I tried this 15-minute dumbbell workout with over 5 million views — here's what happened

a photo of a man doing bicep curls at home
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I’ll caveat this article by pointing out that, as a runner, arms are very much a neglected part of my workout routine. I’ll spend hours working on building my glute strength to help me power through the final miles of a marathon (here’s how to build your glutes without weights), and my core strength to help me retain a good posture as I run, but my arms have never been much of a focus. 

That said, since quitting the gym during the pandemic, I’ve been keen to mix up my home workouts, and when I saw Fraser Wilson’s 15-minute arm workout had been viewed over five million times, I was keen to find out more. The only equipment needed is a pair of dumbbells — Fraser is using a pair of adjustable dumbbells for the workout, which is a great way to avoid having to spend lots of money on a whole weight rack. We’ve found the best adjustable dumbbells for weightlifting at home here. 

Can you really get a good arm workout in just 15-minutes? Read on to find out.

What is the 15-minute dumbbell arm workout? 

The workout consists of 14 different exercises, with a 30-second rest between each one. As you’re only working for 30 seconds, it’s a good idea to try a challenging weight, that makes the final few reps feel exhausting. I don’t have any adjustable dumbbells, so for the first couple of exercises, I used a pair of 3kg (6.6 pounds) dumbbells, but moved up to 5kg (11 pounds) dumbbells for more of a workout. 

That said, if you’re a beginner, you’re completely new to arm workouts, or you’re returning to exercise from an injury, it’s a good idea to start with a lighter weight. All of the exercises should be done with complete control, and at no point should you be swinging your arm and using the momentum to help you lift the weight. 

In the video description, Fraser writes, “this workout is perfect to grow your biceps, forearms and triceps” as the exercises hit all of the major muscle groups in the arms. The full-length video allows you to follow along with Fraser to watch his form, and as he doesn’t speak, you can mute the video and play your own music. You can also pause and take longer breaks should you need. 

Here are some of the exercises included in the workout: 

Dumbbell curls: To do a dumbbell curl, start with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbows tucked into your body and your palms facing forwards, away from your body. Curl the weights up to shoulder height, contracting your biceps as you do so.

Dumbbell drag curls: Another exercise that’s great at targeting the biceps, start in the same position as you did for the dumbbell curls. Instead of raising the weights to your shoulders, think about dragging your elbows back behind your body to move the weights upward. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, before slowly lowering the weights to your starting position.  

Overhead extension: You’ll do 30 seconds of this on each side. Holding one dumbbell in your hand, raise the weight above your head and lower it back behind you, before extending your elbow back to your starting position. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement. 

Diamond push-up: For a diamond push-up, make a diamond shape with your hands in the push-up position, with your thumbs and forefingers on each hand touching. Diamond push-ups target the triceps more than regular push-ups. Read more on how to do a push-up and the different variations to try here.  

I tried the 15-minute dumbbell arm workout — here’s what happened 

I definitely burned my arm muscles and the next day it was a struggle to lift my laptop, let alone a dumbbell.

A lot of the exercises in Fraser’s workout were new to me, which I enjoyed — these aren’t your normal up-down planks or overhead presses. The exercises really worked areas of my arms I’ve clearly been neglecting, as it didn’t take long at all for my arms to start to burn, and my mind to start to wonder how I’d wash the hair mask out of my hair. 

That said, I definitely did the right thing by increasing my weight for more of a challenge — compared to most HIIT workouts, 30 seconds isn’t that long, so it’s a good idea to go heavier to really work your arms. I was impressed by how easy this workout would be to modify for all levels, however, simply by increasing the weight or increasing the time spent working. 

I managed to get through all of the exercises (with my knees on the ground for the press-ups because, come on, who am I kidding?) and felt that in just 15-minutes, I’d definitely burnt into my arm muscles and the next day it was a struggle to lift my laptop, let alone a dumbbell. While I won’t be following Fraser’s recommendation to repeat this two or three times a week (my arms can’t take it), if you’re looking for a quick arm pump on your lunch break, I’ve found it. Who knows, maybe I’ll have serious guns by summer? 

Looking for more workout inspiration? Check out this full body dumbbell workout that builds strength with just six exercises. Here’s what happened when I tried Daisy Keech’s hourglass workout, plus the best arm exercises to do using just a resistance band

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.