20 Dumbbell Arm Workouts to Add to Your Routine

Dumbbell Workouts

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When you think of exercise equipment, dumbbells are likely the first thing that comes to mind. And there's a reason for that: Weights are simple but effective tools to encourage your muscles to work harder than they would otherwise, which helps you grow stronger.

Even better, you can build an entire workout around your dumbbells. Grab one weight or a pair and incorporate them into strength training movements to take your resistance work to the next level. This can help boost strength, build muscle, improve muscular endurance, and condition your body to better perform everyday movements.

Ready to reap those benefits, but don't know where to begin? Start by selecting the right dumbbells for your fitness goals, says trainer and Rumble instructor Dale Santiago. If your goal is to increase strength, he recommends choosing a set of dumbbells that feels heavy to you. If you're aiming to grow muscle, go with medium to heavy weights. And if you hope to build muscle endurance, stick to high reps with lighter weights, he says.

Once you have your dumbbells in hand, it's time to get your sweat on. To help, trainers share their favorite dumbbell arm workouts to help you feel that upper-body burn.

Meet the Expert

  • Taryn Brooks is a Barry's instructor based in Los Angeles.
  • Caley Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer and director of education for Row House.
  • Josh Honore is a NASM-certified personal trainer and master coach for Row House.
  • Samantha Jade is a SoulCycle master instructor on Equinox+.
  • Dale Santiago is a trainer and Rumble instructor based in New York City.
  • Dean Seda is a NASM-certified personal trainer, Gympass trainer, and Zumba instructor.
  • Bethany Stillwaggon is an ACSM-certified personal trainer and master coach for Row House.
01 of 20

Leg-Heavy Arm Workout

Compound exercises can help you work more than just your arm muscles, all at the same time. Try these two moves from Gympass trainer Dean Seda to feel the burn in your arms, legs, core, and more to get a full-body workout with the help of your dumbbells.

  • Do 10–12 squats with an overhead press.
  • Do 10–12 woodchoppers on either side.
  • Repeat two to three times.
02 of 20

Compound Exercise AMRAPs

Ready to pick up the pace? Try this as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) workout from Bethany Stillwaggon, an ACSM-certified personal trainer and master coach for Row House. Set your timer for one minute, then complete as many reps of one exercise as you can before the time is up. Repeat for each move on the list below to feel the burn in all of your arm muscles.

  • Front rack squats
  • Alternating reverse lunges with lateral raises
  • Biceps curl to press
  • Push-up with plank rows
  • Floor press with a weighted bridge
03 of 20

Back to the Basics

There's a reason exercises like biceps curls, presses, and kickbacks are dumbbell staples: They work your major arm muscles simply and effectively, says Samantha Jade, a SoulCycle master instructor on Equinox+. Drill all the exercises below to master the classics.

  • Do 8 biceps curls.
  • Do 8 shoulder presses.
  • Do 8 curls into shoulder presses.
  • Do 8 triceps kickbacks.
  • Repeat three times.
04 of 20

Thrusters

This workout may only consist of one exercise, but it's an exercise that works your arms, shoulders, glutes, and more. To perform a thruster, start by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart while holding your dumbbells by your shoulders, says Josh Honore, a NASM-certified personal trainer and master coach for Row House. Squat, then press the weights above your shoulders and repeat.

  • Do 10 dumbbell thrusters.
  • Repeat four to six times.
05 of 20

Work Your Back

If you want to target the back side of your body, Seda's simple circuit has (literally) got your back. Challenge your triceps and deltoids while also engaging your biceps and core with these two exercises, but don't be fooled—though the workout is straightforward, you'll feel it the next morning.

06 of 20

Ladder Workout

You don't have to do tons of reps to make the most of your dumbbells. Take this ladder workout from Stillwaggon, for instance: Start with a few reps per exercise, then add one or two to each new round (2 reps, then 4, then 6, and so on). Keep going for 10 minutes to see how high you can get. Once the time is up, do another 10 minutes in reverse to see if you can get all the way back to the bottom of the "ladder."

  • Front to side raises
  • Push-pulls
  • Deadlift with a bent-over row
  • Sit-up with an overhead press
  • Bridge flys
07 of 20

Arm Ladders

If you loved Stillwaggon's ladder workout, then you'll crush this routine from Barry's instructor Taryn Brooks. Master some go-to dumbbell exercises while working your way down the ladder to get in tons of reps without things getting boring. Start with 10 reps per exercise, then do two less reps per round until you make it all the way to zero.

08 of 20

Push-Pull Circuit

If your arms are feeling tired from the workout above, but you're ready for more dumbbell action, then Brooks' chest- and back-focused ladder sequence is the way to go. Start with 10 reps per exercise, then lower your reps by two with each new round.

