Top 16 Dumbbell Exercises for Arms and Shoulders

In a home workout series of dumbbell exercises, today I will share as many as sixteen dumbbell exercises for arms and shoulders in this article. These dumbbell workouts will help you increase strength, mass and develop the aesthetic shoulders and arm at home.

Everyone wants to have solid arms and shoulders. And for that, they do plenty of exercises to achieve their goal. However, not everyone gets the results they want because not everyone’s body responds in the same way.

And if you’re still in the process or just started to forge arm and shoulder, but you only have dumbbells to workout, you can do the exercises I’ve shared in this post.

You can also save: 6 Day Dumbbell Workout (The Ultimate Plan With PDF)

A Little Things to Know About Shoulders, Triceps and Biceps

Shoulders

If you want to build shoulders that are not only stronger but also attractive, you’ll need to work out each part of shoulders efficiently, such as anterior, medial, and rear deltoid. And dumbbell exercises help you to do that.

Triceps

The tricep is the largest muscle of the arms, and without solid triceps, your arms will look underdeveloped. That’s why you need to build them up with strength exercises.

The triceps muscle has three heads – long, lateral, and medial. And to build defined arms, you’ll need to workouts for both muscles.

You can do triceps exercises with various equipment, such as barbells, machines, and dumbbells. But, if you have a pair of dumbbells at home, you can do some of the most effective triceps exercises, such as kickback, overhead triceps extension, and crush grip pushup.

Biceps

The bicep is two-headed muscles: the long and short head. And with dumbbells, you can easily and effectively strengthen both heads.

Related: 10 Best Dumbbell Biceps Workout For Stronger Arms

Why are dumbbells better for arms and shoulder workouts?

Barbell allows you to lift heavy, but dumbbells allow a better range of motion so you can target the muscles more specifically.

Dumbbells also enable you to do unilateral movements, using one arm or leg at a time so that you can work more on the poorer side and balance strength.

So, if one side of your shoulders is weaker than the other, or your left arm is less strong than the right, doing workouts with dumbbells will be the best way to fix this issue.

Can you do arm and shoulders exercises together?

Yes, you can do arm and shoulders workouts together on the same day, whether you work out with dumbbells, barbells, or machines.

Shoulder workouts include both push and pull movements, such as overhead press, upright row, lateral raises, and dumbbell face pull.

And, during the push movements, your front and side shoulders, and triceps muscles engage, while during the pull movements, your rear shoulders and biceps work.

So, training your shoulders, triceps, and biceps together will be beneficial. And, along with shoulder exercises, you can do specific dumbbell exercises for biceps and triceps.

You may also like: Top 10 Barbell Shoulder Exercises For Growth

Standing Dumbbell Exercises For Arms and Shoulders

In case you have no bench at home, no problem. You can still do various workouts to build your arm and shoulder with dumbbells only.

Here’s a list of exercises you can do in the standing position:

ShoulderArms
Dumbbell Overhead PressBehind The Neck Tricep Extension
Dumbbell Front RaisesDumbbell Kickback
Dumbbell Lateral RaisesSingle-arm Triceps Extension
Dumbbell Upright RowStanding Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Dumbbell ShrugDumbbell Hammer Curl
Dumbbell Face Pull
standing dumbbell exercises for arms and shoulders

You can also incorporate more dumbbell exercises for the arm and shoulder to build strength and muscles in your workout routine. I’ll share them later in this article.

Okay, so let’s see more about the above workouts and how you can do them with dumbbells.

1. Dumbbell Overhead Press

Dumbbell Exercises Shoulders
Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press

The overhead press is one of the primary workouts that build muscular shoulders.

It allows you to lift heavier loads than other shoulder exercises and helps you grow strength and mass.

It is suitable for all fitness levels. So whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, if you work out at home with dumbbells only, you can incorporate it into your muscle-building workout routine.

How to perform:

Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your shoulder level in the standing position.

Press the dumbbells over your head until your arms are entirely straight.

Common mistakes to avoid:

Don’t flare your elbows entirely outward. Instead, keep them slightly inward so you can effectively target deltoids.

Do not arc your body. Instead, keep it upright and perform each rep in a controlled fashion.


