You only need this 10-minute workout to build muscle in your arms and shoulders

Try this wrist-friendly standing workout and grow big arms fast (or use lighter weights for toning)

Fit young woman lifting two dumbbells up to shoulder height in a gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Power through the mid-January slump with this low-intensity yet surprisingly effective arm workout that uses only two dumbbells. It's up to you how heavy these dumbbells are; for a toning exercise session, use lighter dumbbells, and for muscle-building, heavier ones. Either way, focus on the muscles worked for maximum results.

This is a standing dumbbell workout, which means A) you won't need any gear apart from the dumbbells and maybe a pair of stable workout shoes, and B) you'll also work your core muscles to prevent you from swinging your body. Two birds with one stone! Haven't got dumbbells? No problem; have a look at T3's best dumbbells and best adjustable dumbbell guides to find out which is best for your workout needs. Alternatively, you can use resistance bands instead – that's cheaper and equally as effective.

You'll be doing each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest. There are nine exercises in total, and since it's an all-standing routine, you won't be required to move anywhere. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, engage your core, and try completing the movement in a slow, controlled fashion. The exercises in this workout are:

  • Bicep curls: This exercise needs no introduction. Focus on both the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) phases of the movement.
  • Alternating tricep extensions: Sometimes called the tricep kickback, it's important to keep the upper arm stationary and focus on moving the lower arm only.
  • Hammer curls going into punch: This variation works the biceps and the front of the shoulders.
  • Overhead press: One of the best delt exercises, with a twist (well, rotation)
  • Single-arm reverse fly: An amazing move to work the back of the shoulders and the upper back.
  • Overhead tricep extension: Same as above; focus on the lower arm moving, and keep yourself from swaying by bracing your core.
  • Bicep curl: Same as above
  • Narrow overhead press punch the sky: This exercise combines isometric and eccentric moves. While one arm holds the position, the other moves.
  • 45-degree lateral raises: A variation on the lateral raise; works both the side and front of the shoulders.

That's it, and well done for completing this exercise routine! If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, give this 10-minute push-up workout a try. Check out this 20-minute dumbbell arm and core workout for more standing dumbbell workout action. If you want to focus on your triceps, this tricep superset workout is a must. Finally, for the hardcore exercisers out there, we have a 5-minute pull-up bar workout for guaranteed back and biceps gains.

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.