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Quick Arm and Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells at Home

April 20, 2020

Shoulders and Arms Workout At Home With Dumbbells

One of the most awesome muscles to train together for a workout is shoulders and arms. And I have the perfect workout you can do at home with just a pair of dumbbells.

This will be a relatively quick workout; you should be done in about 20 minutes. You’re also going to learn a few cool techniques to make your workout more intense.

The best part is you don’t need any equipment other than a pair of dumbbells. I’ll even show you how to get a good workout if all you have are light dumbbells.

I’m writing this during the time when we’re all under quarantine and most gyms around the world are closed.

This post is not intended to knock lifting heavy weight. Rather, it’s intended for those times when you can’t make it to the gym or your gym is closed for whatever reason.

Many do not have heavier weights at home, and buying weights can be expensive. So this workout shows you how to use what you have to get an intense workout (or you can buy a pair of lighter dumbbells, which aren’t so expensive).

Shoulders and Arms: The Workout

Alright, here’s the full workout for shoulders and arms. But first, let’s go over a few notes before you start…

  • You’re going to do 3 sets of each exercise
  • Rest 1 minute between exercises
  • For arms, you’ll be supersetting a bicep with a tricep exercise, so you’ll do 3 supersets (and rest 1 minute between the supersets for each)
  • Make sure you have a dedicated and clear area at home for this workout
  • You can essentially use the same dumbbells (same weight) for each exercise

**I’ll go into more depth explaining the techniques and exercises below the workout.

So be sure to read through those as you’ll find helpful tips to make your workouts at home more effective.

The Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Standing Dumbbell Press3 x 20
(10 unilateral +
10 regular reps)
Single-Arm Lateral Raises3 x 12
Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
superset with
Dumbbell Hammer Curls
3 x 12

3 x 12
Single-Arm Overhead Extensions
superset with
Alternating Dumbbell Curls
3 x 12

3 x 12

**In the video above, I talk briefly about this awesome pre-workout I’m taking called PREFIERCE by TRUFIERCE.

You can learn more about PREFIERCE BY TRUFIERCE here.

Workout Methods Explained

Shoulders - Unilateral dumbbell overhead press1

Now, let’s dig deeper into the methods and techniques used in this workout. Building muscle at home can be a challenge, especially if you have limited weights and equipment.

But that’s okay because using these methods will make your workouts more intense and help you build muscle more effectively.

Extended Sets with Unilateral Reps

For the first exercises, standing dumbbell overhead press, you’re combining unilateral reps with ‘regular’ reps in one set. That essentially makes this an extended set. It also makes the exercise way more intense!

You’ll start right out of the gate with unilateral reps for your first 10 reps. Then you’ll immediately pump out 10 more reps with more arms, simultaneously.

  • First 10 reps = unilateral
  • Next 10 reps = both arms, simultaneously

Those unilateral sets make your shoulders work harder so by the time you get to your regular reps, your muscles will be pre-exhausted.

*If you’d like to learn more about unilateral workouts, check out my post: Unilateral Workout for Chest and Back At Home

Supersets for Arms

Chances are you’re already familiar with doing supersets. But there’s a little caveat to this particular workout.

Instead of going from, let’s say a bicep to another bicep exercise, you’re working the opposing muscle in the superset. This is called ‘agonist-antagonist sets.’

In this case, you’ll start with a tricep exercise. The reason for that is because your triceps make up the most of your arm mass. This method gives you that entire pump in your arms.

  • Tricep exercise
  • no rest!
  • Bicep exercise

Talk about a pump! Your arms will be pumped and jacked up-looking from all angles after doing these supersets.

*Here’s a workout you may also like to try for arms using supersets in this post: Arm Circuit Dumbbell Workout At Home with Supersets

Dumbbell Exercises for Shoulders and Arms Explained

Now, I’m going to give you a chest and back workout where you use unilateral sets with other non-unilateral exercises. This is more in line with a standard bodybuilding style workout.

Standing Dumbbell Press

  • Start in the standing position by pressing both dumbbells over your head
  • In a controlled manner, bring one dumbbell down while holding the other arm up in that steady position
  • Press the dumbbell back and repeat with the other arm
  • As instructed in the ‘methods’ section above, you’ll do this (unilateral reps) for 10 reps and then do 10 reps with the arms, simultaneously

Lateral Raises (Single-Arm)

  • Find something to brace your arm on, like the pole you see me holding on to (this is a column on the patio)
  • Hold the dumbbell with your other arm and raise it up
  • You don’t have to go too high (like many do); you want to keep the stress on the shoulder muscle, not your joints
  • When you release the dumbbell, bring it back down to the starting position slow, and controlled; this will work the muscle even harder
  • Once you do your set with the one arm, repeat with the other

Overhead Tricep Dumbbell Extensions

You’re doing 2 variations of overhead tricep extensions in this workout. The tips below apply to both variations.

  • You’ll start by hold the dumbbell(s) over your head
  • When you bring the dumbbell(s) down behind your head, make sure you keep the tension on your muscles (triceps)
  • As you press the dumbbell(s) back up, flex your triceps at the peak of the rep

Dumbbell Curls

Like the exercises for triceps, you’ll also be doing 2 variations of dumbbell curls. The first is hammer curls, which you’ll do these with both arms simutaneously.

The other type of curls will be with a regular grip, palms facing outward. And you’ll alternate each arm. The below tips apply to both variations of curls. .

  • Make sure you have a firm grip on the dumbbells before curling the weight up; this is going to help you contract your biceps harder, which will help build that muscle
  • Keeping your body as straight as possible (no swaying or jerking), curl the dumbbell(s) up
  • When you get to the ‘peak’ of each rep, flex your biceps hard
  • Release slowly, with a controlled motion; this forces your biceps to do more work, helping them grow

*If you’d like a full dumbbell workout for all muscle groups, check out my post: Muscle Building Workout At Home with Dumbbells

The Secret to Training Shoulders and Arms at Home

Well, there’s actually no ‘secret’ to training your shoulders and arms at home. But there are a few things you need to consider if you want your workouts to be effective, especially for these muscles.

  • You must force your muscles to do the work; don’t just go through the motions
  • Use strict form meaning don’t jerk or use momentum to lift the dumbbells
  • Flex your shoulders, triceps, and biceps at the top of each rep for the relevant muscle
  • Do not allow any distractions during your workouts; stay focused
  • Have a dedicated and cleared-out space for your workouts at home

In fact, you should apply these strategies to all of your workouts, in general. The reason I’m harping on these muscles is because it’s really easy to get caught up in just moving the weight from point A to B.

You have to stay focused throughout your workout and make every rep count. Especially when you’re training at home where it may be easier to get distracted.

I hope you give this workout a try. And feel free to share this post!

**Also, don’t forget to check out the pre-workout I’m taking called PREFIERCE.

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!