Information on how to run faster, lift stronger and think deeper

Can dumbbell squats build muscle [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 30, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Dumbbell training for beginners

Can dumbbells squats build muscle

This is an overview for beginners who might have questions about dumbbell training. You will find answers to common health questions and some ideas for training at home or in the gym.

Click for Instagram

Can dumbbell squats build Muscle

The short answer is no, your body will when it has enough food and stimulus. Dumbbell squats are a great alternative to barbell squats if you are not intending to go too heavy. Using dumbbells instead of a barbell will put less pressure on your spine. The center of mass will be around the hips and not on your shoulders. Having the barbell on your shoulder will alter the leverages of the squat. You will get less activation from the glutes. In return, you will get more out of dumbbell squats for grip strength while keeping your shoulders and spine healthier.
Building muscle is mainly a function of diet and how much you exercise. It correlates a lot less with exercise selection then some think. If your main concern is building muscle it might be good advice to pay more attention to your diet and the execution of each exercise, rather than which exercises you are picking. To build muscle it is often recommended that you eat six meals a day and preferably make these meals yourself to know what is going into them. This is a bigger change to your life than to decide to pick a barbell or a dumbbell once you made it into the gym. 

Can dumbbell cause hernia

A hernia is the result of an organ pushing through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Most hernia occur in the abdomen between your chest and hips, but they can also appear in other areas of the body. A Hernia is more often the result of pregnancy than lifting. It often goes unnoticed and only shows up in a routine check with a doctor. 
In lifting, hernias are usually the result of muscles in the belly area compared to the rest of the body. While the tissue can stretch and rip doing many exercises it is not uncommon to happen for lifters who excessively use a lifting belt and overload the barbell back squat. Sudden or overloaded movements with dumbbells can also be a cause, but it is less likely to get to a setup where you lift more than your abdominal muscles can take. A lifting belt compared with unracking the bar make it a lot more likely to overload and train in a weakness in your belly that leads to a hernia. 

What dumbbell workouts for triceps


Close grip dumbbell press

The close grip dumbbell bench press is a great exercise to do at home to get your triceps pumped up. Keep the dumbbells as close as possible together while performing a bench press motion. You want to stay in the 12 - 15 repetition rep range for this for three sets. 
You can also use a close grip for the barbell bench press to attack your triceps more. The closer your grip the more you will emphasize the tricep in the pressing motion. The wider the grip you choose the more you will activate the chest. A good mix between wide and close grip will help to get a fuller arm and chest. Add one or two sets to failure at the end of your work sets to your session. It will do great things for you. 

Standing french press

The standing french press is a classic bodybuilding movement from the golden age of bodybuilding. Bring the dumbbell to your shoulder and grip it with both hands overhead. Your two hands should form a triangle with your palms on which the dumbbell sits. Your fingers will wrap around the dumbbell on both sides for more stability. Once you reach the starting position lower the dumbbell behind your head and complete 3 - 4 sets at 12 - 15 repetitions.
You can also do this exercise while lying on a bench. This way the focus of the exercise will shift from the triceps and go more into your chest. Arnold was a big fan of these back in his golden bodybuilding days.  

Bi-Lateral Kickbacks

Bi lateral kickbacks are a great exercise to form parts of the triceps you will otherwise miss. They are a little awkward to perform as you are in a relatively unstable position. Therefore start with lower weights to master the exercise. Remember building bigger triceps is not about maximum weight, but the pump.


Skullcrushers are my personal favorite accessory exercise to bring up my bench press. You can also perform them with a barbell, which will let you use more weight. The trade-off is that barbell skull crushers put greater torque on your wrists and triceps. To do dumbbell skullcrushers extend the arms fully with dumbbells in hand. From there break at the elbows to bring the dumbbells towards your head. Keep the upper arm straight so that the power comes from the triceps and not from the chest muscles. If you are not doing skull crushers yet, they will work wonders for your bench press and triceps size. 

What dumbbell exercise is good for chest

All of the exercises below are good for building a bigger chest with dumbbells at home. My personal favorite for the chest with dumbbells is the chest flye. This is an exercise that is hard to do with a barbell and brings pump to the right areas in your chest. 

Chest Flyes

Chest Flyes start in the same position as a regular bench press. Instead of moving the dumbbells up and down in a straight line you will spread your arms. Keep your elbows at a slight angle to avoid too much torque by keeping them straight. Go as low as you comfortably can before going back to the starting position. This is an exercise you want to start light and feel into as otherwise, you might hurt your shoulder. 

Bridge Press

The bridge press is a variation on the flat dumbbell floor press. Squeeze your glutes so that your butt comes off the floor. This will stabilize your upper body and allow you to press more weight. By keeping the bridge you will also activate your core and glutes. In powerlifting, it is not allowed to have your butt off the bench. However, if your main goal is muscle growth, this is irrelevant. 

Renegade rows

Renegade rows start with the dumbbells on the floor and you in a push-up position. From there you row the dumbbells up to your chest alternatively. This is a great exercise for balance, core strength and developing your back and chest. Rows are often forgotten in bodybuilding and exercise regimes. Aim to have as many rowing as pressing motions in your sessions to keep muscular balance in the long run. I did not and it hurt my performance.  

Floor Presses

Floor presses are the same as bridge presses except that you keep your butt on the floor. Take care that you control the dumbbells on the way down. You don't want your elbows to smash into the floor. 

Which dumbbell exercise is best for biceps

There is nothing more refreshing than a bro doing his curls looking at the mirror. This is pure bliss of all different stereotypes about training coming together. Still, good arms look nice and also help you to pull more weight. Here is a routine to make your biceps blow up.

Zottmann curl

The Zottman curl starts like the basic curl. You go up fast and then turn your wrist at the top so the palms face to the floor while holding onto the dumbbell. You then slowly and controlled bring the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat. This is exercise is less about the weight and more about the execution to get maximum burn.

Basic curl

Everyone knows the basic curl so I won't go into too much detail. A good approach for the basic curl and also the tricep extension is to go very low in weight and do 3 sets of up to 60 repetitions. If I do those I Usually do them at the end of a session to fry my arms.

Tricep kickback

The tricep kickback with a hold trains the triceps as well as the biceps. The good thing about this exercise is the static hold which brings a different stimulus to your muscles then curls do.
Basic curl with negative

Tricep push down

A classic movement at the cable tower. There are debates on how to stand whether you should activate your entire body. I solve by two heavy sets with my full weight behind them and a finisher with a small weight up to 60 reps. 

Topics: Dumbbell