Forget push-ups – Build muscle in your arms with this quick standing dumbbell workout instead

12 minutes and two medium dumbbells are all you need to build bigger arms

Torso of a fit woman hodling dumbbells in each hand
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you find push-ups too hard? You're not alone. As excellent as they are, push-ups are notoriously hard to do and require not only strong arms but also a bulletproof core and hard-as-a-rock pecs. Instead, why not try this joint-friendly 12-minute standing arm workout that uses only two dumbbells and targets the biceps, triceps and shoulders?

Being a standing workout, this arm session also uses the core for stabilisation. Your core consists of several muscle groups surrounding your torse, including your abs, obliques, lower back and many more. A strong core can help improve balance and even alleviate back pain. During the workout, engage your core to prevent your body from swaying.

This straightforward arm workout consists of 12 moves performed for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest. One round only, although if you're up for it, feel free to do as many sets as you can (within reason). Concentrate on the muscles you're trying to activate – slow, controlled movements are crucial to building muscle and avoiding injuries. The exercises featured in this workout are as follows:

  • Wide biceps curl 
  • 2 x hammer curls going into 2x push backs
  • Alternating press with triceps extension
  • Upright row going into diagonal forward raise
  • Cross-body biceps curls going into raises (left)
  • Cross-body biceps curls going into raises (right)
  • Dumbbell forward press going to overhead press
  • Single arm row going into 2x triceps kickbacks (left)
  • Single arm row going into 2x triceps kickbacks (right)
  • Alternating biceps curls
  • Biceps curls going into Arnold press
  • 2x lateral raises going into 2x rear delt flyes

Although this is a dumbbell workout, you can also use resistance bands as an alternative. We have three guides for you to check out: best dumbbells, best adjustable dumbbells and best resistance bands. And while you can perform the workout without wearing any shoes, a decent pair of workout shoes could come in handy. If you need trainers, have a look at T3's best workout shoe guide.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.