Looking to get a serious pump and build that upper-body strength? We’ve got your back… and arms and core and shoulders. The dumbbell is a limitless tool with endless possibilities. It’s small and unassuming, and some athletes underestimate it. We argue that it’s a must-have for your training. Ready to get started? Here are five dumbbell arm exercises you won’t want to miss.
5 Dumbbell Arm Exercises for a Major Pump
1. Seated Dumbbell Presses
Seated presses are so different from standing presses. Even though you’re only pressing with your arms, when you’re standing, your lower half is still engaged. Not the case when you sit down. And as a result, you have to rely on your upper body even more. It’s a very different sensation and stimulus, and your core in particular has to work even harder to stabilize your upper body as you press overhead.
Remember that there’s more than one way to press. You can do it as you see in the video above. Or, you can turn it into a unilateral exercise and do one arm at a time. Spice things up by adding a tempo! Slow down the negative (read: the down-phase when you’re lowering the dumbbells) for a count of three or five. Brutal, but good!
This is one of those dumbbell arm exercises that we love because it works so much more than just your arms. With dumbbell rows, your back should be on fire too — specifically, that spot in between your shoulder blades. At the top of the movement, think of pinching them together and holding for a second before lowering again.
As with seated dumbbells presses, there are many variations for rows. You can do them folded at the hips, like you see in the above video. You can also do them upright or even kneeling.
Or! There’s an extra challenging row variation that brings you down to the floor. Let’s get to that one next.
3. Man Makers
Take your dumbbell arm exercises to whole new territory with — *drumroll* — the Man Maker.
Even the name is scary.
“But this includes a thruster! That’s not an arm exercise.” False! At least half of it is. The Man Maker packs a serious punch. If you want to get a lot out of one movement, this is the one to go with. Push-up into rows into a clean into a thruster? Sure, why not?
YTWs will indeed build muscle and strength, especially for those smaller, hard-to-reach muscles (that still have a big job to do). But it’s also a lot about maintaining shoulder health. It’s called “YTW” because you form the letters with your arms. Check it out.
These aren’t about going super heavy or moving as fast as possible. Choose a modest weight and go at a speed that really allows you to focus on the quality of the movement. Take your time. Your shoulders take a serious beating in the gym — give them the TLC that they deserve. Shoulder injuries are more common than they should be, and it’s largely because we spend plenty of time doing split jerks and toes-to-bar and not nearly enough time with the less exciting exercises like YTWs.
Incorporate YTWs into your warm-ups, cool-downs, or as part of your accessory exercises.
5. Dumbbell Bench Press
Ah, we love a good bench press.
You can do these on a bench or even on the floor. Bear in mind that when you do them on the floor, you don’t get quite the same range of motion, since you can only lower your elbows so far. (That limitation doesn’t exist with the bench.)
For a variation, try them on an incline, and don’t forget that you can incorporate a tempo or pause. For example, pause at the bottom of the movement for a count of two or three. Always stay on-tension and engaged, though! The quality of your form is still of utmost importance. Never sacrifice quality for the sake of a heavier weight or more reps.
That goes for all of the dumbbells arm exercises on this list.
While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, it gives you an excellent place to start if you’re looking to incorporate more dumbbell arm exercises into your training. The dumbbell might not look like anything fancy, but it’s one of your best friends in the gym.
Which one of these dumbbell arm exercises will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below!