The shoulders and arms are two of the crucial upper body muscles that involve in various activities, including the push and pull exercises.
Having firm arms and shoulders improve the torso appearance, maximize your performance, and minimize the risk of injuries.
You can bolster your delts, upper traps, biceps, and triceps with a set of dumbbells at home.
Dumbbells are an incredible piece of equipment that is easy to hold, provides a full range of motion, and allows you to train each muscle from multiple angles.
They also enable you to do unilateral movements (using one arm at a time). The unilateral exercises help work more on the weaker side, fix strength imbalance, and improve muscular symmetry.
In this article, I’ve shared the best dumbbell exercises and workout routines for arms and shoulders that will help you build strength and mass and makes your upper body look more aesthetic.
Whether you’re a male or male, beginner or intermediate, you can explore these exercises and routines if you want to build chiseled arms and shoulders at home.
Can You Train Arm and Shoulder Together?
Yes, you can train your arms and shoulders together to build strength and mass and improve muscle definition.
Arms and shoulders both comprise small muscles, such as the front delt, lateral delt, rear delt, upper traps, biceps, triceps, and forearms.
These muscles work during various movements, such as adduction, abduction, extension, and flexion, making it logical to train the shoulder and arms together.
All you need is a well-structured workout routine that combines all the different movements to hit your shoulder and arms safely and effectively within the same session.
List of Dumbbell Exercises for Arms and Shoulders
Here’s a complete list of arms and shoulder dumbbell exercises.
Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises (Primary Target Muscle)
- Overhead Press (Front Delt)
- Arnold Press (Front and Side Delt)
- Front Raises (Front Delt)
- Lateral Raises (Side Delt)
- Bent-arm Lateral Raises (Side Delt)
- Rear Delt Raises (Posterior Delt)
- Dumbbell Facepull (Posterior Delt)
- Shrug (Upper Traps)
Dumbbell Arms Exercises (Primary Targeted Muscle)
- French Press (Triceps)
- One-arm Overhead Triceps Extension (Triceps)
- Triceps Kickback (Triceps)
- Alternating Biceps Curl (Biceps)
- Incline Dumbbell Curl (Biceps)
- Concentration Curl (Biceps)
- Hammer Curl (Biceps)
- Wrist Curl (Forearms)
The Best Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises
Here are the best dumbbell exercises to hit your entire shoulders from all angles.
1. Dumbbell Overhead Press
How to perform: Grab a pair of dumbbells, sit on a 75-degree incline bench, bend your elbows, and hold them at your shoulder level. Press the dumbbells over your head until your arms are straight.
Mistakes to avoid: Don’t flare your elbows entirely outward. Instead, keep them slightly in to prevent injury.
2. Arnold Press
The Arnold press is an incredible push exercise that bolsters the front and medial delts and helps build chiseled shoulders.
How to do it: Grab one dumbbell in each hand, bend your elbows, and hold the dumbbell in front of your anterior delt with your palms facing in. Rotating your wrist, press the weight overhead until your arms are straight and palms facing forward.
Mistakes to avoid: It involves a twisting motion of the wrists as you press the dumbbells overhead. However, excessive twisting can strain the wrists and shoulders. Rotate the dumbbells smoothly without forcing the motion.
3. Front Raises
The front raise is an isolation exercise that primarily strengthens the anterior delt and makes your shoulders more defined and sculpted.
How to do it: Grab one dumbbell in each hand, stand upright, and keep your arms straight with your palms facing in. Raise the dumbbell alternatively in front of you until your arm is parallel to the floor.
Mistakes to avoid it: Avoid unnecessary movement to raise the weight; instead, lift the dumbbell using your arm only.
4. Dumbbell Lateral Raises
The dumbbell lateral raise bolsters the side deltoids and helps build sturdy and ripped shoulders.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and keep your arms straight at your sides, palms facing in. Raise the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms are parallel to the floor.
Common Tips: Push your hips back, slightly lean forward, maintain a soft bend in your elbows, and raise your arms 15-20 degrees in front of your shoulders.
5. Bent-arm Lateral Raises
The bent-arm lateral raise is another great exercise that highly activates the medial delt and helps build broad shoulders.
How to do it: Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand upright with your feet together. Bent your elbows, hold your arms at your sides with your palms facing each other. Raise the dumbbells out until your arms are parallel to the floor and your palms are pointing down.
