Dumbbell exercises for skinny guys

36 Awesome Dumbbell Exercises For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle

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Are you wondering what exactly can be done with a pair of dumbbells? Then look no further. Because today, I will be sharing 36 of my favourite dumbbell exercises for skinny guys.

Dumbbells are an extremely versatile type of free weight. They can be used to perform a variety of movements which target all muscle groups in the body including the arms, chest, shoulders, abdominals, back, and legs. This makes them a cheap and effective method to build muscle.

I’m a big fan of dumbbells. In fact, they helped me to personally gain 40 pounds of lean muscle as an ex-skinny guy.

And I know you can do the same.

So let’s jump right in!

I gained 40 pounds of lean muscle with the help of dumbbells. Download my free blueprint at the end!

The Best Dumbbell Exercises For Skinny Guys

The best dumbbell exercises for skinny guys to build muscle are those which engage all the muscles in your body through compound or isolation movements. When you train all muscles in the body, you will develop balanced musculature and a powerful X-shaped physique.

dumbbells can be used to build muscle

A compound movement refers to any lift which engages multiple muscle groups through multiple joints. These exercises are good to develop general strength and muscle mass.

In contrast, isolation movements refer to lifts which concentrate on single muscles across a single joint. And these exercises are an awesome way to develop volume in specific muscles.

When you perform a combination of compound and isolation lifts that target all of your muscles, you will get bigger and also gain muscle definition!

A simple pair of dumbbells are more than adequate to achieve this goal.

So here are the best dumbbell exercises to build muscle if you’re a skinny guy.

I have categorised the exercises into their respective muscle groups.

Dumbbell Exercises For The Arms.

Dumbbells can be used to train all the muscles in the arms. These include the biceps brachii, brachiallis, brachioradialis, and triceps. When you develop all of these muscles, you’re upper arms will become larger, and your forearms will become thicker.

Dumbbell exercises to target the arm muscles

Here are 6 dumbbell exercises to get bigger arms!

1. Underhand Bicep Curl.

Bicep Curls — (DUMBBELL FORM & TECHNIQUE)

How To Do It:

  1. Stand or sit on a bench, holding a pair of dumbbells on either side.
  2. Brace your body to prevent it from swinging, and keep the upper arms parallel with your torso.
  3. Curl the dumbbells upwards with an underhand-grip, stoping the motion when the dumbbells reach your shoulders.
  4. Lower the dumbbells and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The underhand bicep curl is an isolation exercise which will work all three of your bicep muscles (bicepps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis). By using an underhand grip, you’ll emphasise the biceps brachii, which contributes to the main “bicep bulge”.

2. Overhand Bicep Curl.

Overhand Biceps Curls

How To Do It:

  1. Hold the dumbbells on either side of your body.
  2. Engage your core and make a slight bend at the knees to brace your body.
  3. Curl the dumbbells up with an overhand-grip, stopping the movement once the dumbbells reach your shoulders.
  4. Lower the dumbbells and repeat.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The overhand bicep curl is a great alternative to the traditional underhand bicep curl. Just like the underhand variation, the overhand curl engages all 3 of your bicep muscles. But emphasis shifts to the brachioradialis, which will thicken your forearms.

3. Hammer Curl.

How To: Dumbbell Hammer Curl

How To Do It:

  1. Stand or sit on a bench with dumbbells by your side.
  2. Brace your core to prevent body-swinging, and keep the upper arms parallel to your torso.
  3. Curl the dumbbells up with a neutral-grip (palms facing towards each other).
  4. Lower the dumbbells and repeat.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The hammer curl is a hybrid of the over and underhand bicep curl. And just like it’s parents, it will work all the individual bicep muscles. But the hammer curl emphasises the brachioradialis and the outer region of the biceps brachii. This will help you develop volume in the outer arm and forearm!

4. Overhead Tricep Extension.

Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension

How To Do It:

  1. Hold a single dumbbell above the head by forming a diamond shape with your thumb and index finger, supporting the dumbbell on the flat of your palms.
  2. Keep your elbows tucked inwards and lower the dumbbell behind the head.
  3. Extend the dumbbell upwards once it reaches the small of your upper neck.
  4. Lower the dumbbell and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The tricep extension is an isolation-type exercise which concentrates tension directly onto the triceps. These are the largest muscles in your upper arm, making the tricep extension an essential exercise to grow your arms! Strengthening your triceps will also help you lift heavier on the compound pressing movements (more on those later).

5. Tricep Kickback.

Build the Biggest part of your Arm: Tricep Kickbacks 2/3rds of your arms size!

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with a pair of dumbbells held using a neutral-grip, on either side of your body.
  2. Bend at the hips to angle your torso 45° to the floor.
  3. Bring your upper arms backwards and keep them in this position.
  4. Extend both forearms backwards through the elbow joint.
  5. Flex the forearms to bring the dumbbells back down.
  6. Repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The tricep kickback is another way to work the triceps. Although it won’t allow you to lift as much weight as the overhead tricep extension, many people find it much easier to perform. Both exercises are great tricep-builders, so find the one you’re most comfortable with!

6. Close-Grip Dumbbell Floor Press.

Dumbbell Close-Grip Floor Press -HERE'S HOW! THE RIGHT WAY!

