It only takes 20 minutes to build bigger arms with this dumbbell workout

This short routine works your biceps and triceps to build lean, practical arm muscle

Man performing dumbbell curls
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From building visible muscle to making everyday lifting tasks easier, there are plenty of reasons to develop strength in your arms. But you don't just have to do endless bicep curls to see results, as this varied 20-minute dumbbell routine shows.

If you're working out at home, all you need is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These are a space-saving way to build muscle, but they're also flexible, allowing you to increase the load as you develop strength.

For those training at the gym, use these beginner strength training tips to find a load that'll challenge you but isn't so heavy that you struggle to lift it and end up impacting your form, which can lead to injury.

With weights by your side, you can begin The Body Coach's 20-minute arm workout. The routine, designed by Joe Wicks (opens in new tab) (the personal trainer known as The Body Coach), works your biceps and triceps for a time-efficient muscle-building session.

There are five exercises, and you'll do two sets of 10-15 repetitions of each; one heavy set and one light set. So, you'll need two pairs of dumbbells (a light option and a heavy option), or you can change the load of your adjustable weights between sets.

Watch The Body Coach's 20-minute arm workout

Although bicep curls make an appearance in the routine, so do other arm-focused exercises like tricep push-ups, hammer curls, overhead tricep extensions, and bicep cross-body curls. If you're new to these moves, Wicks demonstrates each during the short session.

It's always important to focus on your form if you want to see results from your workout, but it is especially important for avoiding injury when working with weights. Fortunately, you can use the best bicep workouts to practice your technique before taking on Wicks' routine.

If you add this routine to your workout schedule, or even if you just use some of the five moves regularly in your sessions, you'll develop strength and start to build muscle. But you'll need to use the progressive overload technique to avoid plateauing.

It might sound complex, but the aim is to challenge your muscles as you get stronger by increasing the weight you lift. Alternatively, you could increase the number of reps you do for each exercise or reduce the rest time between sets.

If you're after a way to build stronger arms and develop muscle in your upper body, then it's worth learning how to do dumbbell pullovers. This compound exercise works multiple muscles simultaneously and engages your arms and shoulders.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.