Best dumbbell exercises for arms (Image via Unsplash/Marius Muresan)

6 Dumbbell Exercises to Get Big Arms That Pop

If you want bigger arms, the best exercise to get them is by lifting weights. However, a lot of people don't have access to equipment, or they don't want to pay for a gym membership.

That doesn't mean you can't build your biceps and triceps to be massive. All it takes is some dumbbells, good form, and the following exercises can help you achieve arms that pop.


Best Dumbbell Exercises for Massive Arms

Here's a look at six such exercises:


#1 Bicep curl

Bicep curls are one of the most common arm exercises. You can do curls to build a substantial amount of muscle. Use a dumbbell, and hold it at your side with your palm facing inward. From this position, raise the weight upwards till your arm is fully extended.


The exercise works by isolating and strengthening the muscles in the biceps so that they can contract more effectively during routine tasks throughout the day (like lifting groceries or opening jars).

The goal is to work yourself up to doing 12 repetitions with each arm before increasing weight.


#2 Overhead tricep extension

Dumbbell tricep extensions are a great way to work the muscles in the triceps, which so many people tend to avoid when training their arms.

Training the triceps makes your arms look huge, so make sure to include tricep exercises in your workouts.

The overhead tricep extension is done as follows:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand above your head, with your palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your shoulders back and chest up; lower the weights till they're behind your ears. Raise them again to the starting position above your head as you exhale through pursed lips (that helps engage the triceps).
  • Repeat 8-12 times for two sets or three times for one set if you're incorporating it into an arm routine that includes other exercises.
  • Switch your grip so that one hand holds an overhand grip on each weight. and repeat on that side too before switching back to start from the bottom again.

#3 Hammer curl

Hammer curls are great for working out the biceps and improving grip strength. They also help strengthen the core muscles because when you're lowering the weights down during each rep, there's a natural lumbar curve created.

That helps stabilize you from falling backward because of balance issues (which could happen if you don't have strong core muscles).

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Using a neutral grip, grab a dumbbell with each arm, and hold them by your sides.
  • Hold still and flex your torso; slowly raise the dumbbells toward your shoulders.
  • Pause for a second before slowly lowering them again to complete one rep.

Some people may find hammer curls more difficult than other bicep exercises, as they require better wrist stability while lifting heavier weights.

So if you haven't been doing much weight training before or are just starting out, start off by holding lighter weights first till you feel comfortable enough before going up in poundage amount.


#4 Single arm row

Single-arm rows are a great, unilateral exercise for the back and arms. They can even out any muscular imbalance by training each half individually and work the arms by using them as hooks.

A single arm row is done as follows:

  • Grabbing one dumbbell, enter a staggered stance, and stand on your left leg with your right leg in front of the left.
  • Hold the dumbbells so that they're at shoulder height and vertically aligned with each other.
  • Pull the weights up to your chest by bending at the elbow till they reach either side of your torso.
  • Lower them back down under control without letting them touch or rest on anything.

#5 Preacher curl

This exercise is great for targeting any weakness in the bicep area. It’s also easy on the joints and won’t cause any pain or injury if done correctly. The only major downside to this exercise is that you need a special machine for it, but as you can do it just as efficiently, this isn’t really anything significant.


Here's how to do a preacher curl:

  • Stand in front of a preacher curl bench, with your feet planted firmly on the floor.
  • Place both hands on the resting pad so that the palms face up, and allow them to rest while locking your elbows.
  • Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest by bending at the elbow.
  • Perform a few reps.
Are bicep curls better than preacher curls?

Regular biceps curls generate a stronger muscle contraction, whereas preacher curls provide a better stretch.

#6 Cross-body curl

This workout focuses on building the biceps. They bring a unique range of motion to the table and can be great at hitting the brachialis, the shirt head of the bicep, which gives the arms their renowned peak.

Follow these steps to do a solid preacher curl:

  • To do the exercise, you will need two dumbbells.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold one in each hand at arm's length in front of your hips.
  • Keep your back straight as you lift the weight up to shoulder level, bringing your left arm to the right shoulder and vice versa, and lower it back down.
  • Try to maintain an upright position throughout the movement so that you don't lean forward or backward too much as you lift and lower the weight.
  • Perform 8-12 repetitions for each arm before switching sides and repeating for three sets total per side.
I like to prioritize neutral grip bicep exercises (such as hammer curls or cross body curls as displayed in the video) over supinated grip. Why?

Neutral grip gives a bit more love to the elbow flexor muscle. Training this will help your biceps appear wider and fuller


It's important to remember that when you're doing arm workouts, you need to keep your shoulders back, and pull in your core. That will help prevent injury and also allow for a better workout.

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