15 Best Dumbbell Workouts for Arms and Chest

For those who train with dumbbells, I’ve got the best dumbbell workouts for arms and chest. These exercises will help you increase mass and strength and build a muscular upper body. So whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, you can do them to build muscle at home.

Benefits of Doing Arm and Chest Workout with Dumbbells

  • The dumbbells provide a full range of motion and help you target each muscle specifically.
  • They allow you do unilateral exercises, meaning you can work out using one arm at a time. Unilateral exercises will help you focus on your weaker part and fix muscle imbalance.
  • Dumbbells are adaptable and efficient you can use them anywhere you like, such as at home and the gym.

List of the best Dumbbell Workouts for Arms and Chest

ChestTricepsBiceps
Flat Dumbbell Bench PressIncline Dumbbell French PressStandard Curl
Incline Dumbbell Bench PressDB Overhead Triceps ExtensionConcentration Curl
Dumbbell FlyDumbbell KickbackHammer Curl
Dumbbell Squeeze PressSingle-arm Overhead Tricep ExtensionIncline Curl
Dumbbell PulloverDumbbell Tate PressIncline Prone Bicep Curl

These dumbbell exercises for chest and arms will also help you design a superset or tri-set workout routine.

Let’s see how to perform these exercises step by step.

Dumbbell Chest Exercises

1. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Chest Exercises

The dumbbell bench press is one of the most effective exercises for building solid pecs. It provides a better range of motion and allows you easily activate chest muscles. So even if you’re a beginner, you can easily do it.

How to do it:

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on a flat bench, and press the dumbbells directly over your chest until you feel a full contraction in your pecs.

2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The incline bench press develops the upper pecs and helps you build a defined chest. The suitable incline position is 30-degree, performing the press at more than 30-degree height reduces muscle activity of the chest and increases shoulder involvement.1 Effect of Five Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Activity of the Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii during the Bench Press Exercise – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Here are the simple steps to do an incline bench press:

Set a bench to a 30-degree incline, and lie on it, holding a pair of dumbbells. Press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until your upper chest is fully contracted.

3. Dumbbell Fly

arm and chest dumbbell workout

The dumbbell fly is an isolation exercise that helps you build chest muscles. It also engages the bicep to some extent.

A study suggests that the dumbbell fly might be helpful where strength and mobility in a horizontal shoulder flexion position with extended elbows are required.2 A Comparison of Muscle Activation between Barbell Bench Press and Dumbbell Flyes in Resistance-Trained Males – Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

How to do it:

Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lay down on a flat bench and keep your arms out to the sides with your elbows slightly bent. Then squeezing your pecs, bring the dumbbells close to each other until they are together over your chest.

4. Dumbbell Squeeze Press

The squeeze press highly engages the chest and helps you beef up mass. You can do it even with a single dumbbell and without a bench.

Here are the steps to do a squeeze press:

Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and lie on a flat or incline bench. Keep your arms bent beside your chest with your palms are facing each other. Squeezing your chest muscles, press the dumbbells until you feel a good contraction in your chest.

5. Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover is a multi-joint exercise that works on several muscles at once, such as the lats, core, and especially the chest.3 Effects of the pullover exercise on the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles as evaluated by EMG – Journal of Applied Biomechanics. You can do it as a finisher workout on your chest day.

Dumbbell Pullover Chest Workout For Beginners

How to do it:

Grip the one end of the dumbbell with your hands and place the upper back on the flat bench with your feet firmly on the ground; your hip is in line with your chest and arms straight behind your head. That’s the start. Pull the dumbbells all the way from your head to the chest.

Dumbbell Exercises For Arms

6. Incline Dumbbell French Press

The incline french press targets the long head muscle of the triceps increases strength and mass, and builds bigger arms.

Grab a pair of light dumbbells with a neutral grip and lie on a 30-45 degree incline bench. Keep your elbows bent and lock beside your ear so the dumbbells face backward. Now, extend your arms entirely until you feel the full contraction in your triceps muscles.

7. DB Overhead Triceps Extension

If you want to do more than one exercise to strengthen the long head of the tricep, you can perform the dumbbell overhead tricep extension. It highly activates tricep muscles and will help you develop sturdy arms over time.

arm and chest workout with dumbbells

How to do it:

Grab the top of a dumbbell firmly with your hands. Bend your elbows and lower the dumbbell behind your head. Keeping your elbows fixed, extend your arms until your triceps muscles are fully contracted.

