A Simple Dumbbell Workout for Toned, Strong Upper Arms

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Just because colder weather is here and your arms are covered by long sleeves doesn’t mean you should neglect your arm workouts. Arm strength is important for many everyday activities, from carrying children to lugging laundry to reaching high to put away groceries on a shelf. Keep in mind, too, that strength training offers many benefits, from boosting our bone density to reducing risk for upper body injury. Not to mention – having more muscle means you burn more fat!

Woman Doing Dumbbell Arm Workout on Mat in Home Gym | Vitacost.com/blog

While there are plenty of arm exercises you can do without equipment, adding dumbbells to the mix is a great way to up your workout game. Here’s a simple plan you can use either at home or at the gym.

Gym or at-home dumbbell arm workout

For this workout, aim for two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps (to build strength) or 10-12 reps (for toning) for each of the exercises listed.

Equipment needed:

Dumbbells/hand weights (various sizes). Don’t have them? Substitute items from around your home such as canned goods, heavy pans, jugs of water, etc.

Warm up – arm circles

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with arms extended parallel to the floor. Circle arms forward in small controlled motions for about 10 seconds then reverse directions for another 10 seconds. Rest and repeat.

Target area: Triceps

Overhead extensions

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand behind your head. Lift the dumbbells until arms are extended fully staying close to your ears with palms facing the ceiling. Next, bend at the elbows and slowly lower dumbbells behind your head stopping at about a 45-degree angle, then push back up to starting position.


Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inwards. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and bend forward from the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Bring bent elbows to the sides of your chest. Next, extend elbows back behind you, keeping elbows close to your sides; hold for a count of 2, then return to starting position.

Skull crushers

Start by lying on your back (on the floor or a bench) with knees bent. With a dumbbell in each hand, lift arms above your chest, keeping elbows straight but not locked. Slowly lower both arms toward your shoulders, bending elbows to 90 degrees until they are on either side of your head; pause, then lift back to starting position.

Target area: Biceps

Bicep curls

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Fully extend arms by your sides. While keeping your elbows at your torso, curl the weights up to your shoulders at the same time concentrating on your biceps lifting the weights. Straighten arms back to beginning position.

Hammer curls

Begin by holding weights at your sides with palms facing inward. With your elbows at your sides, curl the weights up to your shoulders, then slowly extend arms back down to starting position.

Concentrated biceps curls

Stand behind an inclined bench. While holding a dumbbell in one hand rest that arm on the back of the bench for support, palm facing up. Lift the dumbbell up to your shoulder; pause, then lower it back down. Complete your reps, then switch arms.

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