6. Rear Delt Raises
The rear delt raises strengthen the posterior delt and upper trap, enhance shoulder health, and help improve posture.
How to do it: If you have a bench, sit on the edge of it and keep your feet flat on the floor. Grab one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, and bend your torso forward so your eyes look down. Keeping your back straight, raise the dumbbells out to the sides.
The dumbbell facepull simultaneously strengthens the trapezius, rear delt, and biceps and improves the upper body composition.
How to do it: Holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, stand in the hip-width stance. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lean forward until your chest is parallel to the ground. Keep your arms straight downward with your palms facing in. Pull the dumbbells up until your rear delt is fully engaged.
8. Dumbbell Shrug
The shrug is a strength and conditioning workout that strengthens your neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles.
Research shows that strengthening exercises like dumbbell shrug relieve neck pain in office workers who work long sitting hours at the desk. 1Effectiveness of training in office workers with neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis – South African Journal of Physiotherapy
So, combining dumbbell shrug with other exercises can improve shoulder stability, improve posture, and reduces the chances of injuries.
How to do it: Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand upright with your arms straight at your sides, palms facing in. Slightly bend your torso forward, raise the shoulder blades toward your ears, pause, and then let it down.
Common mistakes to avoid: Do not roll your shoulders during the movement. Instead, bring them up toward the ears and let them down.
The Best Dumbbell Exercises for Arms
Let’s explore the best dumbbell exercises that target the biceps, triceps, and forearms and help develop burly arms.
9. French Press/DB Skull Crusher
You don’t always need an EZ bar to do a skull crusher. You can also do it more efficiently with a pair of dumbbells. The dumbbell skull crusher helps target the tricep’s long and helps build muscular arms.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and lie on the bench. Bend your elbows and hold the dumbbells behind your head with your arms beside your ears. Keeping your elbows fixed, extend your forearms until you feel the contraction in your triceps muscle.
10. Dumbbell Kickback
The dumbbell kickback highly activates and engages triceps muscles2 ACE-sponsored Research: Best Triceps Exercises By Boehler B, Porcari JP, Kline D, Hendrix R, Foster C, Anders M. 2011, especially the long head and help you develop aesthetic arms.
Steps to do without a bench: Grab one dumbbell in your right hand with a neutral grip, and stand upright with your arm straight at your side, palm facing in. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and bring your torso parallel to the ground. Slightly raise your elbow, keep it tucked to your side, and kick your lower arms until you feel the contraction in your triceps.
11. Single-arm Overhead Triceps Extension
The single-arm tricep extension is a unilateral exercise, allowing you to hit each arm effectively at a time. So if you feel your one tricep is smaller than the other, you can do a one-arm tricep extension to fix this issue.
It also works the short head of the triceps, which will help you build study arms.
How to do it: Grab a dumbbell with your left hand with a neutral grip and hold it behind your head close to your right shoulder, elbow facing out. Lock your elbow, and raise your forearm only until your triceps are fully engaged.
Common Tip: Keep your elbow remain locked during the movement. Only your lower arms will be moving.
12. Alternating Biceps Curl
The alternating dumbbell bicep curl strengthens the bicep and helps forge solid arms.
You can do dumbbell biceps curl both in the seated and standing position. It entirely depends on what suits you the most.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip, assume a shoulder-width stance, and hold your arms straight in front of your thigh. Bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder until you feel the contraction in your biceps. And curl your arms alternatively.
Common mistakes to avoid: Do not forcefully squeeze the bicep muscles at the end of a curl. Instead, hold there naturally for a few seconds and then return to the start. Do not roll your shoulders back to bring your elbow forward but keep them tucked at your sides.
13. Dumbbell Hammer Curl
The hammer curl is crucial for overall arms development because it simultaneously strengthens the biceps and forearms.
How to perform: Holding a pair of dumbbells with a hammer grip, stand upright, and keep your arms straight at your sides, palms facing in. Bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder until your biceps are fully flexed. You can also do it using one arm at a time.
14. Dumbbell Concentration Curl
You can highly isolate your biceps muscles by doing the concentration curl. A study has revealed that concentration produces the highest bicep muscle activation among the eight exercises, including barbell curl, cable curl, chin up, and preacher curl. 3ACE Study Reveals Best Biceps Exercises – By Scott Young, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D. (2014)
It may be because the position allows you to concentrate more on your biceps during the exercise.
