This 10-Minute Dumbbell Workout Works Your Abs Just as Much as Your Arms

Stay active and accountable during one of the busiest times of the year with a fun, quick video workout to do every day this month. Get all the details on the challenge here.

After doing dozens of biceps curls, triceps extensions and shoulder presses, you know you'll feel at least a little burn in your arms. But a fire in your core? That's unexpected.

And yet, in any upper-body workout, your abs should play (almost) as big of a role as your arms. Engaging your core keeps your upper body stable, which helps you control your weights and get the most out of every exercise.



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That's the goal of this 10-minute arm workout: You'll sculpt not only your biceps, triceps and shoulders, but also your core as you move from one dumbbell exercise to the next. "You always want to engage your core," says Ingrid Clay, certified personal trainer and founder of ISC Wellness. "Think: Bellybutton to spine."

Clay recommends using 8- to 20-pound dumbbells, but you can opt for a lighter or heavier pair. Your weights should feel heavy enough to challenge you, but you should still be able to complete each exercise with good form. If you don't have dumbbells available, try a creative at-home alternative, like water bottles or soup cans.

Grab your weights and a mat and get ready for this two-in-one workout.


Run through a few upper-body warm-up exercises first to prep your arms and abs for the work to come.

The Workout

Clay will take you through 10 different arm exercises for 30 to 60 seconds each. Although she transitions from move to move with no breaks, feel free to pause as needed.


  1. Biceps Curl to Reverse Shoulder Press: This exercise will warm up your biceps, triceps and the fronts of your shoulders.
  2. Hammer Curl to Shoulder Press: Keep your elbows against your sides to curl the weights with control.
  3. Overhead Triceps Extension to Military Press: "Try to avoid resting the chin on your chest," Clay says. "You want to keep that chin up. And don't forget to breathe."
  4. Triceps Kickback and Twist: Switch to a lighter pair of weights or alternate arms to maintain proper form, she says.
  5. Dumbbell Ski: Keep your back flat and avoid swinging your weights as you lift your arms behind you.
  6. Wide Curl: Mix things up after the first 30 seconds by only lifting the weight halfway up.
  7. Cross-Body Curl: "No need to rush here — take your time," Clay says. "Quality over quantity."
  8. Lateral Raise: Keep a slight bend in your elbows and pause for two seconds when your dumbbells reach shoulder height.
  9. Extended Forearm Push-Up: If this is a little too challenging, lift your elbows off the ground one at a time, Clay says.
  10. Triceps Push-Up: "You're at the end, this is where you're tired," Clay says. "Push through here."


If you have 10 more minutes to spare, Clay suggests pairing this arm session with a lower-body routine for a full-body workout. Then, run through a few quick cool-down moves to loosen up your muscles and stay injury-free.

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