On this page you will find some of my favourite dumbbell exercises. If your into weight training, chances are you train with both barbells and dumbbells.
Dumbbells, like barbell’s can provide you with a fantastic workout that takes breaks down free weight training to it’s basic fundamentals.
Training with dumbbells stimulates a large number of muscle fibres and therefore can result in muscle growth at an alarming rate.
The reason being is that training with dumbbells to extreme intensity will push just about anyone into the pain zone. *Get your free weight training exercise guide here.
I like to think of dumbbells as taking the barbell movement one step further. With a barbell, you’re limited by the movements range of motion by the actual bar. Not so with dumbbells, you can actually improve the range of motion with certain movements such as the bench press.
Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to provide you with some dumbbell exercise illustrations. This way, you can see how the exercises should be performed.
If you want a comprehensive dumbbell with full dumbbell exercise illustrations, I recommend you try the programs over at Dumbbell Routines.com. They have a full range of dumbbell programs for you to choose from.
Let’s take a look at some of my favourite dumbbell movements.
Illustration #1 Flat Bench Press with Dumbbells
This is a great substitute for the bench press as it hits the entire chest area. This is a pretty simple exercise to perform. To start, simply pick up a pair of dumbbells and lie down on a flat bench. Once the dumbbells are on either sides of your chest, press the weight all the weight up until your arms are straight.
Simply lower the weight to chest level and press back up to the starting position (as in the image above)
Illustration #2 – Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes
This is a great finishing movement for you chest routine. Done right, this exercise will sitmulate the entire chest area. To perform this exercise, simply pick up a pair of dumbbells, and like the flat bench press, lie back on the bench and bring the dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Take a deep breath and press the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended. Twist the dumbbells inward until your palms are facing each other.
Simply bring them down, as in the image above, to just above parallel, and bring the dumbbells back up. Keep your arms slightly bent while performing this movement.
Illustration #3 – Incline Dumbbell Press
This exercise is a great substitute for the incline barbell press. The incline dumbbell press is a great mass builder. To do this exercise, simple pick up a pair of dumbbells and lie back down on the incline bench. Bring the dumbbells to the sides of you chest and press the weight up until your arms are fully extended. Take a deep breath and lower the weight until the dumbbells are just above the sides of you chest. After a bried pause, press the weight back up until the dumbbells are fully extended.
Illustration #4 – Incline Dumbbell Flyes
This movement is almost identical to the flat bench fly, except that your in an incline position. To do this exercise, simple take hold of two dumbbells and lie back on to a bench, bringing the weight up to your chest. Take a deep breath and press the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended. Once at the top, turn your hands inward until your palms are facing each other. Slowly lower the weight until just above parallel and bring the dummbbell back up. Imagine yourself hugging a big tree, this is how you should do the movement. Keep your arms slightly bent while performing this movement.
Illustration #5 – Decline Dumbbell Press
This movement is kind of tricky to get going. You can either have someone hand you the dumbbells or you can do it yourself. To do it yourself, grab two dumbbells in each hand and get yourself situated on the decline bench. Once in, lie down on the bench and bring the dumbbells to the sides of your chest.
Take a deep breath and press the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended. Slowly bring the dumbbells back down until they are at the sides of your chest. Pause briefly and press the weight back up to the starting position.
Illustration #6 – Dumbbell Pull Over
This is a grea mass builder for the mid back area. This is a pretty simple exercise to perform. Simply grab a dumbbell and find yourself a flat bench. Bend at the waist with your knees slightly bent. Grab the dumbbell and pull it towards the outside of your chest. The weight shouldn’t touch your chest as it should be pulled to the outside of your chest area. Once at the top, pause briefly and bring it back down.
Illustration #8 – Shrugs
This exercise will build the muscles just above your collar bone called the trapezuis. This is a very simple exercise to perform. Simply grab two dumbbells and hold at the sides of your hips. Simply shrug the weight up and down. Keep your head straight.
Illustration #9 – Dumbbell Deadlift
This exercise is a great substitute for the barbell dead lift. To perform this exercise, grab two dumbbells and keep them at your sides. Slowly bend the knees until your knees are parallel with the ground. Pause and using your legs, squat back up.
Illustration #10 – Seated dumbbell presses
This exericse is a great shoulder builder. To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells and sit down on a bench. I recommend you use a bench with a back rest. Once seated, curl the dumbbells until they are at shoulder level. Once at shoulder level, you can perform the movement in one of two ways. You can turn the dumbbell outward until your palms are facing outward or you can keep your palms facing each other. I prefer the later because it takes some of the pressure off the rotator cuffs. Press the weight up and slowly bring them back down. Keep your back straight.
Illustration #11 – Side lateral raises
This is a great finishing movement for my shoulder routine. To do this movement, grab two dumbbells and hold them at your sides (or at the front of your waist). Slightly bend your arms and bring the dumbbells up to just below parallel. Bring them back down.
