Build lean arms in just 9 minutes with this 3-move workout

All you need is a pair of dumbbells to give this fast, effective session a go

A woman performing a dumbbell curl
(Image credit: Future)

Unfortunately, we can't give you a superhero movie montage to grow your arms in a matter of moments. However, with this simple three-move workout you can put your biceps and triceps to task in just nine minutes. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and the willingness to work hard. 

We'd recommend grabbing a set of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) for this session as you can change their weight to suit your strength level. However, a fixed weight set, a pair of kettlebells or even two full water bottles will also do the trick. 

This workout has been programmed by fitness trainer and former professional dancer Anna Dima (opens in new tab), who specialises in creating minimal equipment sessions. 

It consists of just three movements (the hammer curl to press, dumbbell front raise and shoulder press) performed back-to-back for 40 seconds each. It should take you two minutes to complete all three exercises, by which point you've definitely earned yourself a short rest. Take a 60-second breather then start the circuit again – repeat this for three rounds to finish. 

Watch Dima's video below to learn more about the workout, including how to perform each exercise. Make sure you follow her lead to ensure you perform each movement with perfect form. 

Watch Anna Dima's three-move dumbbell arm workout

A post shared by Anna Dima - HOME WORKOUTS (@anna_dima) (opens in new tab)

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Dima's workout is an example of high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) or HIRT. A twist on popular HIIT workouts (opens in new tab), both of these exercise methods use intense bursts of exercise intermingled with short rest periods. 

This approach keeps your heart rate high, offering many of the same benefits as traditional cardio. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (opens in new tab) found it could help decrease body fat, improve VO2 max and positively impact factors related to heart disease such as resting heart rate.

What sets HIRT apart from HIIT is its inclusion of resistance training movements that challenge your muscles. This makes it a more effective form of exercise for building strength and muscle. 

If you want to slip this workout into your fitness routine, you can use it in isolation as an arm workout, or add it to an upper body session as a fun finisher. We would recommend giving your arms 24 hours to recover afterwards, so you could try a lower body session or even some active recovery like a run, cycle or walk the following day. 

Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.


When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.


Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.