Go to any gym and you’ll see a bunch of guys doing a variety of dumbbell exercises for biceps and triceps (along with barbells) to get a big set of guns.
As a co-founder of Exercises.com.au, I’m here to tell you that you can get big arms with just dumbbells. Yes, it is possible to get great results by following a weight lifting program that uses dumbbell exercises for bigger arms.
I’ve created this guide on how to put on a gun show everywhere you go with the 5 best dumbbell exercises for arms.
Great if you’re a member of a local gym – but you can do these 5 best arm exercises at home.
To build muscle, all you need to do is continue to increase the weight every month to ensure you overload the muscles, and eat a healthy diet complete with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
Are you ready? Let the gains begin!
Top Dumbbell Exercises for Arms
Big arms are a conversation piece. You can’t hide them and girls can’t help but notice. Once their eyes drift to your arms, count to three, and the question will pop up:
“How long have you been training for?”
That’s why men spend hours training their arms in the gym. As the popular gym saying goes, “curls get the girls”.
The good news is you don’t have to spend countless hours working out your arms because your biceps and triceps are used in a variety of exercises.
The biceps are used in pulling exercises such as rows, pulldowns, and chin ups – and the triceps while you’re pushing in the bench press and shoulder press.
As a small muscle group, you only need a few arm exercises for mass gain. Dumbbells are an ideal choice as your weapons for mass construction. They’re portable; allow you to get a better range of motion, and a strong contraction on top.
Without further delay, here are the 5 best arm exercises for men.
Alternating Dumbbell Curls
Alternating Dumbbell Curls are a classic arm exercise. It’s one of the best arm exercises for size and strength because you go through a full range of motion while curling heavier dumbbells.
Basketball and football players love Alternating Dumbbell Curls because strong biceps make it harder for the defense to smack the ball away. Plus, big arms look imposing!
Alternating Dumbbell Curls are one of the ideal arm exercises for men at home. For best results, use adjustable dumbbells so you can easily adjust the resistance level.
How To Perform Alternating Dumbbell Curls
● Choose a pair of dumbbells that will allow you to perform 8 to 12 reps using good form.
● Place the dumbbells on your sides with the palms facing each other. Keep your shoulders down but keep a slight bend in your elbows.
● Take a shoulder-width stance, tighten your core, keep your chest out, then flex at the elbow to begin the curling motion.
● As your arm hits mid-point, supinate by externally rotating the wrist. At the top position, your fist should be facing your shoulder.
● Flex the biceps on top for a count of “one” to get a powerful contraction.
● Resist the weight on the way down; internally rotate the wrist to get the dumbbell back to starting position. Repeat the process with the other arm.
● Continue until you’ve completed the target number of sets and reps.
Best Techniques To Grow Your Arms With Alternating Dumbbell Curls
● Progressive Overload – Stronger arms build bigger arms. Increase the weight after every set but stop when you can’t perform a strict curl for 6 reps. If you have 1 pair of dumbbells, you can increase the intensity by reducing your rest periods between sets.
● Time Under Tension – Curl the dumbbell until mid-point and hold the position for 10 seconds. Return to starting position then knock off 8 straight reps in perfect form.
● Negatives – Use a weight that’s 10-20% heavier than your best dumbbell strict curl. With a bit of body English, curl the weight up to your shoulder. With a count of 8 or more seconds, resist the weight on the way back to the starting position. Use negatives only at the end of your normal biceps workout.
Incline Dumbbell Curls
Incline Dumbbell Curls is a more challenging version of Alternating Dumbbell Curls because you perform the exercise seated and the biceps get a deeper stretch.
This is one of the best upper arm exercises with dumbbells because the stretch hits the long head of the biceps which gives you the much-sought-after “peak”.
If you participate in physical activities that require a lot of pulling such as rowing, wrestling, and grappling styles of martial arts, doing a few sets of Incline Dumbbell Curls will improve performance and lower the risk of biceps tears.
How To Perform Incline Dumbbell Curls
● Set an adjustable bench to an angle of 45 degrees.
● Grab 2 light dumbbells and sit on the bench with your back firmly pressed against the bench. Allow the dumbbells to hang straight down, with your palms facing in.
● Tighten your core; flex at the elbow and curl the dumbbell up.
● At the midpoint, where your forearms are parallel to the floor, supinate by externally rotating your wrist. At the top position, your palm should be facing your shoulder.
● Resist the weight as you return to the starting position.
● You can perform Incline Dumbbell Curls by curling the dumbbells alternately or at the same time.
● Repeat the process until you’ve hit the target number of reps.
Best Techniques To Grow Your Arms With Incline Dumbbell Curls
● Rest-Pause – This technique will give you one of the best dumbbell workouts for arms because it’s intense and you don’t need to use very heavy dumbbells. Choose a weight that you can incline curl for a maximum of 10 strict reps. After you hit 10 reps, allow the dumbbells to hang on your sides, and rest for 30 seconds. Once your rest period is over, go for 3 to 4 strict reps. Rest for another 30 seconds, then try to do 1-2 more curls without cheating.
● Drop Sets – Choose a weight that you can incline curl for 10 strict reps. Once you’ve completed 10 reps, get a lighter pair of dumbbells, and go to failure. For your third and final drop set, choose a lighter weight, and again perform strict reps until failure.
● 21s – Curl the weight halfway and perform 7 strict reps. Return to the starting position then curl all the way to the shoulder. From there, curl the dumbbell only from the shoulder until midpoint for another 7 reps. Finally, return to the starting position and knock out 7 full strict reps.