Illustration #12 – Alternate Front Dumbbell Press
This exercise primarily hits the front of the shoulder. The positioning is the same as the side laterals. Grab two dumbbells and hold them at your sides. Take a deep breath and raise the dumbbells until the are just below parallel. Slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.
Illustration #13 – Bent Over Dumbbell Laterals
This exercise hits the back of your shoulders. To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells and sit down on the end of a bench with your knees outward.
Bend at the waist until your knees are almost touching your chest. Keep the dumbbells under your thighs and raise them up until just below parallel. Remember to keep your arms slightly bent while performing this exercise.
Illustration #14 – The Arnold Press
I’ll give you a guess who this exercise is named after. The one and only Arnold came up with this exercise and it’s designed to stimulate the front and side deltoid heads. This exericse is almost identical to the seated front shoulder press. Grab two dumbbells and sit down on a flat bench, preferrably one with a back rest.
Curl the weight up to shoulder level and turn your palms until they are facing backward (as in the image). Slowly press the weight up and about mid way through, your going turn your palms forward, while pressing upward until they are facing forward – At the top of the movement.
As you lower the weight back down, your going to do the reverse of what you did bringing the weight up. When you bring the weight back down, slowly turn your palms until they are facing back ward- At the end of the movement. See the image above.
Illustration #15 – Single Side Dumbbell Lateral
Grab a dumbbell with one arm and bring it to your side. I like to grab onto the dumbbell rack or the back of the bench with my free hand – As in the image above. Slightly bend forward and raise the weight up with your one arm until the dumbbell is just below parallel. Pause briefly and lower the dumbbell.
Illustration #16 – Seated alternate dumbbell curl
This is a great exercise for the biceps but a little tricky to perform. The whole point of this exercise is to turn your palms inward as you curl the weight. This adds more contraction to your biceps.
To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells and take a seat on the end of a flat bench (you can also do these standing up). While seated, the dumbbells should be at the sides of your body with your palms facing each other. Slowly curl one dumbbell up and as you do, slowly turn the outside of your palm inward until they are facing you, at the top of the movement.
As your bring the weight back down, your going to do the reverse of this and slowly turn your palms outward again. Do the same for the other arm.
Illustration #17 – Concentration curl
Grab a light dumbbell and take a seat on the end of a bench. Slightly bend at the waist, as in the image above. With the dumbbell in one hand, curl the weight up using only your biceps. I keep my arm braced on my leg for added support. Repeat with the other arm.
Illustration #18 – Flat Bench Dumbbell Curl
You can get into position in one of two ways. The first way, you can grab two dumbbells and lie back on a flat bench with the dumbbells at your sides. The second method, simply lie back on the bench at grab the dumbbells on the floor. It’s up to you. Once you are in position, simply curl the weight up and down. Once you’ve finished the repetitions, drop the weight on the floor.
Illustration #19 – Incline Dumbbell Curl
Grab two dumbbells and lie back on an incline bench. You can use the incline bench press or a multi purpose bench. I like to curl the weight up while I’m seated and lie back with the dumbbells on my chest. Once in position, slowly lower the weight and curl the weight back up.
Illustration #20 – Standing Dumbbell Curl
This is a great thigh builder. To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells and keep them at your sides. To start, take a step forward with your left leg and bend until your right knee almost touches the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat with the right leg.
Illustration #22 – Dumbbell Squat
This movement is almost identical to the dumbbell deadlift. The only thing that’s different is that your going to concentrate more on the thighs. To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells and keep at your sides, palms facing each other. Simple squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and squat the weight back up.
Illustration #23 – Dumbbell Stiff Leg DeadliftFlyes
This is a fantastic hamstring builder. To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells and hold them at your sides. Slightly bend your kness and bend at the waist like your going to touch your toes. Keep the dumbbells out in front and go down until you feel a comfortable stretch. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Illustration #24 – One Arm Dumbbell Extensions
You can either do this exercise seated or standing. I personally prefer to be seated. Take on dumbbell and press it up and over your head. Once the dumbbell is extended over your head, lower the weight at the elbow while keeping your arm straight – As in the image above. Lower the weight until it’s just below the top of your head.
Illustration #25 – Seated Single Dumbbell Extnesions
Grab a dumbbell from the rack and sit down on a flat bench, or a bench with a back rest. Using both hands, press the weight up until your arms are fully extended. Re-adjust the weight until both hands are wrapped around the top of the dumbbell. Slowly lower the weight until the dumbbell is just below the top of your head. Word of caution, if your using adjustable weight, make sure the collar is on nice and tight, otherwise, you might be wearing the plates as a hat.
Illustration #26 – Triceps Kickbacks
All the best,
Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.
Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.