Home Exercises Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises to Build Muscle

Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises to Build Muscle

To obtain your ideal physique one must implement the best dumbbell exercises into one’s wortout routine.

Dumbbells Exercises

Dumbbell exercises reap incredible muscle building benefits. Exercises that use free weight place higher demands on your muscles than resistance machines and levers.

Free weight exercises that use dumbbells train your body’s natural stabilisers even better than using the barbell for instance. Muscle stabilisers are muscles that contract during an exercise with no significant movement to maintain a posture or fixate a joint.
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Dumbbell vs Barbell

Dumbbell exercises give you more range of motion in your exercise than any other fitness equipment.
For example if you compare the barbell bench press and the dumbbell bench press you will find that the dumbbell bench press is actually a more difficult pressing movement. This is because you are using more muscle stabilisers, like your abs and shoulder to perform the exercise.
The amount muscle that contracting as you hold the dumbbells in place. Your triceps, abs, core muscles, deltoids and forearms are called into play during the dumbbell bench press.
Also you’ll find when you lower the dumbbell during the negative part of the exercise you can go down further than a barbell. This is due to natural feel that you find when using dumbbells and that there isn’t a bar in the way.

Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises

These are the best dumbbell exercises that should be in everyone’s workout routine regardless of experience level.
NOTE: The dumbbell exercise below are not placed in any particular order of importance.

1. Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press is almost exactly the same as the notorious Barbell Bench Press. The Dumbbells offer more range of motion and allows for that additional chest contraction at the top of the movement.

Target Muscle Worked: Pectoral (Chest)

Other Muscles: Triceps & Anterior Delts

Exercise Type: Compound

Before you learn how to perform the exercise we recommend learning how to retract your scapula for any horizontal pressing exercise. This keeps your shoulders safe during the movement and allows you to focus on the target muscles better.

Click here and learn How to Get a Bigger Chest which includes how to retract your scapula. 

Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Bench Press

Starting Position

Grab a set of dumbbells and sit on the end of bench with legs touching the ground. Hold dumbbells in a neutral grip and place each on both of your thighs, relatively close to your body.

Lift dumbbells with your legs and with one movement lie down on the bench controlling the dumbbells while your back lowers and touches the bench. While your back lowers pronate (palms facing) your grip from neutral.

Hold each dumbbell with a pronated grip on either side of your chest. You should be lying on the bench with dumbbells on each side of chest and elbows fully bent. Dumbbells should in line or just above your nipples. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Push the dumbbells upwards with power till your elbows are almost straight. Hold for 1 second and then lower the dumbbells back to starting position with control. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The Dumbbell Shoulder Press is a powerful movement that trains both deltoid heads. This exercise packs on size to those shoulders.

You can do this exercise standing up or siting down. Sitting down allows you to go heavy and target the shoulders more. Standing and performing this exercise also targets your core muscles. This exercise description will be on the sitting variation of the Dumbbell Shoulder Press.

Target Muscle Worked: Anterior Delts (Front Shoulders)

Other Muscles: Lateral Delts & Triceps

Exercise Type: Compound

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Starting Position

First adjust the bench so you are sitting up straight and you are leaning your back on the bench. And angel of 70º-90º is optimal for shoulder development.

Similar to the Dumbbell Bench Press, place both dumbbells with a neutral grip on both thighs.

Lift one dumbbell at a time with your legs until the both dumbbells are at shoulder height shoulder. Twist your wirst so your grip is pronated grip. Do not flare your elbows keep them close to your body. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Push the dumbbells vertically upwards with power till your elbows are almost straight. Hold for 1 second and then lower the dumbbells back to starting position with control. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

3. One Arm Dumbbell Row

The One Arm Dumbbell Row is a famous exercise for building thickness on your lats. It is an exercise that looks easy but is hard to grasp for many.

Target Muscle Worked: Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)

Other Muscles: Rear Delts, Areas of the Mid Back & Biceps

Exercise Type: Compound

One Arm Dumbbell Row
One Arm Dumbbell Row

Starting Position

Grap a dumbbell with your right hand and go to a flat bench. Place dumbbell on the floor to the right side of the bench.

Place your left knee on the end of the bench and lean your torso till it is parallel to ground or just above. Place your left hand on the bench to provide support.

Grap the dumbbell and then straighten your back till it is parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Pull the dumbbell up in line with your waist. Focus on pulling with your back. Imagine your arm as a hook and the elbow is leading the movement. At the top of the movement squeeze your back and shoulder blades. Hold for 1 second.

Lower the weight with control to your arm is completely straight and your back should now be relaxed. This is 1 rep.

Then switch to the other arm and repeat.

4. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

This exercise works to build width on your frame which targets the lateral head of your deltoids. When the exercise is done correctly the trap muscles are not engaged.

