Dumbbell Exercises
21 of The Best



Dumbbell exercises are a vital part of both men's and women's workouts. This guide takes you through the best dumbbell exercises for all the major areas of your body.

The versatility of dumbbells allows you to easily adapt your dumbbell workouts to your goals (e.g. strength, endurance, power). Also, you can do these exercises in the gym or at home with your own dumbbells.

Why are exercises with dumbbells so important?

The best thing about dumbbells, and any other free weights (e.g. barbells, kettlebells), is that the exercises you perform are based around the natural movement of your body.

This means that you strengthen your muscles according to their correct movement patterns. This results in better functional strength, and is easily adapted to strengthen for sport specific movements.

Functional strength is good because as well as building sexy looking muscles, it will also improve your ability to do daily lifting, pushing and pulling tasks. I mean, what's the point in having a sexy body, if you then injure your back whilst lifting the grocery bags?

The very nature of dumbbell exercises is that they work your stabilising muscles, which you don't get from machines. By building your strength from the inside (smaller stabilising muscles) to the outside (larger muscles that give you that sexy shape), you're getting the best of both worlds.

Here are 21 of the best dumbbell exercises to ensure you work all areas of your body. It's important to have a balance where you strengthen both the front and back areas of your body evenly.

Practice the proper form for each of these dumbbell exercises before you look to progress. Click here to find out more about strength training exercises.



Dumbbell Exercises

Dumbbell Exercises for Your Arms

Dumbbell Wrist Curl

  • Sit with your forearms resting on your thighs, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up.
  • Position your wrists so they are just beyond your knees.
  • Start with your wrists down, dumbbells resting on your fingers.
  • In one movement curl your fingers up followed by your wrists.
  • Hold for 2 seconds then lower back down.
Dumbbell Wrist CurlDumbbell Wrist Curl
Click here for dumbbell wrist curl VIDEOS




Dumbbell Bicep Curl
  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, core muscles braced, shoulders back and down.
  • Hold the dumbbells down by your sides, palms facing in (towards your body). Your elbows should stay fixed to your side throughout.
  • Focus on your biceps and lift the dumbbells by bending at your elbow.
  • As you lift, turn your palms to face up.
  • Then slowly bring the dumbbells back down to the starting position, keeping full control of the movement.
Dumbbell Bicep CurlDumbbell Bicep Curl
Click here for dumbbell bicep curl variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Exercises: Tricep Extension
  • Sit on a bench or chair (or stability ball for more of a challenge).
  • Holding 1 dumbbell with both hands (so that it's vertical to the floor), straighten your arms above your head (keeping elbows slightly bent).
  • Engage your core muscles to keep your back straight.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, bending at your elbows.
  • Keeping focused on your triceps, slowly lift the dumbbell back up to the starting point.
Dumbbell Tricep ExtensionDumbbell Tricep Extension
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Dumbbell Exercises: Close Grip Press
  • Lie on a bench, your arms up over your chest holding both dumbbells with palms facing each other.
  • Lower the dumbbells until your elbows are just below your shoulders.
  • Then press the dumbbells back up, bringing them close together at the top (without touching).
close-grip pressclose-grip press
Click here for dumbbell close grip press VIDEO




Dumbbell Exercises for Your Chest

Dumbbell Bench Press

  • Lie on a bench, your arms up over your chest holding both dumbbells with palms facing forward.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back in neutral (no more than a slight arch).
  • Lower the dumbbells by bending your elbows out to the sides. Keep going until your elbows are just below your shoulders.
  • Then press the dumbbells back up, bringing them close together at the top (without touching), and angled slightly inwards. Keep a slight bend in your elbows, don't allow them to "lock".
Bench PressBench Press
Click here for dumbbell bench press variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Exercises for Your Shoulders

