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Arm Circuit Workout at Home with Dumbbells: How to Maximize Your Pump

March 25, 2020

Arm Circuit Workout at home with dumbbells

Are you ready for an arm workout that’s going to give the best pump in your biceps and triceps that you’ve ever had?

In this post, you’re going to get an arm workout that you can do at home with dumbbells. And I’m going to show how to combine 3 different methods to maximize your pump.

You don’t need any special equipment for this workout; just a pair of dumbbells. In fact, you can use the same weight for all of these exercises. And you can do this in a small space in your home or on the patio (as you’ll see below).

Even lighter weights will do because I’m also going to show you how to make light weights feel heavier by forcing your muscles to work harder.

4 Simple Muscle Building Dumbbell Exercises for Arms

First, let’s cover the arm exercises you’ll be doing. These are basic dumbbell movements but remember, there are 3 special methods you’re going to be doing that will take this workout to the next level.

Alternate Curls

Alternate curls are a great muscle builder because they directly target your biceps. The rotation of your wrists recruit the different parts of your biceps throughout the rep.

How to do alternating dumbbell curls:

  • Start by standing up holding the dumbbells by your side
  • Curl one arm up while rotating your wrist outward
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm
  • TIP: Don’t sway or jerk the weight up; force your biceps to do the work

Lying Dumbbell Extensions

Lying tricep extensions work your entire tricep muscles. You’ll most often see this exercise performed with a barbell or cambered bar. But using dumbbells gives you a greater advantage for building your triceps because of the additional balance and stability required.

How to do lying tricep extensions with dumbbells:

  • Lying on a bench, hold both dumbbells up over your chest
  • Keeping your arms straight, bend your elbows so that the dumbbells move towards your face (your arms should be at a 90-degree angle)
  • Press the dumbbells back to the starting position
  • TIP: Don’t let your elbows flare out, as the Muscle & Strength article ‘Lying Triceps Extension (Skullcrushers) Video Guide‘ points out;
    Flex your triceps at the top of the movement but don’t lock your arms out all the way; keep the tension on your triceps, not your joints

Hammer Curls

Hammer curls will help you add both size and shape to your biceps. Per Old School Lab’s article ‘Hammer Curls vs. Bicep Curls: Which One Builds Bigger Arms?‘ they also develop more thickness and work your forearms more than other types of curls. It’s an awesome exercise to do in every arm workout.

How to do dumbbell hammer curls:

  • Like alternate curls, stand up and hold the dumbbells by your side
  • Do not rotate your wrist when you curl the weight; keep your palms facing one another
  • You can do this one arm at a time or with both arms simultaneously (the image shows single-arm but there with be an arm workout video below that shows this being done with both arms).
  • TIP: Keep your stores straight and don’t use momentum

Overhead Dumbbell Extensions

Overhead dumbbell extensions are also one of the better muscle builders for your arms. This exercise can be done in several ways: single-arm, both arms holding one dumbbell, and both arms simultaneously holding separate dumbbells. And you can also do these seated or standing. In the case of this workout, we’re doing single-arm and standing.

How to do overhead dumbbell extensions:

  • Start by standing up holding the dumbbells by your side
  • Curl one arm up while rotating your wrist outward
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm
  • TIP: As the article ‘How To Do An Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension‘ on the Coach Mag UK website suggests, don’t go too heavy on this exercise. Rather, go lighter and make the weights feel heavier by doing extremely controlled reps.

3 Methods to Maximize Your Pump

I’m now going to show you how to make these arm exercises more intense to build more muscle. You’re going to be combining 3 methods here. And these are going to give you that deep burn in your biceps and triceps, taking your workout to the next level.

Rest-Pause Sets:

Rest-pause sets work like this:

  • Perform a set
  • Rest 10-15 seconds
  • Perform another set using the same weight
  • In this workout, you’ll do 10 reps.

This method works especially well for biceps and triceps, increasing the blood flow into the muscle. Now, to make the exercises even more intense, you’re going to do something different for that second round (the rest-pause part) below…

20-Rep Sets:

On that second part of the rest-pause set, you’ll pump out 10 more reps. The reason we’re doing this is because when you’re working out at home you may not have heavy dumbbells like you would have access to at the gym.

So you’re utilizing what you have at home, going lighter, but making the workout just as intense. And you’re pumping more blood into the muscle by doing a total of 20 reps.

Circuit Training:

Lastly, you’re not going to be doing the typical bodybuilding workout where you do an exercise, rest, repeat, etc. Instead, you’re going to use the circuit training method where you go from one exercise to another.

To further maximize your arm pump, you’ll also be alternating a tricep with a bicep exercise. This is working those agonist and antagonist muscles back to back.

*You can read more about agonist-antagonist training in my post: Lean and Strong Workout Program Using Agonist-Antagonist Supersets

Arm Workout with Dumbbells

Dumbbells - biceps - alternate curls

Now it’s time to put it all together for your arm workout. This is what you will do for each exercise:

  • Perform your first set for each exercise with slow, controlled reps for 10 reps
  • Rest 10-15 seconds
  • Perform another set using the same weight, but this time do faster reps and pump out 10 more reps (make sure you’re still getting the full range of motion for each rep)
  • Rest about 20-30 seconds and go to the next exercise, and repeat this method for each exercise thereafter until you complete the circuit
  • You can repeat the circuit 2-3 more times for a full arm workout
Alternate curls*10 controlled reps
rest 10-15 seconds
10 pump reps
Lying tricep extensions10 controlled reps
rest 10-15 seconds
10 pump reps
Hammer curls10 controlled reps
rest 10-15 seconds
10 pump reps
Overhead extensions**10 controlled reps
rest 10-15 seconds
20 pump reps

*For alternate curls, do single-arm curls for the first 10 reps and then pump out those final 10 reps with both arms simultaneously as the video below shows.
**For overhead extensions, you’ll do single-arms for the first 10 reps and then hold one dumbbell both hands and pump out 20 reps for the final part of your set.

VIDEO: Arm Workout At Home

If you’d like a full dumbbell workout routine you can do at home, be sure to read my post: Muscle Building Workout at Home with Dumbbells

Getting an Arm Pump at Home

As you see, you can get an awesome pump in your biceps and triceps at home. And again, you don’t need super heavy dumbbells for this.

Actually, most of the time you see people curling heavy dumbbells their form sucks and they’re not really working the muscle.

Instead, you’re going to be forcing your muscles to work by using controlled reps at the beginning of each set. After that, you’re going to pump even more blood into your muscles and exhaust your muscles by cranking out 10 more reps to finish the rest-pause set.

You’ll also see that you get a better pump by alternating your bicep and tricep exercises, working those agonist and antagonist muscles together.

I hope you enjoy this arm workout, and please feel free to share this post if it helped you!

Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,


About the author

Jason Stallworth

Hi, I'm Jason Stallworth and I created The Muscle Program in 2010 for the purpose of helping you build muscle. I know first-hand how weight training and being in the gym has shaped my life in more way than one. And here is where I share that experience with you so that you can continue pushing yourself and becoming the best version of yourself each day!