8. Dumbbell Kickback

The dumbbell kickback is one of the most effective tricep exercises that engage both the long and short heads.4 ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises – American Council of Exercise You can do it in several ways with and without a bench, such as an incline kickback, bend-forward kickback, and kneeling kickback.

Standing dumbbell triceps exercises
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Here’s how to do a bent-forward tricep kickback:

Grab a dumbbell in your right hand with a neutral grip and stand in the hip-width stance. Slightly bend your knees and place your left hand on the knee for support. Kick your right arm behind you until your triceps are fully engaged.

9. Single-arm Overhead Tricep Extension

If you want to work on one arm at a time, you can do this single-arm overhead tricep extension.

Grab a dumbbell in either of your hand with a neutral grip. Sit on the bench or stand upright and keep your arm behind your head with your elbow bent. Extend your arms until your tris are fully engaged.

10. Dumbbell Tate Press

The Tate press is not popular in the world of bodybuilding but is well known in the powerlifting universe. It is used as one of the accessory lifts for maximizing bench press.

It works on multiple muscles simultaneously, such as the chest and triceps. So including the Tate press in your dumbbell arms and chest workout routine may produce efficient results.

How to:

Grab a pair of dumbbells, lie flat on the bench and keep your arms straight over your chest with your elbows pointing out. Lower the dumbbells inward and downward towards your chest until your elbows are bent, and then extend your arms entirely. You’ll feel the contraction in your triceps at the full extension.

11. Standard Dumbbell Curl

To build bigger arms, especially the biceps, I’ve shared five exercises in this article, such as standard dumbbell curl, concentration curl, and hammer curl. All those exercises work differently and help you develop sizable biceps.

Let’s start with the standing dumbbell curl.

Dumbbell Arm Exercises

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand upright with your arms straight at your sides. Bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders until your biceps are fully engaged.

12. Dumbbell Concentration Curl

Dumbbell Concentration Curl

Sit on the edge of a flat bench, and grab a dumbbell in your right hand with an underhand grip. Slightly bend forward and place the back of your elbows on your thigh. Curl your arm until you feel a good contraction in your biceps.

13. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Dumbbell Hammer Bicep Curl

Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and stand upright. Curl your arms until your biceps are fully engaged.

14. Incline Dumbbell Curl

Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lie on a 45-60 degree incline bench. Keep your arms at your sides with your elbows slightly bent. Curl your arms until your biceps are fully contracted.

15. Prone Incline Curl

Set a bench to a 45-degree incline, and grab a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip. Lie on the bench on your stomach with your chest at its edge. Curl your straight arms until you feel the full contraction in your bi’s.

Arm and Chest Dumbbell Workout Routine

Dumbbell Arms and Chest Workout (Superset)

Summary:

  • Number of sets: 3
  • Reps range: 8-12
  • Rest between exercises: up to 30 seconds
  • Rest between sets: 1-2 min
  • Duration of a session: 45-60 minutes

Set 1

  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Standard Biceps Curl
  • Incline Dumbbell French Press

Set 2

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Concentration Curl
  • DB Overhead Triceps Extension

Set 3

  • Dumbbell Fly
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl
  • Dumbbell Kickback

Dumbbell Chest and Arms Workout Plan (Standard)

ExerciseMuscle WorkedReps
Flat Dumbbell Bench PressChest12 x 3
Incline Dumbbell FlyChest10 x 3
Dumbbell PulloverChest10 x 2
Incline Dumbbell French PressTriceps10 x 3
Dumbbell KickbackTriceps10 x 3
Incline Dumbbell CurlBiceps10 x 3
Concentration CurlBiceps10 x 3
Hammer CurlBiceps10 x 3

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you train arms and chest together?

Yes, you can train your arms and chest together.
It is recommended that one should train one large and one small muscle together, such as the chest and triceps & biceps. The chest and triceps work when you push or extend your arms, while the biceps engage during the pull exercises. So, you can train the muscles in the following way: Chest, biceps, and triceps superset, or chest, triceps, and biceps individually, one after another.

Should you work out your arms or chest first?

Training the large muscles first or doing multi-joint exercises always produces better results, as suggested by several professionals, trainers, and fitness websites. So, it would be great to start your training session with chest exercises, such as dumbbell bench press, fly, and pullover, followed by single-joint exercises, such as tricep kickback and dumbbell curl.5 Large and Small Muscles in Resistance Training: Is It Time for a Better Definition? – Strength and Conditioning Journal

How often should you work out your arms and chest?

To build mass and strength, you should perform dumbbell arms and chest workouts two times a week. However, once is also fine if you only train two to three days a week.

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References