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ARM Workout With Dumbbells ONLY (GET BIGGER Arms)

Updated: Apr 5

Having strong arms and shoulders requires as much work as any other part of your body, but the good news for anybody looking into getting this part of themselves into shape is that not only are arm exercises with weights one of the most accessible forms of exercise, but they’re also beneficial to your general health and fitness in several other ways, as well. Wondering how to get bigger arms at home? The good news is that dumbbells can definitely help with that.

Black and Red Dumbbells stacked on a rack

What do arm workouts involve?

In order to give your upper body a proper workout, you need to work on three main groups of muscles, the bicep tracii, the triceps and the deltoids, pushing these muscle areas into a state of hypertrophy. Using dumbbells, these muscles will grow and calories will be burnt more quickly, resulting in better tone and definition of the arms and shoulders and muscle growth, as well as weight loss.

The importance of arm workouts

Regardless of your original reason for deciding to get into shape in the first place, be it how to get bigger arms, increased fitness, weight loss, weight gain or muscle building, it is important to focus on your arms and upper body.

Building your upper strength will benefit you in your everyday life, while helping you with other exercises. A regular schedule involving a thorough arms workout will help your broader athletic performance while also promoting greater bone density, which can have health benefits which last a lifetime, including preventing strokes and the development of osteoporosis in later life. It may even be good for your mental health; stronger, better-toned arms can do wonders for self-confidence, both inside the gym and out.

Strength training will also reduce your risk of injury and, for those amongst us getting in shape to lose weight, the effect on your metabolism can be considerable, raising it so that you may even lose more weight more quickly even when not exercising.

The benefits of working on arm muscles

  • Working with dumbbells rather than barbells requires more stabilisation due to only using one arm, which leads to an increase in muscle growth.

  • Exercising is easy - you can get bigger arms at home! - and is easy to vary, with different weights of dumbbell meaning that you can easily find the right weight for you and different exercises to work on different parts of your upper arms and shoulders.

  • In comparison with barbells, dumbbells are comparatively much easier on the shoulders. People with shoulder injuries may be recommended to use dumbbells rather than barbells for upper body training.

The role of arm muscles in overall fitness

  • Having well-defined and toned arms can be great for our self-confidence.

  • Upper body work is important as part of a broader exercise schedule.

  • Strengthening bones can increase resistance to fractures and osteoporosis.

  • Better muscle strength improves both your stamina when exercising and reduces your recovery time afterwards, as well as being preventative with regard to injuries.

Person Holding Black Dumbbells

Benefits of arm workouts with dumbbells only

Their convenience means that you’re not limited to doing dumbbell arm workouts at the gym. Their relatively small size makes them easy to store under the bed or in a wardrobe, miles removed from the equipment that most people go to the gym for, because they have no space for it at home!

The relatively low price makes them ideal for home use, too, while you can also slowly build up your resistance over time by gradually increasing the weight of the dumbbells that you’re using. They’re the “jack of all trades” of the weights world.

Bicep Exercises

The biceps brachii are a two-headed muscle group made of the brachialis, which sits on your upper arm, and the brachioradialis, the muscle of the forearm that flexes the forearm at the elbow.

Dumbbell Curls

  1. Alternating Dumbbell Curls: Stand with your knees slightly bent and back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, in a neutral grip along the body. Raise a dumbbell by bending the forearm. During the movement, rotate your wrist outwards until your hand is in a supinated - with the palms facing up - position. Contract your biceps, then slowly return to the initial position. Keep your elbow close to your body during the movement. Alternate this movement one arm after the other.

  2. Concentration Curls: Sit in an upright position on a flat bench. Hinge forward and position your elbow near the base of your knee. Place your free hand on the other knee for stabilisation. Using a supinated grip, take a deep breath and curl the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Once the bicep is fully shortened, slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

Hammer Curls

  1. Seated Hammer Curls: Sit on a chair or bench and hold two dumbbells down by your side. Keep your palms facing inwards and upper arms still, and flex your elbows to bring the dumbbells to shoulder height. Lower them back down and repeat.

  2. Incline Hammer Curls: Sit on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Lie back on the back pad and keep the dumbbells down by your sides. Flex at the elbow and bring the dumbbells up towards your chest, try and keep the upper arm stationary throughout the exercise.

Zottman Curls

  1. Standing Zottman Curls: Grip a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing forward. Assume a standing position with your feet roughly hip width apart. Then, keeping your back straight, flex your biceps to curl the dumbbells upwards. Squeeze your biceps hard at the top and twist your hands so that your palms face downwards, then slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position and twist your hands so that your palms are facing forward again.

  2. Seated Zottman Curls: Sit holding a dumbbell in each hand & keep your elbows pointed at the floor and close to the body. Curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders whilst maintaining a supinated grip and squeeze your biceps. Slowly turn your hands over so your hands are pronated (overhand grip) and lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.

Tricep Exercises

The triceps, the muscle group that sits on the back of your upper arm, which include the long head, medial head, and lateral head, which merge in the back of your forearm.

Tricep Extensions

  1. Standing Tricep Extensions: Holding a single dumbbell with both hands, plant both feet on the floor a shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms above your head, ensuring that they are on either side of your ears. Inhale and, while keeping your shoulders as still as possible, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell behind your head. Then exhale and, using your triceps, extend your elbows to return to the starting position, ensuring that your shoulders, elbows and wrists remain in line with one another at all times.

  2. Seated Tricep Extensions: Sit on a bench and hold one dumbbell with both hands directly above your head. Slowly flex your elbows and lower the weight behind your head as you keep your upper arms still. Extend your arms and repeat.

