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Dumbbells: Shaping Attractive Arms

Kenna works with doctors and natural healthcare professionals. Her experience as a fitness instructor helps her share positive health tips.

Tips for using dumbells to build your arm muscles.

Tips for using dumbells to build your arm muscles.

Attractive Arms

Biceps and arm flexors need as much attention as triceps. Each of these muscles, when toned, is gorgeous to view and helps maintain a healthy look.

Shaping both the biceps and arm flexors helps when you understand where these muscles are on the arm.

The biceps muscle performs on the opposite side of the triceps muscle. The biceps lifts the arm up and down when the two-part muscle contracts.

The biceps turn the palm of your hand the opportunity to rotate upward. It is necessary to work out the biceps to help your arms properly function. The following exercises work out and tone the biceps, strengthening your arms.

Stretch Your Forearms and Biceps

Before working with your forearms and biceps, stretch them well to prevent injury or discomfort. Michael J. Alter's book Sport Stretch: 311 Stretches for 41 Sports has an excellent section dedicated to limbering the forearms and biceps. It's my go-to book for stretching.

Alter's book organizes specific stretches to the lower, torso, and upper body. He also has sections for particular sports, such as tennis, soccer, baseball, and kayaking.


The dumbbells are two free weights. They work as a pair in each hand or individually, depending on the type of exercise.

The origination of the word "dumbbells" refers to the apparatus that rings the church bell. If the church didn't have an object to hit the hollow bell in the tower when the rope gets pulled, there would be silence or "dumb." These weights do not ring bells, so we call them "dumbbells."

Three, Five and Eight Pound Dumbbells

Three, Five and Eight Pound Dumbbells

What Weight Dumbbells Should a Beginner Use?

Deciding how heavy the dumbbells should be for a beginner is not hard to figure out. I use a set of three, five, and eight-pound with clients. That way, when I show how to use proper form, we start with a three-pound or five-pound set of dumbbells.

The lighter the weight, the more control the user has for effective technique. Then, my client establishes a foundation of proper form, preventing injuries when we incrementally increase the weights.

When they demonstrate they understand and can do the proper form, we move up in weight or stay at the beginning weight until their muscles are stronger.

I like using colored dumbbells that signify the different size weights. My set has green for three pounds, pinkish orange for five pounds, and blue for eight pounds. That way, I look for the color, not the weight, when working out. I bought mine as a set with an app for workout tips.

Dumbbell Curls

Dumbbell curls work out and shape the biceps. Using dumbells, proper form, and a full range of motion is essential when exercising your biceps with curls. You are more likely to have better results in less time with proper form.

The steps for a proper dumbbell curl. Do at least 12 repetitions:

  1. Start by standing relaxed
  2. Weights comfortably in your hands
  3. Palms out
  4. Elbows slightly bent
  5. Lift the weights toward the shoulders
  6. Not touching the shoulders
  7. Elbows remain steady as you feel the full range of motion
  8. Slowly lower the weights back down
  9. Repeat

"My top priority in life is my workout. Regardless of what happens, I hit that gym. Even when I was in the hospital twice with serious knee operations: Right after I came out of anesthesia, there was a chin bar over my head and dumbbells. I worked out immediately."

— Jack LaLanne

Anatomy of the Universe

Anatomy of the Universe

Balance the Shoulders with Lateral Raise

The lateral raise works the shoulder and other muscles around the shoulder, thanks to working the deltoids. This exercise helps balance the lifting done by the bicep and tricep muscles.

To perform the lateral raise, I have my clients use lighter weight, three-pound, or five-pound dumbbells. Position your body as before with a dumbbell in each hand and arms down the side. Then, they slowly lift their arms straight out, paralleling their shoulders. And then return to the starting position.

Three sets of 10 will work the shoulders well. If this exercise seems easy, I have my clients perform three sets of 12 until it's super easy. Honestly, it rarely becomes super easy. The muscles around the shoulders are small, so heavy dumbbells will only strain the area, not improve it.


The forearm is the area from the elbow to the wrist. The two muscle groups in the forearm are called flexor muscles. They control the forearm because almost every wrist and hand movement stems from the flexor muscles. Working out these two muscles conditions the forearm and helps maintain a fluid flow throughout the exercise.


Forearm Curls

A simple but not easy forearm exercise, called forearm curls, is best for these muscles using dumbbells.

Forearm curls are performed on each arm by following these steps, doing 10 to 12 repetitions for best results:

  1. Start in a sitting position
  2. Pick up a dumbbell
  3. Hold it in your fist
  4. In a natural form, slowly allow the dumbbell's bar to roll
  5. Continue to the end of your fingers
  6. Roll the bar back up to the palms

The video shows how simple it looks to perform these curls, but it is not easy and takes practice.

Reverse Forearm Curl

Another way to work the forearm muscle is to reverse the forearm curl and perform a palm-down forearm curl using a dumbbell. This movement isolates the flexor muscles and strengthens them.

Performed by following these steps, keeping the arms still, on each wrist, doing 10 to 12 repetitions for best results:

  1. Start in a sitting position
  2. Pick up a dumbbell in one hand
  3. Hold it in your fist
  4. Rest the wrist against your knee
  5. Palm turned down
  6. In a natural form, slowly allow the dumbbell's bar to rise up
  7. Briefly pause
  8. Slowly lower the wrist back down

The video shows you how to perform this curl. The exercise is hard to achieve than it looks.

Keeping your arms in shape and well-defined is something to behold. The process starts with these simple exercises and a dedication to performing them at least three times a week.

Forearms Workout

I like the forearm workouts because working one side at a time helps my clients focus on their goals. Focus on watching your range of motion and keep your attention on what you intend to gain from the workout.

Keep at it until you see the positive results, and keep going. Don't stop. It would help if you worked out for the rest of your life. Keeping your arms in shape and well-defined is something to behold. The process starts with these simple exercises and a dedication to performing them three times a week.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Kenna McHugh