Build muscular arms with these six simple dumbbell exercises for biceps, triceps and shoulders

A simple upper-body workout that's suitable for beginners

Woman doing a bicep curl with a dumbbell
(Image credit: Getty Images)

To build a strong upper body, all you really need is a pair of dumbbells and a few simple exercises.

If you're looking for a beginner-friendly workout to get you started, we recommend this one from certified trainer Elise Young. It's made up of six exercises but will target a range of muscles across your arms, back, shoulders and core. The aim is to complete 12 repetitions of each move, three times round.

Watch the video below carefully to learn the exercises, then try it yourself.

Watch Elise Young's upper-body workout

Benefits of dumbbell workouts

One of the benefits of using dumbbells to build strength is that you can challenge both sides of your body equally. When you use something like a barbell, you might hold the weight more on one side of your body, which can lead to muscle imbalances.

You can do these exercises one arm at a time, or together. Either way, make sure you're reaching the same range of motion and using the same weight on both sides, even if one arm is stronger than the other. Again, this will help to prevent imbalances.

However, you can (and probably should) vary the weight you're using from exercise to exercise. For example, you may well find that you need a heavier weight for biceps curls than triceps kickbacks. 

If you're working out at home, consider investing in a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells, which will give you access to a wide range of weights in a compact package. 

Benefits of strengthening your upper body

There are plenty of benefits to training your upper-body. For a start, building up the muscles in your back and shoulders can improve your posture.

Increasing your muscle mass throughout the entire body will also speed up your metabolic rate, helping you to burn more calories in daily life, even while you're resting.

This particular workout can also help you improve your coordination, particularly if you're not used to lifting larger weights and feel overwhelmed by more complicated movements.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.