The Perfect 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout to Sculpt Stronger Arms

This 20-minute arm-sculpting routine is packed with dumbbell exercises for your biceps and triceps, like the concentration curl.
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi/LIVESTRONG.com

If you are looking to shape and tone your arms, it's crucial to add resistance training to your workout routine. Dumbbells are a low-cost option to up the ante, and they're super convenient, as they can be used anywhere — at home, at the gym or even outdoors.

Training your arms regularly with dumbbells will also help you navigate everyday tasks, like carrying your groceries or lifting a heavy suitcase. Plus, as you work toward your goal of sculpted arms, you just might find your confidence improves, too.

Do 2 sets of 12 reps of each exercise below for a 20-minute routine that focuses on those confidence-boosting muscles: the biceps and triceps.

Move 1: Standing Dumbbell Curl

Move 1: Standing Dumbbell Curl
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells by your sides, palms facing inward.
  2. Slowly curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows firmly tucked into your sides throughout the movement.
  3. Finish at the top of the movement with your palms facing you.
  4. Hold for a count of one before slowly lowering the dumbbells back down to the start position.

Move 2: Standing Hammer Curl

Move 2: Standing Hammer Curl
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells by your sides, palms facing inward.
  2. Slowly raise the dumbbells toward your shoulders, keeping your palms facing inward and your elbows firmly tucked into your sides throughout the movement.
  3. Finish at the top of the movement with the dumbbells as close as you can bring them to your shoulders.
  4. Hold for a count of one before slowly lowering the dumbbells back down to the start position.

Tip

If you prefer, you can perform both of the biceps dumbbell exercises above seated in a chair.

Move 3: Seated Dumbbell Concentration Curl

Move 3: Seated Dumbbell Concentration Curl
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Sit at the edge of a sturdy chair with your legs wide and your feet turned slightly outward.
  2. Rest your elbow on the inside of your thigh while holding a dumbbell close to your chin.
  3. While keeping your upper arm firmly against your thigh, slowly extend your arm with the dumbbell toward the ground. Keep the elbow slightly bent.
  4. Hold for a count of one before lifting the dumbbell back to starting position. Keep your upper body and shoulder still throughout the movement.
  5. Complete 12 repetitions on one arm, then repeat with the other arm.

Move 4: Seated Two-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extension

Move 4: Seated Two-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extension
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor in front of you hip-width apart.
  2. Hold one dumbbell above your head with both hands clasped together at one end.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head until your forearms reach parallel to the ground or just below.
  4. Hold for a count of one before extending your arms back overhead.

Move 5: Seated One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extension

Move 5: Seated One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extension
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor in front of you hip-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell with one hand, with your arm extended above your head, palm facing forward.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbell as far as you can behind your head.
  4. Hold for a count of one before raising the dumbbell back overhead.
  5. Complete 12 repetitions on one arm, then repeat with the other arm.

Tip

Look straight ahead throughout the entire movement. Do not tilt your head forward.

Move 6: Chair Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Move 6: Chair Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
Image Credit: Amazin LeThi
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Bend your left knee and rest it on a chair, then place your left hand on the chair for balance. Make sure your back and head are parallel to the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Your upper arm should be pressed firmly to your side and bent, with the dumbbell as close as you can bring it toward your shoulder.
  3. Slowly extend your arm back to your hip until your arm is parallel to the ground.
  4. Hold for a count of one before bringing the dumbbell back to starting position.
  5. Complete 12 repetitions on one arm, then repeat with the other arm.

Tip

Do not round or arch your back or flare your elbow away from your body while performing this exercise.

If nailing good form feels challenging, try performing it in front of a mirror without any weight before trying it again with a dumbbell.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.