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You Can Sculpt And Strengthen Your Arms Like Crazy Only Using Dumbbells

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20 Dumbbell Exercises For Seriously Sculpted ArmsHearst Owned

If having toned,strong arms, like J.Lo, Brie Larson, or Natalie Portman, is one of your goals this year, it's honestly pretty doable and easy to get started. All you need to build seriously strong arms is a pair of dumbbells, about 15 minutes, and this list of the absolute best arm toning exercises (like chest press, single-arm row, triceps kickback, biceps curl, and more) to make your own arm workout.

You don't need a complicated workout split or a gym full of fancy equipment to make real progress with your arm workouts. Small-but-mighty dumbbells make it possible to work all of your arm muscles—think your delts (shoulders), biceps (fronts of your upper arms), and triceps (backs of your upper arms)—from pretty much anywhere, whether it's at the gym or in your bedroom.

Meet the expert: Tatiana Lampa, CPT, is a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in nutrition and exercise sciences. She created the Training with T App and Move Better program.

And yes, strength training is *key* if you want to sculpt your arms. Your best bet is to incorporate a variety of arm exercises into your workouts regularly (two to three times a week). You can either incorporate them into full-body or upper-body workouts, or dedicate a few sessions per week specifically to arm workouts with weights.


Time: 15 minutes | Equipment: dumbbells | Good for: arms

Instructions: For a full arm workout, choose six moves from the list below. Perform 12 reps of each, then continue to the next move without a break. When you finish all six, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat three more times for a total of four rounds.

Trainer tip: To work your arms from all angles, choose two exercises that target your biceps (think: curls), two that light up your triceps (think dips), and two that'll make your shoulders burn (think upright rows).


Biceps Curl

How to:

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells at sides. Palms should be facing forward with back straight and chest upright.

  2. Without moving upper arms, bend elbows and bring weights up toward shoulders.

  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position with control. That's 1 rep.

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Cactus Arms

How to:

  1. Start standing on the mat, feet hip-width apart.

  2. Holding dumbbells in both hands, bring elbows together and up so arms form 90-degree angles and elbows are at shoulder height.

  3. Keeping core stable, open elbows as wide as possible.

  4. Bring them together again. That's 1 rep.


Upright Row

How to:

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart, with arms resting in front of body and a dumbbell in each hand.

  2. Lift dumbbells by raising elbows until they reach chest-level.

  3. Slowly lower them back down to waist with control, and repeat. That's 1 rep.


Lying Overhead Triceps Extension

How to:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet placed flat on the ground, about a foot from butt.

  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend arms up over shoulders, palms facing toward each other.

  3. Slowly bend at the elbows to bring weights toward floor, close to temples.

  4. Pause, then, slowly extend arms to bring the weights back overhead. That's 1 rep.


Alternating Bent-Over Row

How to:

  1. Start with feet hip-distance apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other.

  2. Hinge at hips, keeping head in line with tailbone.

  3. Bracing core, pull right elbow back until right wrist is near ribs.

  4. Lower with control to return to start position.

  5. Bracing core, pull left elbow back until left wrist is near ribs.

  6. Lower with control to return to start. That's 1 rep.

Trainer tip: For any single-side moves, don't forget to switch sides and complete all the reps on the other side before moving on.


Triceps Kickback

How to:

  1. Start standing with feet two-fists-width apart with knees bent.

  2. Lean forward slightly, with a dumbbell in each hand and elbows at 90-degrees by sides.

  3. Press dumbbells back and up, and as you straighten arms, squeeze triceps.

  4. Lower weights with control to return to start. That's 1 rep.


Curtsy Lunge with Biceps Curl

How to:

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand.

  2. Take a big step back with right leg, crossing it behind left while keeping hips facing forward.

  3. Bend knees and lower down until the right knee almost touches the floor. At the same time, bend elbows and bring the weights toward shoulders, keeping elbows pointing down.

  4. Step through left heel as you come to start, standing tall. That's 1 rep.


Renegade Row

How to:

  1. Start in plank position, holding dumbbells in either hand on the ground.

  2. Pull right elbow toward the ceiling until right wrist is near ribs, then return it to floor.

  3. Repeat on opposite side. That's 1 rep.


Rear Delt Fly

How to:

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.

  2. Hinge at the hips and let arms hang straight down from shoulders, palms facing your body, holding a pair of dumbbells.

