June 4, 2023

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14-Day Dumbbell Arm Challenge to Build Biceps and Triceps Muscle

6 min read

OUT OF EVERY muscle group, your arms are likely the last one you’re neglecting in your workouts. Whether you’re training them directly with exercises such as the biceps curl or triceps extension, or indirectly with moves such as the pullup or pushup, odds are that you work your biceps, triceps, and myriad other arm muscles on the regular. After all, who doesn’t want to stretch their shirtsleeves?

Still, if your workout plan is typically composed of full-body splits or you structure your training sessions around movements that aim at the big muscle groups—think chest, back and legs—chances are you don’t often make your arms the star of the show as often as you might like.

This dumbbell challenge does just that, giving your arms center stage in your training plan for two consecutive weeks. You’ll target your biceps, triceps, and shoulders with two exercises a day for 14 days, making sure that your arms get a pump not only during every single workout, but also on what would otherwise be considered “off days” for most training plans.

If you do have a regular workout plan you want to stick to, you can still slot in this challenge at the end of each training session. Think of it as an extra-intense finisher. If you’re new to the gym, this can be your whole workout. And don’t worry—these sessions will never take you longer than 10 minutes to complete.

The 14-Day Dumbbell Arm Challenge Structure

In Week 1, you’ll perform reps of each of the two daily moves for 40 seconds at a time, alternating between them with 20 seconds of rest in between. Repeat those paired movements for five rounds.

In Week 2, perform each day’s moves as an “AMRAP+1” superset. Here’s what that entails: Begin with back-to-back sets of the two movements, performing the prescribed number of reps. Each time you repeat the superset, add a rep to each exercise. Continue for five rounds (that’s 10 minutes), completing as many rounds/supersets as possible and resting only as much as absolutely necessary (i.e., keep it minimal).

The key here (as always) is rep quality, not quantity. Chase good reps and squeezes, using medium-weight dumbbells. If you enjoy this challenge and are hungry for more, rest for two days after completing it, and then do it again, transforming it into a 30-day challenge.

You won’t see size gains in just 14 days—but don’t be surprised if you notice some growth as you approach the 30-day mark if you choose to double-up. Just as importantly, know that you’re building a mind-muscle connection that will set you up for long term success and consistent, eye-popping muscle growth.

The 14-Day Dumbbell Challenge Exercises

Half-Full Curl

Position yourself on the floor in a tall-kneeling position, holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides, palms facing in. Keeping your back flat, core engaged, and elbows by your sides, curl the dumbbells halfway up while rotating your palms upward. Pause, then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Immediately perform another curl rep, this time working through the full range of motion.


Close-Grip Pushup

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Assume a pushup position with your feet together, core engaged, spine straight from head to heels. Keep arms straight with your palms planted on the floor, keeping hands in line with (but slightly narrower than) your shoulders. Keeping your elbows tucked to your torso, lower your body until your chest is just short of the floor. Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.


Floor Lateral Raise

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Sit on the floor holding a pair of dumbbells with your legs extended in front of you. The dumbbells should be touching the floor and your arms should be angled slightly in front of your torso (about 20 to 30 degrees) in the scapular plane. Keeping your back flat and core engaged, raise the dumbbells to shoulder level, focusing on using your shoulders (not your traps) to drive the motion. Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.


Kneeling Halfway Pause Curl

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Kneel on the floor holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides, palms facing in. Keeping your back flat and core engaged, curl the dumbbells as far as you can toward your shoulders without moving your elbows. As you lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, pause briefly at the halfway point (i.e., when your elbows are bent 90 degrees).


Double Skull Crusher to Double JM Press

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Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, holding a pair of dumbbells above your shoulders with your arms straight and palms facing in. Keeping your core engaged and upper arms perpendicular to the floor, bend your elbows, lowering the dumbbells to the sides of your head. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Repeat one more time, and then perform two reps of the JM press, lowering your elbows to your ribs and the tops of the dumbbells to your shoulders before pressing back up. Continue alternating between two reps of each exercise.


Single-Arm Z Press

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Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you while holding a dumbbell in your right hand in the rack position (elbow bent and tucked by your side with the dumbbell at shoulder level, palm facing inward). Keeping your core engaged and back flat, press the dumbbell directly above your shoulder. (You can extend your right arm out to your side for balance if needed.) Pause, and then lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.


Floor Press

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Sit on the floor holding a pair of dumbbells, then roll back into a laying position on the floor, holding the dumbbells with your elbows on the floor at a 45 degree angle relative to your torso. Your knees should be bent, with your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your core engaged and your lower back flat on the floor, press the dumbbells up, squeezing your chest. Reverse the movement under control to return to the starting position.


Full Release Pushup

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Assume a high plank position with your arms straight, hands in line with and slightly wider than your shoulders, and body straight from head to heels. Keeping your core engaged, glutes tight, and elbows close to your body, lower your chest all of the way to the floor, and then lift your hands. Pause, and then place your hands back on the floor and press back up to the starting position.

The Men’s Health 14-Day Dumbbell Arm Challenge

WEEK 1

Perform the first movement for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat the second movement for 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds. Perform five total rounds (of each exercise).

DAY 1

  • Half-Full Curl
  • Close-Grip Pushup

DAY 2

  • Close-Grip Pushup
  • Floor Lateral Raise

DAY 3

  • Floor Lateral Raise
  • Kneeling Halfway Pause Curl

DAY 4

  • Kneeling Halfway Pause Curl
  • Double-Skullcrusher to Double-JM Press

DAY 5

  • Double-Skullcrusher to Double-JM Press
  • Single-Arm Z Press (20 seconds per side)

DAY 6

  • Single-Arm Z Press (20 seconds per side)
  • Close-Grip Pushup

DAY 7

  • Full Release Pushup (5 rounds of 40 seconds of continuous reps, 20 seconds of rest)

WEEK 2 (AMRAP +1 WEEK)

Perform each exercise for the reps as prescribed, resting for as little time as possible between each movement. For the next round, add one rep of each exercise. Continue this pattern until you finish five rounds.

DAY 1

  • Half-Full Curl, 8 reps
  • Close-Grip Pushup, 10 reps

DAY 2

  • Close-Grip Pushup, 10 reps
  • Floor Lateral Raise, 8 reps

DAY 3

  • Floor Lateral Raise, 8 reps
  • Kneeling Halfway Pause Curl, 8 reps

DAY 4

  • Kneeling Halfway Pause Curl, 8 reps
  • Floor Press, 10 reps

DAY 5

  • Floor Press, 10 reps
  • Single-Arm Z Press, 8 reps per side

DAY 6

  • Single-Arm Z Press, 8 reps per side
  • Close-Grip Pushup, 12 reps

DAY 7

  • Full Release Pushup, 30 total reps (rest as needed)
preview for Avoid These Arm Training Sins | Men’s Health Muscle
Headshot of Trevor Thieme C.S.C.S.

Trevor Thieme is a Los Angeles-based writer and strength coach, and a former fitness editor at Men’s Health. When not helping others get in shape, he splits his time between surfing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and trying to keep up with his seven year-old daughter.

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