There’s nothing quite as satisfying as flexing in the mirror and noticing some arm muscles you never knew were there. But if you’ve been doing the same old bicep curls for months without seeing results, it might be time to mix things up.
These five creative exercises from Daily Burn trainer Anja Garcia — trainer for Daily Burn’s Inferno and Cardio Sculpt programs — can be done practically anywhere, and all you need is a set of dumbbells. (No clue which size weights to use? Check out this handy guide to choose the best ones.) While these exercises will definitely tone your shoulder and arm muscles (biceps and triceps included), you’ll be pumped to know they also work out your back, core, glutes and legs, too.
Garcia advises performing 15 to 20 reps of each exercise, for three to four sets, for a complete workout in less than 30 minutes. Grab your weights and get ready to flex!
Get Toned Biceps and Triceps
1. Weighted Punches Exercise
Targets: Shoulders, back, core, biceps
How to: Stand with feet slightly wider than the width of a yoga mat, dumbbell in each hand. Bending at the elbows, raise the dumbbells to shoulder height (a). Squat down, keeping knees over ankles, pushing through your heels. As you return to standing, come up balancing on your left leg, while thrusting upwards with your right leg, knee bent. At the same time, using your left hand, punch from left to right, crossing your body (b). Bring arm back to starting position, return to a squat and repeat punch on opposite side.
2. Weighted Tricep Dips and Leg Switch
Targets: Triceps, abs, glutes, balance/stability
How to: Sit on the ground, legs in front of you. Supporting yourself on your hands and feet, raise your butt off the ground, until your back is flat and your knees are bent to nearly 90 degrees in a reverse tabletop position. Place a dumbbell on your lower abdomen, just above your hips, for added resistance (a). Position your hands so your fingertips are pointing towards your toes. Bending at the elbows, lower your butt until it is just above the ground, while simultaneously lifting your right leg straight up into the air (b). Repeat, raising your opposite leg.
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3. Figure 4 Bicep Curls
Targets: Biceps, glutes, quads
How to: Stand up straight, dumbbell in each hand, palms facing up. Balance on the left leg, knee slightly bent, and place your right foot on your left thigh, just above the knee, making a “figure four” with your legs (a). Engaging your core to maintain balance, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Then, using control, lower the weights again until your arms are nearly straight (b). Complete reps, then switch legs for your next set.
4. Superman Punches
Targets: Back, core, shoulders
How to: Get into a push-up position on the floor, gripping a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inwards. Make sure your back is straight and your core is engaged (a). Lift the dumbbell in your right hand, performing a rowing motion, keeping your elbow pinned to your side. When your arm is at a 90-degree angle, punch forward with your right hand. Keep your hips square and avoid rocking to one side or the other (b). Lower the arm, planting your hand (still holding the dumbbell) directly under the right shoulder where you started (c). Switch sides with a punch on the left.
5. Caterpillar Push-Ups
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, core, quads
How to: Position your feet on top of a plyo box, hands on the floor just in front of the box, knees bent. Slowly walk your hands out until you are in a decline push-up position (a). Perform one push-up (can’t do one? learn how to start here), then slowly crawl your hands back, until your knees are bent and hands are just in front of the box (b). Repeat. Beginners can perform this move with their feet on a floor, instead of on a box. Or, for further modification, perform with knees on the floor. Choose the variation that’s best for you.
For even more body-sculpting exercises and a new workout every day from Daily Burn, sign up for a free trail at DailyBurn.com.
Originally published October 2015. Updated January 2018.