Dumbbell Exercises for your Arms


Want to build strength in your arms? These beginner-friendly dumbbell exercises target your biceps, triceps, forearms, and shoulders to build strength and muscle. They work best as part of a wider weight-training routine.

If you’re looking to train your shoulders alone, then check out our dumbbell shoulder workout guide.


Some people just don’t get on with barbells – and that’s okay. If you’re hitting plateaus, don’t feel confident, or just aren’t see the results you were expecting from barbell workouts – dumbbells are the way forward. Plus, it’s easier to store a bench and dumbbells at home than it is a full Olympic size barbell. Some things just make sense.


For this arm workout, you just need dumbbells, but a kettlebell or another available weight can be used as a substitute.

Skull crushers

Skull crushers sound intimidating, but are beginner-friendly and you can start as light as you need. Skull crushers target your triceps and are a must-have for any total arm workout.

How to do it:

1.To start you’ll need to use a flat gym bench, lying on your back with legs to either side or resting comfortably on the footrest.

2.Get into your starting position by holding a dumbbell of your preferred weight in both hands, extended straight up above your chest and with the shaft in a vertical position.

3.Move the dumbbell down towards the back of your head by bending and flexing your elbows, trying to keep your upper arms straight and at a right angle to your body.

4.Continue lowering the dumbbell behind your head until the top lines up with the edge of the bench. You can stay a little higher if this is too difficult.

5.Now bring it back to the starting position by reversing your movement, ending with the dumbbell once again extended in a straight line up from your chest.

6.And repeat! It’s that simple. Just make sure you keep an extra tight grip on your weight to avoid any accidents.

Do's and Don'ts

  • DO try to keep an extra tight grip on your weight to avoid any accidents.

  • DON’T lock your arms at the starting position


No arm workout would be complete without the humble bicep curl. Just remember to vary your arm workouts and you’ll build strength evenly.

How to do it:

  1. Stand up straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands holding the barbell in an underhand grip. Your hands should be positioned just outside your hips.

  2. Curl the bar towards your chest, engaging your core and keeping your chest up and shoulders back. You need to keep your elbows tight so that the biceps can be fully engaged. We find gripping the bar hard helps keep things nice and tight.

  3. Feel for your bicep contraction, and hold it for a moment. We’re working our biceps here, so ensure you actually feel the contraction and pause in that spot before you lower.

  4. Lower the bar, in a controlled manner forms the final part of the exercise. Aim to lower the bar in between 2 and 4 seconds.

  5. Repeat for as many reps feel comfortable.


This ultra-simple triceps exercise can be done with or without a bench, making it easy to do at home if you can’t make it to the gym.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms bent at 90-degrees.

  2. Lean forwards (hinging at the hips), until you’re almost parallel with the floor.

  3. Keep your upper arm still, and straighten your arm out.

  4. Hold a moment, then return to your original position.

  5. Repeat.

Do's and Don'ts

  • DO try to lock your shoulders

  • DON’T have any other movement apart from at your elbows


Lateral raises are beginner-friendly and great for building shoulder and upper arm strength, but you should follow the steps to ensure you’re performing the exercise safely and effectively.

How to do it:

1.Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand, your arms resting at your sides. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, and don’t forget to maintain good posture.

2.Keeping your arms straight, lift your arms out to the side, stopping once your arms are perpendicular to the rest of your body.

3.Gently reverse the motion until you are back in your original position. You’ve just done one lateral raise!


Finally, for some forearm isolation we have the palm-down wrist curl.

How to do it:

  1. Sit down with your feet flat on the floor and your back upright.

  2. With a dumbbell in each hand, rest your wrists on your knees. Your palms should be facing down and toward your knee.

  3. Flex your wrists, as high as you can, keeping the rest of your arm still. You should feel this in your forearm.

  4. Lower your hands to the original position.

  5. Repeat.

Do's and Don'ts

  • DO try to use a comfortable weight

  • DON’T raise your arms


Lifting weights takes a lot of effort, so you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout routine. The friendly personal trainers at your local Gym are on hand to discuss technique, create an individualised fitness plan, and help you smash your fitness goals. Get in touch to learn more.

Arm Exercises
Read more
Skull Crushers
Read more
Chin ups
Read more
Arnold Press
Read more

Other Exercises

How to do a Dip
Read more
How to do Box Jumps
Read more
How to do a Bear Crawl
Read more
How to do Bent Over Row
Read more
* Offer available at selected sites only. See Terms & Conditions for further details. ** 24 hour access not currently available at all Gyms. Please see individual Gym pages for further details. ⨥Applicable terms, conditions and joining fees may apply. © 2024 The Gym Group.