The study also suggested combining concentration curl with other exercises produces better results.
Let’s see how to do it: Sit on the end of a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grab a dumbbell with your left hand, lean forward, and place the back of your arm inside of your left thigh. Focusing on your biceps, flex your arm until your biceps is fully flexed.
15. Incline Dumbbell Curl
The standard and incline dumbbell curl is equally effective and produces similar muscle activation in the biceps.4Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MA, Vieira TM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii EMG in different dumbbell curls. J Sports Sci Med. 2009;8(1):24-29. Published 2009 Mar 1 Combining both helps target the biceps from different angles and helps develop sturdy arms.
How to perform it: Lie on a 45-degree incline bench, holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip. Twisting your arms, bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders until the palms face inward.
16. Dumbbell Wrist Curl
The dumbbell wrist curl primarily isolates the forearms, increases wrist mobility, and bolsters arm strength.
How to perform: Grab a dumbbell in your right hand with an underhand grip. Place your forearm on the bench so your wrist is on edge. Curl your wrist as much as possible so you feel the contraction in your forearm muscles.
The Ultimate Dumbbell Arm and Shoulder Workout Routine
You can train your shoulder and arms using different rep-set methods, such as Superset and Triset.
Here are a few examples of dumbbell arms and shoulder workout routines to build muscles.
Example 1 – Standard Rep Set Workout
This routine involves training the delts, biceps, and triceps through the conventional rep-set scheme, meaning one exercise at a time. It is suitable for all fitness enthusiasts, from beginners to experienced.
|Lateral Delt Raises||10-12||3||1-min|
|Rear Delt Raises||10-12||3||2-min|
|One-arm Triceps Extension||10/arm||3||1-min|
|Incline DB Curl||8-10||3||1-min|
Example 2 – Dumbbell Arms and Shoulder Superset Workout
The superset training involves performing exercises in pairs that target the two different muscles. It is an effective and time-efficient approach to building strength and mass.
|Overhead Press + Alternating DB Curl||8-10||2-3|
|Lateral Delt Raises + Incline DB Curl||10-12||2-3|
|Rear Delt Raises + DB Skull Crusher||10-12||2-3|
|Shrug + One-arm Triceps Extension||10-12||2-3|
|Hammer Curl + Triceps Kickback||10/arm||1-2|
Example 3 – Arms and Shoulders Dumbbell Triset Workout
The Triset involves performing three exercises in a row with no rest between them. It is an excellent way to target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders in less time than the traditional and superset method.
|Overhead Press + Incline DB Curl + French Press||8-10||2|
|Lateral Delt Raises + Concentration Curl + Kickback||10-12||2|
|Rear Delt Raises + Hammer Curl + 1-arm OH Extension||10-12||2|
|Facepull + Shrug + Wrist Curl||10-12||2|
How Often Should You Train Shoulder and Arms?
You can train your arms and shoulders once to twice weekly, depending on your schedule, fitness level, and goal.
Once a week is enough to maintain strength and size, but if you want to maximize mass growth, you can hit your shoulder and arms two times weekly.
You can follow one of these schedules to reach your fitness goal.
- Monday – Chest and Quads
- Wednesday – Shoulder and Arms
- Friday – Back and Hamstrings
- Saturday – Glutes and Core
- Monday – Chest, Quads, and Glutes
- Tuesday – Shoulder and Arms
- Wednesday – Back, Hamstrings, and Core
- Thursday – Chest, Quads, and Glutes
- Friday – Shoulder and Arms
- Saturday – Chest, Quads, and Glutes
You may also like: If you need a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, effective dumbbell workout program that you can follow at your own pace, you can explore this ultimate guide.
- 1Effectiveness of training in office workers with neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis – South African Journal of Physiotherapy
- 2ACE-sponsored Research: Best Triceps Exercises By Boehler B, Porcari JP, Kline D, Hendrix R, Foster C, Anders M. 2011
- 3ACE Study Reveals Best Biceps Exercises – By Scott Young, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D. (2014)
- 4Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MA, Vieira TM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii EMG in different dumbbell curls. J Sports Sci Med. 2009;8(1):24-29. Published 2009 Mar 1