Below is a list of what we think are the best dumbbell exercises.
This list of the best dumbbell exercises was created for anyone looking to get strong or build muscle. These dumbbell exercises were carefully chosen based on their effectiveness and their classic status. You should be able to find at least one that targets each of the major muscle groups.
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Alternated Biceps Curl
- Shoulder Press
- Triceps Kickback
- Kneeling One Arm Row
- Lateral Raise
- Lying Fly
- Upright Row
- Stationary Lunge
- Toe Raise
The dumbbell bench press is one of the best dumbbell exercises for the chest. Ideally, it does require you to have access to a flat bench. However, the dumbbell chest press can be performed on the floor, which is recommended for certain shoulder injuries. The dumbbell chest press remains one of the best ways to target your pectoral muscles (chest), your triceps, as well as your front deltoids (shoulders).
If you have access to a reclining and declining bench you’ll be able to modify the setup in a way as to perform the Incline Bench Press and the Decline Bench Press. The incline, i.e. putting the bench in a 45 degree angle modification will help you target the upper region of your pectorals. The decline bench, i.e. putting the bench below horizontal, will help you target the lower levels of your chest muscles.
How to perform the dumbbell bench press. Lie on your back on a bench and hold 2 dumbbells at chest level along your body, palms facing your feet. Raise the dumbbells straight up until your elbows are close to being locked and lower them back slowly after a short pause. Breathe out when raising the dumbbells and breathe in when lowering them back.
The alternated biceps curl is another classic dumbbell exercise that definitely belongs in this list of the best dumbbell exercises. There are many variations of this basic exercise, the main benefit is to strengthen your biceps muscles and your forearms.
Perform this exercise by raising both dumbbells at the same. The hammer variation of the biceps curl is done by keeping your palms facing each other throughout the movement. Alternatively, try the concentrated version of the biceps curl by limiting your movement to half-way up. If you have access to a preacher curl pad, try the preacher curl variation.
How to perform the alternated biceps curl. Stand up and hold one dumbbell with each hand down the side of your body, palms facing each other. Raise one dumbbell until it reaches your shoulder’s height and while slowly lowering it back down after a short pause, start raising the other one. Try NOT to jerk your upper body in an effort to help you lift the weights.
The dumbbell shoulder press is probably one of the best dumbbell exercises for the shoulder muscles. The dumbbell shoulder press is performed by raising your two hands at the same time. Or, try the alternating version by pushing one hand up while lowering the other. It can also be done while sitting down if your ceiling is low or even with a back-supported vertical bench if you want to remove your back from the equation entirely.
This is a great exercise to build muscle and strengthen your deltoid muscles (shoulders). The shoulder press also exercises your triceps, making this an excellent upper body exercise.
The triceps kickback exercise is to triceps what the biceps curl is to biceps: it’s an all time classic and one of the best dumbbell exercises for the triceps. While you will need to put your knee on a flat bench this setup will render performing the exercise very comfortable.
To maximize the input from your triceps, make sure that your upper arm stays still throughout the exercise. It is important to make sure the upper arm is still, otherwise you’ll get your back and shoulders to help take the load off of your main target.
The Kneeling One-Arm Row is probably the best dumbbell exercises for the back. The action of putting your knee and hand on a flat bench will make targeting your middle back muscles (lats) very comfortable and effective.
While your lats will do most of the work, the rear deltoid muscle will also be used in helping raise the dumbbell.
The Lateral Raise dumbbell exercise is the best way to specifically target your shoulder muscles. This exercise specifically targets your outer deltoid muscles is one of our best dumbbell exercises for the shoulder muscles.
This exercise can also be performed while sitting down or with your back supported. Additionally, bending your upper body forward will put a greater emphasis on your rear deltoids, thus making it possible to target specific regions of your shoulders.
The Lying Fly dumbbell exercise is best done with a flat bench. Along with the Dumbbell Bench Press exercise, it is one of the best dumbbell exercises to target your chest muscles.
What distinguishes the Lying Fly from the dumbbell bench or chest press is that it manages to remove the triceps muscles from the movement. The triceps are removed by effectively locking them up in position for the duration of the exercise. This will allow you to put a greater emphasis on specifically strengthening your pectoral muscles.
You can also perform the incline variation and the decline variation if your workout bench will allow it.
The Upright Row exercise is the last of the shoulder exercises to be included in our best dumbbell exercises list and is the first one to bring in the upper back muscles, or trapezius to be specific.
This exercise is very effective at targeting the rear region of your shoulder muscles and can be performed very easily.
Dumbbells are well adapted to strengthening the leg muscles, however, leg dumbbell exercises are not always the most popular.
The Stationary Lunge is an easy to perform leg exercise that’s exceptionally good at targeting the muscles located in your lower body (quadriceps, glutes, and calves) and a lot of athletes spanning the entire sports spectrum use it religiously.
Finally, the last exercise on the list targets the calf muscles located at the rear of your lower legs.
The Toe Raise is the most effective way to strengthen your calves which are used during normal daily activities but especially running and jumping.
After strengthening your calf muscles, it is important to keep them supple by carrying out calf muscle stretches.