  3. Raise both arms out to the sides with elbows slightly bent and squeeze shoulder blades together.

  4. Lower weights with control to return to start. That's 1 rep.


Alternating Military Press

How to:

  1. Start kneeling with right leg forward, tailbone tucked and core engaged.

  2. Bring elbows up and out so arms form 90-degree angles, like a field goal, with dumbbells in hands.

  3. Press right arm up to straight, until right bicep is near right ear.

  4. Lower down to return to field goal position.

  5. Repeat with left arm. That's 1 rep.


Triceps Dip

How to:

  1. Start seated in a chair and grip the front edges with both hands.

  2. Scoot butt forward until it's hovering just off the seat and legs form 90-degree angles and straighten arms.

  3. Lower body down until elbows form 90-degree angles.

  4. Engage the back of your arms to press back to start. That's 1 rep.


Seated Arnold Press

How to:

  1. Start seated with legs fully extended out in front of body with a slight bend in knees.

  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of face with palms facing each other and elbows forming 90-degree angles.

  3. Creating a slight upward arc motion, open elbows up and out to sides until palms face forward.

  4. Following the same arc, bring elbows down and back together. That's 1 rep.


Overhead Triceps Extension

How to:

  1. Start standing, gripping one dumbbell with both hands, and lift the weight overhead, arms straight, feet hip-width apart.

  2. Keeping upper arms by ears, bend elbows to lower the weight slowly behind your head and pause.

  3. Straighten arms, returning to start. That's 1 rep.


Dumbbell Floor Press

How to:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet placed flat on the ground, about a foot from butt.

  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend arms up over shoulders, palms facing toward each other.

  3. With control, bend arms and lower them to sides until triceps touch the floor (dumbbells will still be over wrists). Elbows should form a 45-degree angle with the body.

  4. Slowly reverse the movement and return to start. That's 1 rep.


Plank with Biceps Curl

How to:

  1. Start in plank position, with dumbbells in hands on the ground, directly beneath shoulders.

  2. Keep core and hips stable, slowly bringing the right dumbbell toward right shoulder.

  3. Lower it back down with control.

  4. Repeat on the other side. That's 1 rep.


Single-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press

How to:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  2. Hold a dumbbell in right hand with elbow bent and tricep resting on the ground. Elbow should form a 45-degree angle with body.

  3. Press dumbbell and extend arm upward over chest, palm facing away from you.

  4. Reverse the movement with control and return to start. That's 1 rep.

  5. Complete all reps on one side, then switch arms.


Write Your Name

How to:

  1. Start standing holding a single dumbbell in both hands.

  2. Extend arms out in front at chest height.

  3. Slowly and with control, write your name in the air. Each letter is 1 rep.


Alternating Dumbbell Floor Press

How to:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet placed flat on the ground.

  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest upper arms on floor with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Upper arm should form a 45 degree angle with your body.

  3. Extend right arm up above shoulder under straight.

  4. Slowly bend right arm and lower it to the side, until right elbow touches the ground.

  5. Repeat on the right side. That's 1 rep.


Alternating Front and Lateral Raise

How to:

  1. Stand with knees slightly bent, feet hips distance apart, and arms extended at sides holding dumbbells in each hand.

  2. Raise arms in front until hands reach shoulder height.

  3. Lower arms with control to sides.

  4. Raise arms out wide until parallel to the floor.

  5. Lower arms slowly to return to start. That’s 1 rep.


Arm Workouts FAQ

How can I tone my arms fast?

Two components have to be in play for you to tone your arms fast. First, work on muscular endurance, says Lampa. "We want to challenge the arms to the point of fatigue," she says. Instead of lifting heavy for fewer reps, decrease the weight and increase the reps to level up endurance.

The second part is consuming enough protein. "Protein really does matter because it helps build muscle in the body," Lampa says. She recommends eating 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal, including snacks. For example, try turkey jerky, cottage cheese or oatmeal with collagen protein, she says. Throughout the rest of the day, aim for lean protein sources.

How long does it take to get toned arms?

Even with these effective arm exercises above, toned arms won't come overnight. It takes a minimum of three months to see that definition, Lampa says. There's a possibility that you can see faster results if you prioritize protein for building muscle. Plus, your starting fitness level impacts the timeframe, too.

How often should women train arms?

If you really want to see a change in your arms, aim for two to four arm workouts a week, Lampa says. Ideally, you want to focus on different muscle groups during each session. That could mean focusing on your back one day, chest the second day, and biceps, triceps, and shoulders on the third day.

Another effective way to organize your arm workouts is grouping two complementary areas together in a session. For instance, you could do back and biceps on day one, chest and triceps on day two, and all arms on day three.

It's also a smart move to switch up your programming after six to 12 weeks of doing the same schedule, according to Lampa, to continue challenging your muscles.

What are the best arm toning exercises?

All of the above moves are effective for achieving your strong, toned arm goals. A few favorite arm toning exercises of Lampa's include a lat pulldown, chest press, pushup, single arm row, lateral raise, triceps kickback, biceps curl, and rear delt fly.

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