Target Muscle Worked: Lateral Delts (Side Shoulder)

Other Muscles: Anterior Delts & Trapezius

Exercise Type: Isolation

Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Starting Position

Stand and hold dumbbells in front of thighs. Have your elbows slightly bent. Bend over forward  keeping knees and torso slightly bent. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Raise dumbbells to your side to shoulder height. Elbows should be slightly bent in a fixed position maintaining elbow height position above wrist. Hold for 1 second at the top of the movement.

Lower dumbbells with control back down to your thighs. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

5. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

This exercise isolates the posterior delts. The exercise is similar to the One Arm Dumbbell Row.

Target Muscle Worked: Rear Delts (Back of the Shoulder)

Other Muscles: Areas of the Mid Back

Exercise Type: Isolation

Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

Starting Position

Hold dumbbells with palms facing forward. Bent over with knees slightly bent and torso is parallel or above to the floor. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Lift dumbbells up keeping them in line with your shoulders. Lead with your elbows during the lift. Contract your rear delts and hold for 1 second.

Lower dumbbell slowly back into starting position.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

6.  Dumbbell V-ups

This exercise work wonders towards developing your abdominal muscles.

Target Muscle Worked: Abdominals

Other Muscles: N/A

Exercise Type: Isolation

Starting Position

Lay flat on your back with 1 dumbbell over your head on the ground. Hold with both hands on side of dumbbells. Your arms should be straight above your head holding firmly onto the dumbbell. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Keeping your core tight, lift both legs and arms of the floor and try touching dumbbell to feet. Keep arms and legs straing throught the movement. When you up your body creates a V shape.

Slowly lower arms and legs at the same time down. Your legs must never touch the floor. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range, Keeping legs off the floor until the very end.

7. Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extensions

(Dumbbell Skullcrusher)

This is an extraordinary exercise for your triceps. It builds mass and helps improve your Dumbbell Bench Press.

Target Muscle Worked: Triceps

Other Muscles: N/A

Exercise Type: Isolation

Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extensions
Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extensions

Starting Position

Lay flat on your back on a bench. Hold your arms straight up perpendicular to your body, grasping onto dumbbells. Hold the dumbbells with neutral grip and shoulder width apart. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Without moving your upper arms bend your elbows till the dumbbell reaches near your ears. Hold for 1 second and with control push the dumbbells straight to starting position.

Through out the movement keep elbows tight and close to your body. Do not let them flare out. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

8. Alternated Dumbbell Bicep Curl

This exercise is a classic bicep exercises. The Alternated Dumbbell Bicep curl is a basic movement but is very effective for building big biceps. You can do this exercise standing or sitting.

Target Muscle Worked: Biceps

Other Muscles: Forearms

Exercise Type: Isolation

Alternated Dumbbell Bicep Curl
Alternated Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Starting Position

Grasp dumbbells in each hand with a neutral grip. Legs shoulder width and have knees slightly bent. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

With minimal movement of your upper arms bend your elbows and curl the dumbbell as high as possible. When you curl the dumbbell twist your wrist from neutral to a supinated position (palms facing you). Also squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.

Lower the dumbbell with control to the starting position. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

9. Dumbbell Walking Lunges

The Dumbbell Walking lunges are great for overall leg development and fantastic for working your glutes.

Target Muscle Worked: Quadriceps

Other Muscles: Glutes & Hamstrings

Exercise Type: Compound

Dumbbell Walking Lunges
Dumbbell Walking Lunges

Starting Position

Grasp dumbbells with a neutral grip by your side. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Keep torso upright and activate your core muscles. Step forward with your right foot 2 feet or more from your stationary left foot behind. Lower your upper body while stepping forward.

Your left knee should be close to touching the floor and your left foot should be on its toes. Hold position for 1 second. Push with your right heel and raise your upper body untill right knee becomes slightly bent and step forward with your left leg.

You should end in same position but with your left foot in front and right knee close to the floor and foot on its toes. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

10. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

This exercise trains your hamstrings intensely with a powerful stretch. It also activates your glutes and hips.

Target Muscle Worked: Hamstrings

Other Muscles: Erector Spinae, Adductors & Glutes

Exercise Type: Compound

Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

Starting Position

Grasp dumbbells and hold them by your side. Stand with feet shoulder width or narrower stance. This is your starting position.

Exercise Movement

Keep your back and knees straight and bent your hips as far as they can. Then bend your waist till dumbbell reaches your toes. During this movement your grip will change from neutral to palms facing you.

Also try to relax your entire arm as if the dumbbell is just hanging from your arms.

With back constanly straight lift your torso up again by extending your hips until you are upright. Just before you reach upright position contract your glutes while pushing forwards with your hips. This is 1 rep.

Repeat the movement for given rep range.

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