Forget push-ups — this 10-minute dumbbell workout builds stronger biceps, triceps and shoulders

Man holding a dumbbell in right hand with elbow flexed during arm workout outdoors
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s no doubt that push-ups are one of the top bodyweight exercises you can do for your upper body. But you can strengthen your arms and shoulders without having to hit the floor using this 10-minute workout and a set of dumbbells. 

All you need for the standing workout is a set of dumbbells. Or better yet, a set of adjustable dumbbells that you can set to different weights for the various moves in the workout designed by YouTube fitness trainer FitByMik.

If you can only use one set of dumbbells, then Mikala suggests a medium set of 5-12lbs — for reference, she uses 8lbs weights herself. Given that you’ll be targeting the arms and shoulders with moves like raises and presses, it’s better to err on the side of lighter weights rather than risking them being too heavy to complete the sets.

The workout involves doing 10 exercises, working for 45 seconds and resting for 15 seconds before starting on the next move. All of the exercises are demonstrated by Mikala who also provides form tips and motivation throughout.

You can do the whole workout standing in one place, without needing to hit the floor or use a bench for moves like push-ups and the bench press, which makes it more accessible. You just need space to stand and a set of dumbbells, and away you go.

Watch Fitbymik’s 10-minute arms workout

10 min STANDING ARM WORKOUT | With Dumbbells | Biceps, Triceps and Shoulders | Zero Pushups - YouTube 10 min STANDING ARM WORKOUT | With Dumbbells | Biceps, Triceps and Shoulders | Zero Pushups - YouTube
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Although it’s a short workout you will definitely exhaust the target muscles effectively if you pick the right weights and move with control throughout each set, especially with moves like biceps curls.

Don’t rush and jeopardize good form, move slowly and engage the target muscles with each rep, and you’ll definitely feel the benefits in your upper arms and shoulders. And this will help you avoid injury, too. 

Speaking of shoulders, they are a part of the body that can be prone to injury, which is one big reason why it’s worth using light weights for moves like the lateral raise and overhead press, at least the first time you do the workout. It’s more important to complete reps with good form than it is to strain against heavier weights and mess up your technique.

The workout involves a mix of isolation and compound exercises, with the former being ideal for targeting the biceps and triceps in particular, while the compound moves work several muscle groups and joints at the same time.

This is quite a specific workout to target the arms and shoulders, so if you’re looking for a more general workout to build full-body strength, give this 10-minute standing dumbbell workout a go instead. You can also add FitByMik's routine to longer sessions, or combine it with a 10-minute core workout

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Nick Harris-fry
Senior Writer

Nick Harris-fry is an experienced health and fitness journalist, writing professionally since 2012. He spent nine years working on the Coach magazine and website before moving to the fitness team at Tom’s Guide in 2024. Nick is a keen runner and also the founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers, which specialises in reviewing running shoes, watches, headphones and other gear.

Nick ran his first marathon in 2016 after six weeks of training for a magazine feature and subsequently became obsessed with the sport. He now has PBs of 2hr 27min for the marathon and 15min 30sec for 5K, and has run 13 marathons in total, as well as a 50-mile ultramarathon.

He runs 50-80 miles a week and races regularly with his club, which gives him a lot of opportunity to test out running gear: he has tested and reviewed hundreds of pairs of running shoes, as well as fitness trackers, running watches, sports headphones, treadmills, and all manner of other kit. Nick is also a qualified Run Leader in the UK.