Work Your Arms With These Dumbbell Exercises

Dumbbells on a rack
Photo by Samuel Girven on Unsplash

If you’re looking to tone your arms or gain some muscle, dumbbells are the easiest way to do it. Weights are an excellent addition to your strength-training routine, and the best news is that they can be tailored to your level.

Just starting out? We suggest beginning with dumbbells that are between 3-5 pounds and working your way up as you gain strength.

Bicep Curl to Overhead Press

Your shoulders and biceps will get the most out of this 2-in-1 exercise. 

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, with palms facing out, allow the weights to rest by your sides. 
  2. Pull your core in tight as you bend your elbows, bringing the weights to your shoulders. Keep your elbows stay glued to your sides—don’t let them slide backward. 
  3. Brace your abs and keep your arms moving upwards, straightening the arms above you as you simultaneously turn your hands so your palms face out. Do your best to lift the dumbbells straight up, so they come to a stop directly above your shoulders. Make sure your back doesn’t arch. 
  4. Bend your elbows and lower the weights back to the front of your shoulders, turning them so your palms face your body again. 
  5. Straighten your elbows and lower the weights with control, bringing them back down to your sides in the starting position. 
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Plank Dumbbell Row

Every major muscle group will benefit from this, but especially your triceps. 

  1. Start on your hands and knees, with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Hold a dumbbell against the ground in each hand. Brace your core and extend your legs behind you, tucking your toes under to lift your knees off the ground and spreading your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Pull your core towards your spine and squeeze your glutes as you lift the right dumbbell off the ground, pulling it to your right armpit. Make sure your right elbow is pointing up and your right shoulder blade is squeezing in. 
  3. Lower the weight to the ground with control, bracing your core and glutes. Do your best to minimize any rocking movement from side to side.
  4. Repeat the same on the other side. 
  5. Do 5 on each side. 

Alternating Dumbbell Punch

It’s best to use lightweight dumbbells for this—no more than five pounds. 

  1. With a weight in each hand, stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, your abs tight, and your back flat.
  2. Lift both fists in front of your face, keep your core braced, and maintain a soft bend in your knees.
  3. Keeping the weight on your right foot, pivot your left foot, rotating your abdomen toward the right as you punch across your body with your left hand. The punch should be tight and controlled, with your fist about shoulder height and your core tight. 
  4. Bring your left hand back to the center of your body in a quick, controlled movement. This snap back to your chest should work your core and arm just as much as the punch out.
  5. Repeat on the other side and do 10 of each.