How to Build Strong Arms With Dumbbells

How to Build Strong Arms With Dumbbells

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Dumbbells enable you to work each arm separately.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Barbells and machines aren't the only tools for building serious arm strength. Heavy dumbbells can provide the resistance needed to build strength, provided you use enough weight and a specific plan. To build strong arms, you'll need to focus on exercises that work your biceps, at the front of your arms; your triceps, at the back of your arms; your brachialis, which connects your biceps to your forearms; your pronator teres, of your forearms, which rotates your palms downward; and your brachioradialis, also of your forearms.


Plan to do an arm-specific, strength-training routine three times per week. Leave 48 hours between these workouts so the muscles can recover and repair. Rest time is when the muscles actually grow stronger.


At each workout, do three to six sets of five to six repetitions of each exercise. Rest between three and five minutes between each set.


Use dumbbells equal to 80 to 88 percent of your one-repetition maximum. Your one-repetition maximum is the most weight you can lift one time only.


Do multiple exercises for each of the muscle groups. Choose from triceps overhead extensions, skull crushers, kickbacks and narrow chest presses for the triceps; underhand-grip biceps curls, overhand-grip biceps curls, hammer curls, preacher curls, concentration curls and incline curls for the biceps and brachialis; and hammer curls and wrist curls for the forearms.


Vary your workout approximately every 30 days so you continue to build strength. Increase your resistance or change up the number of sets. For example, instead of just three sets of six repetitions with three minutes of rest to build strength, go for four sets of five repetitions with heavier weight and four minutes of rest.


Support your muscle-building efforts with a post-workout snack that includes whey protein, which the International Society of Sports Nutrition affirms helps you build strength when combined with regular strength-training efforts.


  • Enlist a spotter when you are lifting extremely heavy dumbbells, especially overhead or over your chest.