2. Front Raises

Standing Dumbbell Exercises for Shoulder
Dumbbell Front Raises

The most noticeable part of the shoulder is the anterior deltoid. It is one of the muscles your pals and gals notice when you open your tee or shirt. So if you want to make it attractive and muscular, you can do dumbbell front raises.

The front raise is an isolation workout and specifically strengthens your shoulders’ front part.

How to do it:

The best way to do front raise is alternate front raises. And to do it, grab one dumbbell in each hand, stand upright and keep your arms straight in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Then, raise the dumbbell alternately in front of you until your arm is just above your shoulder height.

Tips:

  • Use the dumbbells that you can lift with proper form.
  • Avoid creating an unnecessary movement to raise the weight as it reduces this movement’s effectiveness. Instead, lift the dumbbell using your arm only.

3. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Shoulder and back workout at home with dumbbells
Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral raise help you build the side muscles of your shoulders more specifically. 

You can incorporate dumbbell lateral raise with any workout, whether training your chest or arms.

How to do it:

Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand upright and keep your arms straight at your sides, palms facing in. Raise the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms are just above your shoulder height.

Tips:

  • Keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Maintain upright posture throughout the movement.

4. Dumbbell Upright Row

shoulder and back workouts with dumbbells
Upright Row with Dumbbells

To add more definition to your shoulders, you can do a dumbbell upright row.

The upright row works simultaneously on the deltoids and upper back and helps you build a muscular upper body.

It is typically done with a barbell. However, a dumbbell upright row is equally effective for strengthening muscles.

How to perform:

Holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, stand straight, and keep your arms straight in front of your thighs. Pull the dumbbells toward your chin (as high as possible) until you feel the contraction in your shoulders and upper back.

Pro Tips:


5. Dumbbell Shrug

back and shoulder workout with dumbbells
Dumbbell Shrug

The shoulder 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.2 Effectiveness 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 shoulder exercises improves stability and reduces injuries.

How to perform:

Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand upright with your arms are 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.


6. Dumbbell Face Pull For Shoulders, Arms, and Back

The dumbbell face pull workout simultaneously strengthens the shoulder, upper back, and arms (biceps).

It is an alternative to chest-supported row and cable face pull.

If you want to work more on your rear deltoid, you can do DB face pull. Otherwise, you can do it as an alternative to reverse fly.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a shoulder-width stance by holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees and lean forward until your chest is parallel to the ground.
  3. Keep your arms straight downward with your palms facing in (not each other).
  4. Pull the dumbbells up until your elbows across your face.

Suggestion:

  1. Do this exercise with a full range of motion.
  2. Maintain neutral spine position throughout the movement.
  3. Avoid if you’ve low back pain.

7. Dumbbell Behind The Neck Tricep Extension

Dumbbell Exercises For Arms And Shoulders

“Behind the neck tricep extension” is an isolation workout that strengthens the long head muscle of the triceps.

You can do it both in the seated and standing positions. Depending on what suits you the best, you can do any of them.

How to perform:

Grab the top of a dumbbell with both your hands. And hold it behind your neck with your elbows bent and pointing forward. Next, extend your arms toward the ceiling until you feel the complete tricep contraction.

Common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Do not flare your elbows entirely outward. Keep them beside your ears.
  2. Your elbows should be remain locked during the movement. Only your lower arms will be moving.

8. Dumbbell Kickback

Standing dumbbell triceps exercises
Triceps Kickback

When it comes to building sturdy triceps, you must do kickback. 

The dumbbell kickback highly activates and engages triceps muscles3 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.

How to perform:

You can do dumbbell kickback in multiple ways, such as on an incline bench, flat bench, and without bench; single-arm and both arms.

The best way to do this is on a 45-degree incline bench. Otherwise, you can do it without a bench.

Steps to do without a bench:

Grab one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, stand upright with your arms are straight at your sides, palms facing in. Push your hips back, bend your knees and bring your torso parallel to the ground. Slightly raise your elbows, keep them fixed, and kick your lower arms back until you feel the contraction in your triceps.

Pro tips.

  1. Only your forearms will be moving during the exercise.
  2. Hold at the extension for a couple of seconds before you bring your forearms to the start
  3. Keep your upper arms besides (close to) your body.

9. Single-arm Overhead Triceps Extension

Single-arm Overhead Triceps Extension

The single-arm tricep extension allows you to build up one arm 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.