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Standing or sitting, hold each dumbbell at head height (upper arms parallel to the floor, elbows bent at 90 degrees) and palms facing forward.
  • Make sure your back is straight (and not overly arched).
  • Brace your core muscles, and keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Slowly press the dumbbells straight up over your head.
  • Hold for 1 or 2 seconds and bring it back down to the starting position.
Dumbbell Shoulder PressDumbbell Shoulder Press
Click here for dumbbell shoulder press variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Hold a dumbbell with each hand by your side, palms facing in. Brace your core and keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout.
  • Slowly raise both dumbbells out to the sides. As you reach shoulder height, tilt the front of the dumbbells down slightly (so that your little finger is the highest point). This will ensure your elbows stay above your wrists, keeping the work on the middle and rear shoulders.
  • Pause as you reach shoulder height, then slowly come back down. Don't relax at the bottom of the rep, go straight into the next one.
Dumbbell Lateral RaiseDumbbell Lateral Raise
Click here for dumbbell lateral raise variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Exercises for Your Back

Dumbbell Pullovers

  • Lie across a bench (so that only your upper back, shoulders and neck are resting on the bench).
  • Keep your back neutral, head still and both feet flat on the floor (knees bent at 90 degrees).
  • Hold the dumbbell over your chest with both hands. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell back and behind your head. Feel the stretch further by lowering your hips a little at the bottom of the lift.
  • Then slowly lift the dumbbell back up above your chest.
Dumbbell PulloversDumbbell Pullovers
Click here for dumbbell pullover variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Row
  • Place the dumbbell to the right of the bench.
  • Place your left knee on the bench, keep your right foot on the floor beside the bench with knee slightly bent.
  • Bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight and parallel to the floor. Rest your left hand at the top of the bench.
  • Pick the dumbbell up in your right hand, palm facing in.
  • Row the dumbbell up by bending at your elbow. Keep going until your elbow is level with (or just beyond) your back.
  • Then slowly lower it down.
  • Complete all reps on one side then repeat on the opposite side.
Dumbbell RowDumbbell Row
Click here for dumbbell row variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Exercises: Shrug
  • Stand holding the dumbbells down by your sides, palms facing in.
  • Shrug your shoulders straight up.
  • Then come back straight down (don't roll them forward or back).
Dumbbell ShrugDumbbell Shrug




Dumbbell Exercises for Your Core, Butt and Legs

Dumbbell Exercises: Side Bends

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees very slightly bent (you should never stand with your knees locked).
  • Hold the dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in. Keep your right arm straight throughout, rest your left hand on your waist.
  • Slowly bend to the right from your waist, then back up.
  • Slowly bend to the left from your waist, then back up.
  • Complete your reps then repeat with the dumbbell in your left hand.
Dumbbell Side BendsDumbbell Side Bends
Click here for dumbbell side bend VIDEOS




Dumbbell Squat
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes facing straight ahead.
  • Hold a dumbbell with both hands up by your chest.
  • Keep your back neutral (not overly arched or slouched), chest up and head facing forward throughout.
  • Bend your knees and go down into the squat by using your glutes to stick your butt backwards (like you're about to sit down).
  • Keep going until your knees are almost at 90 degrees. Keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet, but don't let them bend beyond your toes.
  • Focus on your thighs and butt as you come back up.
  • Go into the next rep without locking your knees. Complete your reps and sets with slow, steady movements.
Dumbbell SquatDumbbell Squat
Click here for dumbbell squat variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Exercises: Wide Squat
  • Hold a dumbbell at the top of your upper back with both hands.
  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward and your back straight.
  • Bend your knees and go down into the squat by using your glutes to stick your butt backwards (like you're about to sit down).
  • Keep going until your knees are almost at 90 degrees. Keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet.
  • Return back up by pushing with your butt, hams and quads.
Dumbbell Wide SquatDumbbell Wide Squat
Click here for dumbbell wide squat VIDEO




