The arms are one of the favored muscle groups amongst many lifters. It’s visible, even when wearing a t-shirt and the exercises are often easy to do without the need for a lot of equipment. Dumbbells are one of the preferred pieces of equipment when it comes to working on the arms, and not without reason. Creating a dumbbells workout for arms is easy, every gym has dumbbells and it’s easy to change the weight.
Let’s have a look at how to build those arms using dumbbells.
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The biceps or biceps brachii is a major muscle lying between the shoulder and elbow on the front of the arm. Its function is to flex and supinate the forearm and is important during pull exercises.
The biceps consists of two heads, the short head, which makes up for the width and thickness of the biceps.
The long head, also called the peak as it’s responsible for creating the peak and a more balanced look. Not only is the long head important for looks but also shoulder stability.
It’s important to train both the short and long head to build big biceps with the characteristic peak.
Different grips and angels are key to hitting both heads and creating complete-looking biceps.
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The triceps or triceps brachii is the other major muscle lying between the shoulder and elbow on the backside of the arm. Its function is to extend or straighten the arm and is important during push exercises.
The triceps should be bigger than the biceps and makes up for most of the size of your arm.
It consists of three heads. The long head is what makes up for most of the size. It’s placed on the back of the arm making it less visible from the side.
The lateral head is smaller than the long head but is the head most visible from the side.
The lateral head is the smallest and least visible of the three heads but this doesn’t mean that you should skip it. It still plays an important part in the overall definition of the triceps as well as providing stability and strength to the muscle.
If all three heads are well developed, we’ll see the “horseshoe” which is a sign of well-developed triceps. To achieve this you’ll have to work the triceps with different grips and angels.
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Triceps exercises with dumbbells
Exercise 1. Dumbbell skull crushers
The dumbbell skull crushers are an excellent exercise not only for hypertrophy but also for strength. It targets all three heads making it a great exercise to build your triceps.
How to perform dumbbell skull crushers?
- Lie flat on a bench with both feet planted on the floor.
- With a dumbbell in both hands, extend your arms in a straight line from your shoulders towards the ceiling.
- Lower the dumbbells towards your ear by only bending the elbows.
- Once the dumbbells reach your ears, push them back up until your arms are fully extended
Make sure that there’s no movement in the shoulder joint and the elbows are tucked in during the whole exercise.
Exercise 2. Seated dumbbell tricep extensions
The seated dumbbell tricep extensions are another great for working all three heads on the triceps. It can be done standing but the seated variation allows you to lift heavier and requires less from your core.
How to performseated dumbbell tricep extensions?
- Sit on a bench with a straight back.
- Have a dumbbell between your arms, hold it with both hands, and lift it over your head.
- By bending your elbows slowly, lower the dumbbell behind your head to at least a 90-degree angle.
- Hold for a moment before going back to the starting position.
Keep the elbows tucked in during the whole exercise and hold the dumbbell with the palm of your hands at the top to load the tricep as effectively as possible.
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Exercise 3. One arm overhead tricep extensions
The one-arm overhead tricep extensions are another great exercise that works the whole triceps. It’s unilateral which makes it a great exercise to make up for strength and size differences. However, it does require a lot of stability from the whole body and especially in the shoulder and you should be careful not to go too heavy.
How to perform one arm overhead tricep extensions?
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with a dumbbell in one hand in a pronated grip.
- Lift your arm over your head.
- Slowly bend your elbow until the dumbbell is behind your head.
- Push the dumbbell back up again, until your arm is extended over your head again.
Your triceps shouldn’t be pointing straight to the side but slightly towards the front. Make sure to keep a tight core, without leaning back during the exercise.
Biceps exercises with dumbbells
Exercise 1. Dumbbell preacher curls
The dumbbell preacher curl is a great exercise for the whole biceps with an emphasis on the short head. While the standing variation provides the most activation at the final third, the preacher curl activates the biceps the most at the first third of the ROM.
It’s a unilateral exercise making it a great exercise to make up for strength and size differences.
How to perform dumbbell preacher curls?
- Sit down on a preacher bench (or with your arm on an inclined bench), with a dumbbell in your hand.
- Rotate your body slightly away from the arm with the dumbbell.
- Lower the dumbbell slowly until your arm is straight.
- Return to the starting position and squeeze your biceps.
You can change the focus to the long head by twisting your arm until the pinky is turned slightly upwards.
Exercise 2. Incline dumbbell curls
The incline dumbbell curl is the biceps exercise that activates the muscles in your biceps the most. It allows the long head to be pre-stretched before contracting the muscle, making it a great exercise to build that bicep peak.
How to perform the incline dumbbell curl?
- Sit down on a bench at a 45-60 degree angle, keep your back straight and tight.
- Have a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward.
- Lift the dumbbell/dumbbells slowly towards your shoulders by contracting your biceps.
- Once you’ve reached the top, squeeze for 1 second, before slowly lowering the weights back down.
Do each rep slowly and controlled. Losing control on the way down can result in straining your biceps.
Exercise 3. Dumbbell hammer curls
The dumbbell hammer curl primarily works the long head of the biceps as well as the brachialis (the forearm), making it a great all-around exercise to finish our workout.
How to perform the dumbbell hammer curl?
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body.
- Have a tight grip towards the bottom of the dumbbell to increase the tension on the brachialis.
- Slowly lift the dumbbell towards your shoulder until fully flexed.
- Squeeze for 1 second.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
start with your weaker arm to avoid having a higher workload on your stronger side.
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Triceps Dumbbells workout
The triceps dumbbells workout can either be done by itself, or as a part of f.x your push day.
Biceps dumbbells workout
The biceps dumbbells workout can either be done by itself, or as a part of f.x your pull day.
Dumbbells workout for bigger arms
The dumbbells bi and tri workout can either be done as a workout itself or as a part of f.x upper body day.
As with every other program, the diet is important for optimal results. Eating a proper amount of protein might be difficult but is key for muscle growth and preservation.
Despite popular belief, the timing of your proteins isn’t as important as the overall total consumed.
The biceps and the triceps are two major muscles, placed on our upper arm.
The triceps is placed on the backside of our arm, consisting of three heads. Its main function is to extend the arm, making it important during exercises such as bench press.
The biceps is placed on the front of the arm, consisting of only two heads. Its main function is to flex the arm and is important during pull exercises, such as rows.
It’s easy to create a dumbbells workout for arms as they offer many opportunities for different, efficient exercises, targeting all the different heads and muscles.