you also engage a variety of shoulder stabilization muscles to a nice extent.
6. Dumbbell side lateral raises
This next exercise looks simple and is straightforward but it can offer helpful results. Take the following steps to do a dumbbell side lateral raise:
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your wrists at an angle that feels comfortable to you. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
- Move the dumbbells sideways and up in a controlled motion until your upper arms are about horizontal.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back to your sides.
Dumbbell side lateral raises are an isolation exercise that focuses on the middle part of your deltoids, the main shoulder muscle.
You could consider doing targeted exercises like this for aesthetic purposes or because you want to become stronger in certain specific movements.
7. Lying dumbbell tricep extensions
The equipment requirements for the next weighted arm exercise are slightly stricter. Besides a good pair of dumbbells, you want a sturdy flat weight bench.
Once you have these things, take the following steps to do a lying dumbbell tricep extension:
- Sit on one end of a weight bench with a dumbbell in each hand and the weights resting on your upper legs.
- Kick back the dumbbells and lie down in one motion. Keeping the dumbbells at chest height will likely be the most convenient.
- Push the dumbbells up until your arms are slightly less than stretched and tilt your arms slightly backward.
- Lower the dumbbells as far as comfortable behind your head in a controlled motion. Keep your upper arms in the same position.
- Slowly raise the dumbbells again so that you are back in the position of step 3.
In theory, you could also do lying dumbbell tricep extensions on the ground.
However, this will be uncomfortable and potentially limit your range of motion which tends to be suboptimal for training your arm muscles.
That aside, by lying down, it becomes easier to keep your upper arms and the rest of your body still during the movement.
This can make it easier to isolate your tricep muscles and get bigger and stronger arms.
One potential downside of lying dumbbell tricep extensions is the extra equipment requirement. Not everyone has the budget or space for a good weight bench.
Can you build your arms with just dumbbells?
Yes, in combination with the right exercises, workout plan, nutrition, and rest, you can build your arms with just dumbbells.
How do you build arms fast with dumbbells?
To build arms fast with dumbbells you would do exercises for them with enough weight, repetitions, and sets as often as possible without overtraining.