09 of 20

Push-Pull Intervals

Calling all high-intensity interval training (HIIT) aficionados! This interval workout from Santiago will challenge your endurance as much as your strength with heart-pumping bursts of intense activity. Do 30 seconds of each of the below exercises, taking a short rest in between each move. Then repeat the entire list four times through.

  • Bent-over row
  • Biceps curl
  • Chest press
  • Skull crusher
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Triceps Target

Want to give the back of your arms some extra love? Then Honore's triceps-heavy circuit is right up your alley. Do 10 reps of each of the below exercises, then repeat for four to six rounds. Your triceps will be screaming, but they will thank you.

  • Overhead triceps extension
  • Triceps kickback
11 of 20

Cardio Dumbbells

Get your heart pumping with this cardio and strength training fusion workout from Caley Crawford, a NASM-certified personal trainer and director of education for Row House. Start with five minutes of your cardio of choice (she recommends rowing) followed by the below strength circuit. Repeat for five rounds, decreasing your cardio by one minute each round.

  • 15 arnold presses
  • 30 alternating reverse lunges (option to add a biceps curl with each lunge)
  • 15 overhead triceps extensions
  • 30-second side plank while holding your top dumbbell over your shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
12 of 20

Increasing Weight

Ready to spice up your ladder workouts? Honore has got you covered. First, pick five exercises from the below list. Start by doing 10 reps per exercise, decreasing your reps by two with every new round. But here's the twist: As your reps decrease, increase the amount of weight that you're lifting to keep it challenging.

  • Dumbbell thruster
  • Lateral raises
  • Front raises
  • Side raises with a rotation
  • Shoulder press
  • Biceps curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Overhead tricep extension
  • Triceps kickback
  • Triceps dumbbell bench press
  • Dumbbell chest fly
  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Dumbbell row
  • Dumbbell reverse fly
13 of 20

Curls for Days

Curls are a go-to dumbbell exercise thanks to their ability to effectively target your major arm muscles and their simplicity. So why not make a workout of it? This circuit from Honore explores two variations of the classic exercise that'll put your biceps strength to the test.

  • Do 10 standard biceps curls.
  • Do 10 hammer curls.
  • Repeat four to six times.
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Lunge It Out

Work your arms and glutes at the same time with this simple compound exercise Honore recommends to challenge your strength and balance. Do four to six rounds of 10 reps to feel the burn in your booty and shoulders.

  • Do 10 reps of a static lunge with a lateral raise.
  • Swap legs each round.
15 of 20

Customized HIIT

Love intervals? Build your own custom HIIT session by choosing five of Honore's below exercises and applying your interval timing of choice to squeeze an intense workout into mere minutes. Try 30 seconds on, 30 off; Tabata timing; minute-long intervals; or something else entirely to see what works best for you.

  • Dumbbell thruster
  • Lateral raises
  • Front raises
  • Side raises with a rotation
  • Shoulder press
  • Biceps curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Overhead triceps extension
  • Triceps kickback
  • Tricep dumbbell bench press
  • Dumbbell chest fly
  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Dumbbell row
  • Dumbbell reverse fly
16 of 20

Simple AMRAPs

Speed round! Santiago recommends picking a workout length and rep goal (say, 10 reps per exercise in 10 minutes), then starting the timer to see if you can accomplish that goal before the clock runs out.

  • Bent-over row
  • Biceps curl
  • Chest press
  • Skull crusher
17 of 20

Combination Circuits

If you're a fan of Honore's shorter circuits, combine them all for the mother of all arm workouts. Do 10 reps of each of the below moves for a total of four to six rounds to put your muscle strength and endurance to the test.

  • Dumbbell thruster
  • Overhead triceps extension
  • Biceps curls
  • Static lunge with lateral raise
  • Triceps kickback
  • Hammer curls
18 of 20

Chest Circuit

If building chest strength is one of your goals when you hit the weight room, try Honore's chest-focused moves to help you target the area while also keeping your arm muscles engaged. Do 10 reps of each of the below moves for four to six rounds, or try the exercises ladder-style to keep things interesting.

  • Triceps dumbbell bench press
  • Dumbbell chest fly
  • Dumbbell chest press
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Upper-Body Pump

Slay some intervals with this timed sequence from Santiago that'll work all 360 degrees of your arms. Added bonus? You'll squeeze in some core work during the renegade rows.

  • 30 seconds of front raises
  • 30 seconds of rear delt flys
  • 30 seconds of renegade rows
  • 30 seconds of biceps curls
  • 30 seconds of triceps kickbacks
  • Repeat two times.
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Mix and Match

There are plenty of exercises to pick from when it comes to dumbbell arm workouts. So why not combine all the greats into the perfect workout for you? Hand-pick three to six of your favorite exercises from the workouts above. Do 10 reps of each exercise three times through, and boom: You've just DIY-ed your dumbbell routine.

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