This dumbbell standing arm workout takes 10 minutes to build chiseled biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles

a photo of a man with strong biceps
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You don’t need push-ups or the bench press right now, just 10 minutes and a standing arm workout to sculpt the biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles. 

Grab a set of weights — we recommend light to medium — and schedule 10 minutes to pump your arms. Of course, building arm muscle definition requires more than just one workout (consistency and progressive overload principles are paramount), but this is a brilliant addition to your strength program.

The workout by Eleni Fit combines pulling and pushing moves to target the various muscle groups in your arms and shoulders. And if wrist-bearing exercises are off the table, forget them for the next 10 minutes because you’ll be standing up. 

Woman holding a dumbbell behind her head during a dumbbell arm workout

(Image credit: Getty images)

If you don’t have weights available, calisthenics is a popular type of bodyweight training that develops muscle and strength without lifting heavy weights. But even if you fill some spare water bottles or similar, this one is guaranteed to burn. 

As a guideline, Eleni uses two 4kg and two 2kg dumbbells, which is when the best adjustable dumbbells come in handy. 

This home workout has one goal — burn out your upper body and activate muscles in your chest and back. But body recomposition is an outcome of factors like body fat percentage, diet, and resistance training, so we also recommend learning how to calculate your body fat percentage and why it matters if your goal is building muscle definition. 

Watch Eleni Fit’s 10-minute standing arm workout with dumbbells

We encourage you not to lift with ego and aim for a lighter weight than you’d expect to use in the gym for these exercises. You’ll work for 45 seconds per arm exercise, transitioning into the next move without any rest — at all. 

Eleni uses some of the best ways to build muscle without lifting heavy weights, which we’ll cover below. Here’s an overview of the moves:

Check out the video to complete the 10-minute arm workout alongside Eleni. If you’re familiar with the exercises, this might matter less, but for beginners, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with each move. And there are lots of them. 

Eleni doesn’t just follow a standard on-off workout format. Instead, you’ll be moving without rest for 10 minutes using a mix of isolation and compound exercises, and combination moves that bring two exercises together. 

Isolation exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions target one muscle group, and compound exercises like presses, punches and upright rows target many, like the pectoral muscles, upper traps and shoulders. Putting two or three exercises together in flow creates a complex (you can find an example of a barbell complex here). In short, you get more bang for your buck in a short window of time. 

Woman against grey backdrop performing a bicep curl using a dumbbell with left arm

(Image credit: Shutterstock/ Jacob Lund)

Exercising this way during strength training utilizes a popular muscle-building technique called time under tension, where muscles stimulate for longer durations through a range of motion. Eleni also uses different planes of motion — lateral, frontal and rotational, so you can hit more muscle groups, including underused, weaker ones you might not target often. 

During the day, you move in various directions, using different muscle groups to do so, and exercising this way helps activate these muscle groups, building better balance, coordination and agility. 

Remember to keep your form tight with your shoulders pulled down and your chest tall, creating length through your spine and engaging your abs. During standing exercises, it’s easy to overarch your lower back, which can put tension on your spine. We recommend using a mirror to check in if you’re unsure.  


Maximize quality reps rather than quantity and try to hit a consistent range of reps for each exercise; 8-12 is a good guideline. The 10-minute arm workout taps into endurance training which typically means lifting lighter weights for higher reps and sets. High-rep workouts also fatigue the smaller arm muscles quickly, compared with larger, more powerful muscles like quads and glutes, so aim for a consistent pace. 

Moreover, some research suggests that bite-size workouts or “exercise snacks” (small bouts of exercise done frequently throughout the day) could be just as good for your health as “standard” workouts. So a 10-minute hit of arm-torching exercise sounds good to us.

Tom's Guide

Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.