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The 5 Best Dumbbell Exercises to Sculpt Your Arms

Are you looking for a way to get sculpted arms without expensive gym equipment? Look no further than a set of dumbbells and the right exercises. While many dumbbell exercises can help you tone and sculpt your arms, some are better than others.

And that's precisely why we've built this guide - with the following 5 dumbbell arm exercises, you can easily tone and strengthen your arms from the comfort of your home, or wherever you like. In this article, we'll cover how to perform each exercise safely and effectively. Get ready to show off those toned and strong arms!

Without further ado, here are the 5 best dumbbell exercises to help shape your arms:

  1. Tricep Kickback
  2. Lateral Raises
  3. Chest Press
  4. Shoulder Press
  5. Front Raises

Ready to give your arms a makeover? Perfect, let's take a closer look at the 5 dumbbell arm exercises and how to perform them correctly.

5 Best Dumbbell Arm Exercises for a Toned Look

If you're wondering whether you can tone your arms with a dumbbell arm workout, the answer is an emphatic yes! Although primitive, dumbbells are extremely effective for toning your arms and upper body - all you need is a few tried-and-true exercises which are what we'll cover.

Be sure to use lighter weights in the beginning. Learn the move properly with a full range of motion. If the weights are too heavy, you will be straining your muscles instead of properly working them.

Before you jump into our list of the 5 best dumbbell arm exercises below, make sure to warm up properly, which you should do before any workout.

This means doing some dynamic stretches with a special focus on your upper body and upper arms, this will help get your heart going, your body warmed up, and your arms loosened up.With your warm-up completed, here are the 5 exercises to toned arms.

1. Standing Tricep Kickbacks: 3 Sets x 12 Reps

Just behind the triangle push-up, tricep kickbacks are considered the second most effective exercise for working your triceps. But the beauty of kickbacks is they're far more approachable than triangle push-ups, making this a more accessible exercise for your upper arms, and therefore effective for a wider group.

  • Step 1:Grab a dumbbell in each hand with your knees slightly bent, hinging at the hips with a straight spine. This will give you maximum stability when performing this exercise.
  • Step 2:Pull your elbows into your sides while keeping your elbows slightly bent at the same time. Now, with your palms facing each other, thrust the dumbbells back while maintaining upper arm control, and straighten your elbows. 
  • Step 3:When your elbows are completely straight, try to squeeze your tricep muscles while pushing the dumbbells up and toward the ceiling.
  • Step 4:With your arms bent slightly at the elbows, and bring the dumbbells down and to your starting position.
  • Step 5:Repeat.

Muscles Targeted: 

This exercise is ideal for working your tricep and upper arm muscles, primarily the long head of the tricep. It’s also a great way to work on your posture and stability as you are forced to keep your shoulder blades drawn back throughout the exercise. Additionally, it hits your forearms and abs in the process.

If you're looking for dumbbell arm exercises that focus entirely on stronger triceps and biceps, you'll want to give this 6-move workout a go.

2. Lateral Raises: 3 Sets x 12 Reps

Your shoulders are the lynchpins to your arms, not to mention one of the most noticeable muscle groups in your upper body.

Proper form is critical - so make sure you maintain control during the entire move, this means slow and steady is always the best approach. Also, keep your arms straight during the move, and resist the urge to shrug your shoulders.

  • Step 1:Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, and holding your dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inward. Be sure to keep your feet flat throughout the entire move.
  • Step 2:Raise the weights to shoulder height while keeping your arms straight. The highest point should be parallel to the floor.
  • Step 3: Pause.
  • Step 4:Slowly lower the weights down and focus on maintaining control of the weights, until you reach the start position.
  • Step 5:Repeat.

Muscles Targeted: 

Lateral raises focus on your shoulders with a heavy emphasis on the deltoid muscles. Additionally, other muscles in your upper arm and back, as well as your core are all engaged in the move.

If you want to try other shoulder dumbbell arm exercises, check out these 5 moves for toned shoulders.

3. Standing Chest Fly:3 Sets x 12 Reps

As you can probably guess, the standing chest fly works your chest muscles, but if done properly, it will also engage your shoulders and arms. Plus, it does so without adding bulk.

  • Step 1:Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Step 2:Raise your arms to 90-degree angles, so that your bicep is parallel to the ground, and your wrists form a plumb line down to your elbows. You want your palms facing forward in this position. This will be your starting position.
  • Step 3:Slowly squeeze your arms in front of your body, so that your elbows nearly touch, all while maintaining a 90-degree angle at your arms.
  • Step 4:Rotate your arms back to the starting position.
  • Step 5:Repeat.

Muscles Targeted: 

The standing chest fly works your pectoral muscles, particularly the lower part. It also engages your biceps and triceps as well as your rotator cuff muscles. To really make this exercise effective, focus on form and control throughout each rep.