10. Standing Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Arm and shoulder workout with dumbbells

To forge your arms, you’ll need to work equally on your triceps and biceps. You’ve seen some of the best triceps exercises, and now I’ll share some dumbbell bicep workouts.

The first one is a standard dumbbell bicep curl. It strengthens the bicep and develops solid arms.

You can do dumbbell bicep both in the seated and standing position and with single-arm, alternate, or using both arms at a time. It entirely depends on what suits you the most.

Let’s see how to perform standing dumbbell alternate bicep curl.

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 couple of seconds and then return to the start.
  • Do not roll your shoulders back to bring your elbow forward. Instead, keep your arms tucked at your sides.

11. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Standing dumbbell workout for biceps
Hammer Curl

The hammer curl may not create as much contraction as other bicep curls, but it is crucial for arm workouts because it strengthens the biceps and forearms simultaneously.

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. And curl your arms alternatively.


Dumbbell Arms and Shoulder Workouts with a Bench

You can do more dumbbell exercises for your shoulders and arms if you have a flexible workout bench at home.

Those workouts are:

  • Seated Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly
  • Lying Dumbbell Skull Crusher
  • Concentration Curl
  • Dumbbell Incline Curl
  • Dumbbell Wrist Curl

12. Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

Dumbbell workouts for arms and shoulder

You must not skip training your rear deltoid because your shoulders won’t look entirely developed if your rear delt isn’t sturdy.

You can strengthen the back muscles of the shoulders with a dumbbell rear delt fly.

The rear delt fly also works on the upper trap and helps you develop defined shoulders.

How to perform:

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, bend your torso forward so your eyes look down. Keeping your back straight, raise the dumbbells out to the sides.


13. Lying Dumbbell Skull Crusher

You don’t always need an EZ bar to do a skull crusher. You can also do lying tricep extension more efficiently with a pair of dumbbells.

You’ll have more control over the range of motion if you do with the dumbbells; thus, you can target the triceps more effectively.

How to perform:

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.

You can also do it on an incline bench or the floor.


14. Dumbbell Concentration Curl

Dumbbell Concentration Curl
Concentration Curl

You can highly isolate your biceps muscles doing the concentration curl.

A study demonstrated that concentration produces the highest bicep muscle activation among the eight exercises, including barbell curl, cable curl, chin up, and preacher curl.4 ACE 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.

How to perform:

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, bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder until your arm flexes. Do the suggested reps equally on both sides.


15. Incline Dumbbell Curl

The standard and incline dumbbell curl is equally effective and produces similar muscle activation in the biceps.5Oliveira 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 allows you to target the biceps muscles at a different angle and help you develop sturdy arms.

How to perform:

Lie on a 45-degree incline bench, holding a pair of the dumbbell with a neutral grip. Twisting your arms, bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders until the palms face inward.


16. Dumbbell Wrist Curl

You need to work on the muscles you want to strengthen, whether shoulders or forearms.

And, you can build up your forearms specifically with the dumbbell wrist curls.

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.

Superset Dumbbell Workout Routine For Arm and Shoulder At Home (No Bench)

Rounds: 2 for beginners, and 3 for intermediate

Reps: 10/exercise; Rest: As little as possible.

Workout
Dumbbell Overhead Press
Behind The Neck Tricep Extension
Standing Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Dumbbell Front Raises
Dumbbell Kickback
Hammer Curl
Dumbbell Face Pull
Single-arm Triceps Extension
Dumbbell Upright Row
Dumbbell superset workout routine for arm and shoulders

Superset Workout Routine For Arms and Shoulder with Dumbbells

You can do this routine – if you have a flexible workout bench at home.

Rounds: 2 for beginners, and 3 for experienced

Reps: 10/exercise; Rest: As short as possible.

Workout
Dumbbell Overhead Press
Behind The Neck Tricep Extension
Standing Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Dumbbell Front Raises
Dumbbell Kickback
Concentration Curl
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Lying Tricep Extension
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Rear Delt Raises
Single-arm Triceps Extension
Wrist Curl
Dumbbell Upright Row
superset arm and shoulder workout routine with dumbbells

You can do more dumbbell exercises for your arms and shoulders, but doing them all isn’t necessary. The crucial thing is doing the same exercises over and over will help you achieve your goal. But make sure you increase the load and intensity of the workout.

Related Articles:

References