Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises

Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises

These are the Top 10 dumbbell exercises to work all major muscle groups, build muscle, and get fit. All with dumbbells! 

And there are plenty of great dumbbell exercises out there. The problem is, having too many options can often lead to confusion and frustration.

To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 dumbbell exercises. In no particular order, here they are:

  1. Dumbbell Bench Press
  2. Dumbbell Flyes
  3. One-Arm Rows
  4. Bent Over Side Raises (Reverse Flyes)
  5. Shoulder Press
  6. Shoulder Side Raises
  7. Dumbbell Alternating Curls
  8. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
  9. Triceps Kickback
  10. Bodyweight Squats

Let’s take a deeper look at each:

The Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises

1. Dumbbell Bench Press

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, sit on a bench, and rest them on your thighs. 

2. Carefully lie back, bring both dumbbells to your sides, and dig your shoulders into the bench.

3. Take a breath and press both dumbbells up and in until they tap slightly and your elbows straighten.

4. Slowly lower both dumbbells to your sides as you exhale. Avoid flaring your shoulders too much.

Dumbbell Chest Workout Without Bench

2. Dumbbell Flyes

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, sit on a bench, and rest them on your thighs. 

2. Lie back, bring both dumbbells up, and maintain a slight bend in your elbows.

3. Bring your shoulders back, take a breath, and slowly release both dumbbells down and to your sides.

4. Go down until you feel a stretch in your chest, hold for a moment, and bring them back to the starting position.

Dumbbell Chest Flyes on Floor
Proper Form for Dumbbell Flyes From a Step

3. One Arm Row

1. Grab a dumbbell, bend forward until your torso is parallel with the floor, and place your free hand on something for balance.

2. With the dumbbell hanging beneath your shoulder, bring your chest out, make sure your back is straight, and take a breath.

3. Row the dumbbell toward your torso, hold the top position, and release, exhaling on the way down.

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows

4. Bent Over Side Raises (Reverse Flyes)

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and bend forward, making sure your back is straight.

2. With the dumbbells hanging down, bring your shoulders back, and take a breath.

3. Raise both dumbbells to the side and back, making sure to engage your rear deltoids as best possible.

4. Lower the dumbbells as you exhale.

Bent-over Dumbbell Side Raises

5. Shoulder Press

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, raise them to your sides, engage your abs, and squeeze your glutes.

2. Bring your chest out, direct your gaze forward, and take a breath.

3. Press both dumbbells up and in until they tap lightly and your elbows extend.

4. Lower them slowly until your elbows are slightly lower than your shoulders. Exhale near the bottom.

Seated Dumbbell Press Form

6. Shoulder Side Raises

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and place them to your sides with your arms straight and palms facing in.

2. Bring your chest out, engage your abs, and take a breath.

3. Simultaneously raise both dumbbells to your sides and up until your elbows are at shoulder level.

4. Slowly lower both dumbbells to the starting position, exhaling on your way down.

Iron Cross Shoulder Workout

7. Dumbbell Alternating Curls

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, stand tall, and have your palms face your thighs.

2. Curl the right dumbbell as you twist your wrist forward. Hold the top position and slowly release the dumbbell.

3. Take a breath and curl the left dumbbell in the same way.

4. Keep alternating between curling the left and right dumbbell.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

8. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, stand tall, and have your palms face your thighs.

2. Bring your shoulders back, take a breath, and curl both dumbbells as you keep your palms facing one another.

3. Go up until your wrists are slightly higher than your elbows, hold for a second, and release, exhaling on the way down.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

9. Triceps Kickback

1. Grab a dumbbell with your right hand, head over to a gym bench, and place your left knee and palm on it for balance.

2. Bring your elbow to torso level, get your shoulders back, and take a breath.

3. Extend your elbow as you keep your arm in a stationary position.

4. Once your elbow is straight, hold for a moment, and release the dumbbell, exhaling on the way down.

5. Once finished, switch the position and do the exercise with your left arm.

Two Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks

10. Bodyweight Squats

1. Have your feet slightly wider than your hips and point your toes slightly out.

2. Bring your chest out, engage your abs, raise your arms forward for balance, and take a breath.

3. Squat as low as you can, maintaining firm contact with your heels.

4. Push through your heels to get back to the top, exhaling near the end.

What Dumbbells You Will Need For These Exercises

For your dumbbell training to be safe and effective, it’s good to have a few options for the weight. Specifically, you should have two lighter dumbbell sets for smaller muscle groups like your biceps, triceps, and shoulders. You should also have two heavier sets for the larger muscles like your back, chest, quadriceps, and hamstrings. (1)

That way, you won’t need a room full of dumbbells to train your entire body effectively. Instead, you can use the lighter dumbbells for assistance and isolation movements like hammer curls and the heavier dumbbells for compound lifts like squats and presses.

Best Dumbbells for Home Workouts

Dumbbell Training Safety: What You Should Know

There are many things to keep in mind for your safety. Most of them are common sense, but here are three things to remember at all times:

First off, always make sure to warm-up well before your workouts. Some light cardio and dynamic stretching will prime your body for the workout, allow you to perform at your best, and keep you safe from injuries. (2)

Second, use dumbbells that are heavy enough to challenge you, but not too much where you can’t control them completely. Working out is about stimulating your muscles correctly, not moving as much weight as possible between two points. So start with light dumbbells (lighter than you think), and progress to heavier dumbbells as you gain experience and comfort level

And third – and this might upset some folks – don’t drop your dumbbells on the floor. Aside from damaging the floor and leading to cracks and dents, this puts you at a high risk of injury. What if you drop that heavy dumbbell on one of your feet? Or someone else’s? Instead, put it on the floor calmly and with reasonable control.

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Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of ThinkingLifter.com. He has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

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References

  1. Dumbbell exercise. Physiopedia. (n.d.).
    https://www.physio-pedia.com/Dumbbell_Exercise
  2. NHS. (n.d.). NHS choices.
    https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/running-and-aerobic-exercises/how-to-warm-up-before-exercising/#:~:text=Warm%20up%20properly%20before%20exercising,if%20you%20feel%20the%20need.

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