Unfortunately, many women are falsely under the impression that working the chest muscles will make them look less feminine but don't fall prey to the rumor. There are many benefits of chest workouts - one of which is giving the appearance of lifting your breasts. To get started, check out these 5 compound movements for a more toned chest.

4. Shoulder Press:3 Sets x 12 Reps

Ready to feel the burn? This exercise is a great way to get your arms and shoulders in shape while engaging multiple muscle groups. It's easy to do, even if you're sitting or standing!The key to getting the most out of a shoulder press is to keep your back straight and engage your core.

  • Step 1:Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Step 2:Rotate your hands, with your palms facing each other, and rest the dumbbells on your shoulders.
  • Step 3:Thrust the dumbbells up to the ceiling and turn them in the process with your palms facing forward now.
  • Step 4:Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders, while rotating your palms back so they face each other, keeping your upper arms stationary when resting the dumbbells on your shoulders.
  • Step 5:Repeat.

Muscles Targeted:

The shoulder press is the classic exercise for your deltoids - working both your front and middle heads of the shoulders. While this move also gives your trapezius, triceps, and chest muscles a good workout as well.

5. Front Raises: 3 Sets x 12 Reps

Try your best to avoid letting the weights swing your body during this move. You should be in control the whole time - if you find this difficult, try lowering the weights or inhaling as you raise your arms. You might also try widening your feet.

During this move, we'd recommend alternating your arms. So if you raise your left arm, you would keep your right arm in the starting position, and vice versa. This will help you maintain balance and control better than the other.

  • Step 1:With your feet hip-width apart, grab a dumbbell in each hand, and let your arms hang straight down and rest at your sides. Your palms will be facing inward.
  • Step 2:Raise your arms straight in front of your body until your arms become completely parallel to the floor, which should be shoulder height. Think Frankenstein's monster for where your arms should end up.
  • Step 3:Pause.
  • Step 4:With control, slowly lower your arms back to your sides in a starting position.
  • Step 5:Repeat.

Muscles Targeted:

The front raise primarily works the anterior deltoid, your shoulder's main muscle group. This exercise also engages your trapezius and rhomboid muscles in your upper back. And of course, your arms. Bonus - this move helps stabilize and strengthen your core.

This is why the front raise made our list of the 5 best dumbbell arm exercises - and that's because it's such a multi-purpose move.

6 Tips To Remember Before Arm Workouts

Ready to make those biceps and triceps look amazing?Here are 6 tips to ensure your arm workout routine helps you get there:

  1. Warm-up and cool down
  2. Start with lighter weights to get the full range of motion
  3. No swinging or momentum
  4. Control your movements
  5. Keep breathing
  6. Increase reps and weights as your strength builds

Get the most bang for your workout buck and steer clear of any potential injuries by following these easy tips. Need more info? Here's what you need to know about each tip.

1. Always Warm Up and Cool Down

It's important to remember to warm up your muscles before working them out. A good way to do this is by using some light weights to get your arms moving and get the blood flowing. This is a great example of dynamic stretching.

After your workout, be sure to stretch your arms out again and cool down properly. It's okay to do the typical static stretching here - that's the kind of stretching you most likely learned in phys ed class. This will help avoid any cramping or soreness the next day. 

2. Master The Motion With Lighter Weights

When first starting out, it's important to use lighter weights so that you can focus on getting the full range of motion for each move. Once you have perfected your form, then you can start increasing the amount of weight you're using. 

3. Stay in Control of Your Movements

It may be tempting to swing the weights around or use momentum to power through a move, but this takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise and puts unnecessary strain on your joints.

Instead, focus on using only your muscles to lift the weight and really feel the burn! slow and steady truly wins the race here. So don't try to go for speed.

4. Return Slowly to the Start of the Movement 

Resist the urge to drop the weights back down quickly after completing a move. Instead, take a few seconds to slowly return to the starting position.This places less stress on your joints and allows your muscles time to recover before doing another rep. 

Plus, this is where the extra emphasis is added to working your muscles.

5. Remember to Breathe

Make sure you're keeping up with your breathing as you work out! It can be easy to hold your breath when lifting heavy weights, but this can cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded. So be sure to take a breath in between each rep.

A general rule to follow here is to inhale as you lower the weight back down and exhale as you raise it back up again. In other words, breathe in as you rest, and breathe out as you work.

6. Increase Reps and Weights as You IncreaseYour Strength

The last tip is probably the most important one: don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately! It takes time and dedication to see results from any type of workout routine.

Just keep at it and eventually, you'll start seeing those gains!And as you build up more strength, you can begin increasing both the number of reps per set as well as the amount of weight you're lifting. Soon enough, those arms will be looking amazing!

All It Takes is 5 Moves and Dedication

With just 5 simple moves, you can get the toned arms you've been dreaming of! Just remember to warm up and cool down properly before and after your workout, use lighter weights until you master the motion, control your movements, keep breathing, and increase reps/weights as your strength builds.

And don't forget - with dedication and consistency, you will see results! So go ahead and get started today. You've got this!