Dumbbell Exercises: Split Squat
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side and stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Take a large step forward with your left foot. Keep your right foot grounded for balance.
  • Bend both knees so that your body is lowered straight down.
  • Keep your back straight throughout.
  • Return back up by pushing with your butt, hams and quads of the front leg.
  • Complete all reps with one leg then repeat with the opposite leg.
Dumbbell Split SquatDumbbell Split Squat
Click here for dumbbell split squat VIDEO




Dumbbell Exercises: Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side and stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Take a large step forward from a bench, then place the laces of one foot onto the bench.
  • Keep your back straight throughout.
  • Bend your front knee to lower your body down.
  • Return back up by pushing with your butt, hams and quads of the front leg.
  • Complete all reps with one leg then repeat with the opposite leg.
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split SquatDumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat




Dumbbell Lunge
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side and stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Take a large step forward with your left foot. Keep your right foot grounded for balance, bend both knees so that your body is lowered straight down.
  • Keep your back straight and upright throughout.
  • Use the front leg to return back up and step back.
  • Alternate legs for each rep.
Dumbbell LungeDumbbell Lunge




Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side and stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Take a large step backward with your left foot. Bend both knees so that your body is lowered straight down.
  • Keep your back straight and upright throughout.
  • Use the front leg to return back up and step forward.
  • Complete all reps on one leg then repeat with the opposite leg.
Dumbbell Reverse LungeDumbbell Reverse Lunge




Dumbbell Exercises: Calf Raises
  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand down by your side.
  • Stand on the floor, wrap your left foot around the back of your right ankle.
  • Keep your right leg straight (without locking knees). Focus on your core muscles to stay balanced.
  • Raise onto the ball of your right foot, moving only at your ankle.
  • Then slowly come back down, keeping your balance without rocking back onto your heel.
  • Complete your reps and then repeat with your left foot (holding dumbbell in your left hand).
Dumbbell Calf RaisesDumbbell Calf Raises
Click here for dumbbell calf raise variations and VIDEOS




Dumbbell Exercises for Your Whole Body

Dumbbell Exercises: Clean and Press

  • Stand directly behind the dumbbells with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Squat down by pushing your butt back, bending the knees and keep your back straight.
  • Grip the dumbbells (overhand), steady yourself and use your legs, butt, upper back and arms to burst up to standing.
  • Flip your wrists back so that the dumbbells rest above your chest.
  • Keep a slight bend in your knees, then press the dumbbells up above your head.
  • Pause for 1 second then bring the dumbbells back down to your chest, then to the floor by squatting again.
Dumbbell Clean and PressDumbbell Clean and PressDumbbell Clean and Press
Click here for dumbbell clean and press VIDEO




Dumbbell Exercises: RDL
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your thighs and stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Push your butt back and slightly bend your knees, keeping the dumbbells as close to your thighs, knees and shins as possible.
  • Keep your back and arms straight throughout.
  • Stand back up before your back starts to round, by using your butt and hams.
  • Also use your upper back to bring your body upright.
Dumbbell RDLDumbbell RDL
Click here for dumbbell Romanian deadlift (RDL) VIDEO




Dumbbell Exercises: Deadlift
  • Stand directly behind the dumbbells with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Squat down by pushing your butt back, bending the knees and keeping your back straight.
  • Grip the dumbbells (overhand) with elbows outside knees.
  • Use your legs, butt, upper back and arms to burst up to standing.
  • Pause for a second then return back down, making sure your back remains flat.
Dumbbell DeadliftDumbbell Deadlift
Click here for dumbbell deadlift VIDEO




Combining Dumbbell Exercises Into Workouts

Now that you have an idea of what these dumbbell exercises look like and their best technique, you'll want to put them into workouts.

There are literally thousands of different combinations of workouts that you could do just from the dumbbell exercises on this page, depending on what your goals are.

Click HERE for a huge secret stash of workouts that has been compiled for you. These workout plans will walk you through the sets and reps for your specific end goal.

Use this dumbbell exercises page as a reference for your technique (bookmark for easy access), then click below to reach your goals with workouts:

=> Click Here to Discover Dumbbell Workouts Made For You <=

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