Peaked biceps – check. Horseshoe triceps – check. Hammer Curls build your forearms and give your arms the complete look. It also works your biceps and allows you to carry heavier weights which makes Hammer Curls one of the best arm exercises for mass.
Hammer Curls is an important exercise for those who play sports that need a strong and stable grip such as golf, tennis, baseball, grappling martial arts, and bowling.
How To Perform Hammer Curls
● Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them as if you’re carrying a hammer in both hands; arms straight down and palms facing each other.
● Assume a shoulder-width stance. Tighten your core. Flex your elbow to curl the weight up to your shoulder. Maintain the position of the wrist; don’t supinate.
● At the top position, flex your upper arm. You should feel a strong contraction in your biceps and forearm muscles.
● Bring the dumbbells back to the starting position by resisting the weight.
● You can perform Hammer Curls with alternating arms or by curling the dumbbells simultaneously.
● Repeat until you’ve completed the target number of repetitions.
Best Techniques To Grow Your Arms With Hammer Curls
● Rest-Pause – The rest-pause technique will turn Hammer Curls into one of the best exercises for arm strength. This time, choose a weight that you can Hammer Curl for a maximum of 8 strict reps. After you’ve completed 8 reps, rest for 30 seconds, then hit 3 to 4 reps. Rest for another 30 seconds then try to complete 1 to 2 strict reps. Add a twist by finishing off with a weight that’s 50% lighter then perform strict reps until failure. See if you can hit 20 reps non-stop.
● Extended Sets – Start out by doing Incline Dumbbell Curls. When you’ve hit failure, switch to Hammer Curls. Because you can carry more weight with the Hammer Curl position, you should be able to complete 4 to 6 strict reps after doing Incline Dumbbell Curls.
● Time Under Tension – Perform Hammer Curls one arm at a time. Start with your right arm and go for 5 reps. Hold the 5th rep in the halfway position then knock out 5 reps with the left arm. At the 5th rep, hold the dumbbell in the halfway position then curl another 5 reps with the right arm. Repeat until you’ve completed 20 total reps for each arm.
Weighted Tricep Dips
Weighted Triceps Dips is one of the best exercises for arm mass. The triceps account for a larger portion of your arms and Weighted Triceps Dips hits all 3 heads of the triceps muscle.
This is also a good all-around mass builder for the upper body as it hits the chest and shoulders.
Gymnasts, football players, boxers, and other athletes who do movements that require an extension of the elbow and a lot of pushing will greatly benefit from doing Weighted Triceps Dips.
How To Perform Weighted Triceps Dips
● Hook a dipping belt around your waist and attach a dumbbell that will allow you to perform 10 strict reps of Weighted Triceps Dips.
● Get a good grip on the handles of a parallel dipping bar. Push off your foot to give yourself a boost to the top position.
● Tighten your core to stabilise your upper body then hook one foot behind the other.
● Bend at the elbows to lower your body. Stop at the point where your lower arms are parallel to the floor or your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
● Extend the elbows to bring you back to the starting position. Flex your triceps at the top to get a powerful contraction.
● Repeat the process until you’ve completed the target number of reps.
Best Techniques To Grow Your Arms With Weighted Triceps Dips
● Drop Sets – After you’ve completed the maximum number of reps, remove the dumbbell, and perform bodyweight reps until failure.
● Progressive Overload – Start out by using a dumbbell that allows you to perform 12 strict reps. Keep increasing the weight until you can do no more than 6 strict reps. Rest 2 minutes between sets.
● EMOTM – Every-Minute-On-The-Minute means you hit as many reps as possible within 60 seconds. If you hit your max number of reps in 30 seconds, you’ll have 30 seconds to rest until you go again. Try for 5 minutes.
Triceps Kickbacks is one of the most popular arm exercises for men who want to develop that eye-catching horseshoe shape on their triceps. This exercise can be used as a warm-up or as a finisher because you don’t need to lift heavy dumbbells to see great results.
How To Perform Triceps Kickbacks
● Grab a light dumbbell, place the knee opposite the working arm on the edge of a flat bench. Stabilise your position by using the non-working arm to anchor your body to the bench.
● Pull the elbow back as if performing a rowing exercise. Hold the position where your lower arms are parallel to the floor. Keep your working arm close to the side of your body.
● Extend the elbow by kicking back the forearm. Hold the contracted position for a count of one.
● Resist the weight as you go back to the starting position.
● After you’ve completed the target number of reps, switch and repeat the exercise with the other arm.
Best Techniques To Grow Your Arms With Triceps Kickbacks
● Pre-Exhaustion – Perform reps to failure with both arms before doing Weighted Triceps Dips.
● Superset – Perform a set of Triceps Kickbacks after every set of Hammer Curls.
● Time Under Tension – Hold the fully-contracted position for 20 seconds then perform reps to failure.
Great guns are just 5 exercises away!
I’ve just shown you the best dumbbell exercises for biceps and triceps. Performing them consistently and with good form will give your arms size, shape, and strength.
For best results, train your arms twice-a-week, choose one workout technique per exercise, and change it up every session. This way, your muscles won’t adapt to the same stimulus and will continue to grow.
Matt Adams is the Co-Founder of Exercises.com.au, Australia’s premier exercise and fitness site, featuring over 500 exercise demonstration videos, training guides and advice on muscle building, strength training, toning, weight loss and nutrition.