Overhead Tricep Extensions

  1. One-Arm Overhead Tricep Extension: Hold a dumbbell in one hand directly behind your head, with your elbow bent and pointed towards the ceiling. Extend through your elbow until your arm is straight and the dumbbell is directly above you. Lower your arm back to the starting position and repeat.

  2. Two-Arm Overhead Tricep Extension: Hold the dumbbell in both hands with fingers overlapping, elbows tucked in at 45 degrees. Press the dumbbell from behind your head up to full arm extension. Try to keep your knees slightly bent during the set to protect your lower back.

Close Grip Bench Press

  1. Standard Close Grip Bench Press: Pick up the dumbbells using a neutral grip (palms facing in). Position the ends of the dumbbells in your hip crease, and sit down on the bench. Lay back and keep the weights close to your chest. Once you are in position, take a deep breath, crush the dumbbells together, then press them to lockout at the top. Continue to push the dumbbells together while lowering them under control as far as comfortably possible. Once the dumbbells touch your chest, push them back to the starting position.

  2. Incline Close Grip Bench Press: Grab a pair of dumbbells in each hand, lie on a bench set to a 45-degree incline. Hold them at arm’s length above your chest, palms forward. Keep your core braced and your elbows close to your body and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Pause, and then push the weights back up to the starting position.

Forearm Exercises

Wrist Curls

  1. Seated Wrist Curls: Kneel down behind a bench or other flat surface. Bend forward at the hips and rest your forearms on the bench about shoulder-width apart with your palms facing up. Your back is flat and your shoulders are back and down. Your wrists are in a neutral position. Curl your wrists upward as you exhale. Perform this movement slowly to engage the forearms and prevent the weights from straining your wrists. Extend your wrists downward as far as they will comfortably go on an inhale. Return the wrists to a neutral position.

  2. Standing Wrist Curls: Begin the exercise by selecting your dumbbells and holding them behind your back using an underhand grip. Your hands should be placed around shoulder width apart. Stand straight up with your feet a shoulder width apart and look straight ahead. Bending only at the wrists, let the dumbbells drop as far as possible. Slowly raise them up as far as possible squeezing the forearm muscles at the top of the movement. Only your wrists should be moving. Pause, and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Reverse Wrist Curls

  1. Seated Reverse Wrist Curls: Grasp a pair of dumbbells using a reverse grip and sit down on the end of a flat bench. Rest the back of your forearms on the tops of your inner thigh so that your wrists are just off the end of it. Bending only at the wrists, let the dumbbell drop as far as possible. Slowly raise the dumbbells up as far as possible squeezing the forearm muscles at the top of the movement. Pause, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.

  2. Standing Reverse Wrist Curls: Sit on a flat bench, and lean forward. Grasp a dumbbell with an overhand grip and rest your forearms on either the bench or your knees. Using your wrist motion alone, curl the weight upward, exhaling throughout the movement. Slowly lower the weight as low as is comfortable, inhaling throughout the movement.

tirrel grant from square mile fitness doing a dumbbell workout

Tips for Effective Arm Workouts with Dumbbells

Proper Form and Technique

Proper form and technique refer to the correct way to perform an exercise. This includes both body positioning and the motion of the exercise. For each exercise, there is an optimal way to perform it in order to get the most out of the movement and the best results.

This is essential for getting the most out of your workouts and avoiding injury. When you use proper form and technique, you can ensure that you are targeting the right muscles and using the right range of motion. This can help you maximise the effectiveness of your workouts and get the results you want faster.

Avoiding Injury

Using proper form and technique is also important for avoiding injury. When you use the wrong form, you can put undue strain on your muscles and joints, which can lead to pain and even serious injury. It can be a fine balance. You want to push your muscles into that state of hypertrophy without over-stressing them. But it can be achieved, as can increasing the intensity and difficulty of your sessions in order to continue your development. Also, always ensure that you warm up properly before exercising.

How to Increase Intensity and Difficulty

The best route to improving your body through exercise is incremental improvement, and there are several different steps that you can take in order to increase the intensity and difficulty levels of your exercise schedule.

Altering the tempo of your movements can certainly help. The eccentric phase of an exercise is the lowering part of the move — extending your arm during a biceps curl or lowering down into a squat or push-up, for example. The concentric phase is the opposite — when you shorten the muscle by flexing your arm during a biceps curl or standing up from a squat. Performing a movement more slowly in the eccentric phase and more quickly in the concentric phase may be the most favourable combination for increasing muscle size.

But tempo isn’t the only tool you can use to increase the intensity of your schedules. Increasing the number of repetitions you make, taking the time to learn good grip techniques and how to manage your breathing also help, while you will also get better results if you balance your workouts across your whole body rather than focussing on one specific area alone.

A Woman Working Out With Dumbbells

Example Workout from Tirrel Grant; ARM Workout With Dumbbells ONLY

Want to try an arm workout with dumbbells only? Square Mile Fitness's video below will run you through a great set of exercises to help you get started!

Working with dumbbells is easy, cost-efficient and doesn’t limit your exercise scheduling to the gym alone. Whether you want to get bigger arms, lose weight, or as part of a wider fitness schedule, building an arm workout with dumbbells into your schedule is important, challenging your entire muscular system to enhance lean mass, metabolism, and ultimately function. So long as you pay attention to your own limits, rest times, breathing and not pushing yourself too hard, you could see the benefits of dumbbell arm exercises in no time at all.

Want to learn more about wor king out and some of our tips? Give some more of our blog posts a read:

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