How To Do It:

  1. Lay on the floor and hold a pair of dumbbells vertically along your chest, using a neutral-grip.
  2. Extend your arms to press both dumbbells upwards (keeping the dumbbells together).
  3. Lower the dumbbells and repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The close-grip dumbbell floor press is an awesome compound movement. Not only will it engage your triceps, but also your front shoulders and chest. It’ll also help you improve general pressing strength, and this will benefit other exercises such as the bench press. Therefore the close-grip floor press is great exercise to build upper-body mass.

Dumbbell Exercises For The Chest.

Dumbbells can be used to perform a variety of press and fly movements. These movements will engage all the muscles in your chest, including the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and anterior deltoids. By developing these three muscles, you will gain volume and definition in the chest muscles.

Dumbbell exercises to train the chest muscles

Here are 6 dumbbell exercises to get a wide and voluptuous chest!

Or check out my other article for more tips to use dumbbells for a bigger chest!

7. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press.

The ONLY Way You Should Be Doing Flat Dumbbell Bench Press!

How To Do It:

  1. Lay flat on a bench with a pair of dumbbells sat on your upper thighs.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up with your legs and stabilise them in the air.
  3. Use a shoulder-width overhand grip to press the dumbbells upwards, whilst squeezing the pectorals together.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to chest-level and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The flat bench press is commonly regarded as the king of chest-builders (engaging the pec major, pec minor, and anterior deltoids), and it should be a focal exercise if you’re a skinny guy looking to build a killer chest. Using a bench is highly recommended to get a full range of motion. But if you don’t have one, you can also do dumbbell floor presses.

8. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press.

How To: Dumbbell Incline Press | 3 GOLDEN RULES (MADE BETTER!)

How To Do It:

  1. Lay on a 30° incline bench with a pair of dumbbells on your upper thighs.
  2. Kick both dumbbells up and stabilise them in the air.
  3. Using a shoulder-width overhand grip, press both dumbbells upwards, squeezing them together as they reach the top.
  4. Lower the dumbbells to chest level and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The incline bench press is the cousin of the flat bench press. It will work the same chest muscles, but emphasis shifts to your upper pectorals. This will help define your upper chest, which is hard to achieve with just the flat bench press alone.

9. Decline Floor Press.

Bridge Dumbbell Press

How To Do It:

  1. Lay flat on the floor with a pair of dumbbells held close to the chest.
  2. Raise your hips and arch your back upwards so your torso is around 45° from the floor.
  3. Press the dumbbells upwards with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  4. Lower the dumbbells to the chest-line and repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

As with all bench press variations, the decline floor press is a great way to engage all the chest muscles. However, the decline bench press in particular will facilitate in chiselling the lower pecs. Additionally, the decline angle helps you bench a heavier weight. And this makes it the perfect bench press variation for skinny guys to build lifting confidence!

10. Flat Chest Fly.

How To Do It:

  1. Lay on a flat bench with a pair of dumbbells resting on your thighs.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up with your legs and stabilise them in the air with a neutral grip.
  3. Lower the dumbbells to either side by using a downward arcing motion.
  4. Arc the dumbbells back up once your upper arms reach chest-level.
  5. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The dumbbell flat chest fly is an isolation-type exercise which specifically targets the pectorals. Unlike the bench press, the fly is particularly effective at engaging the inner chest. And this will help you define a cleft in between your pecs! If you don’t have a bench, you can do the floor fly instead.

11. Dumbbell Cross Over.

Dumbbell Crossover Front Raise

How To Do It:

  1. Stand and hold a a pair of dumbbells on either side.
  2. Bring one dumbbell up towards your opposite shoulder in an upward arcing motion.
  3. Lower the dumbbell once it comes in line with your opposite shoulder.
  4. Repeat with the the other dumbbell.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The dumbbell crossover is a variation of the flat chest fly. But instead of engaging your mid pecs, emphasis shifts to your upper pecs. This makes the crossover a great exercise for developing a pectoral cleft that extends through your mid chest, and into the upper chest!

12. Dumbbell Pullover.

DUMBBELL PULLOVER FOR CHEST

How To Do It:

  1. Prop your upper back on a bench or a chair and plant your feet on the ground.
  2. Hold a single dumbbell by forming a diamond-shape with your index fingers and thumbs, resting the dumbbell on the flat of your palms.
  3. Lower the dumbbell behind your head in a downward arcing motion.
  4. Raise the dumbbell back up once it goes below the head-line.
  5. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The dumbbell pullover is a compound-type lift which not only works the pectorals, but also the latissimus dorsi on your back, and the the triceps on your arms. This makes it a great exercise if you’re a skinny guy looking to build a V-tapered upper body!

Find out how you can get a V-tapered body in my other article!

Dumbbell Exercises For The Shoulders.

Dumbbells can be used to to execute pressing and flying movements which can target all the muscles in the shoulders, including the anterior deltoids, medial deltoids, and posterior deltoids. Training these three muscle will help you develop broader shoulders and a v-shaped taper.

Dumbbell training for the shoulder muscles

Here are 6 dumbbell exercises for you to get broader shoulders!

Read my other article to find out the pro’s and con’s of dumbbell training!

13. Standing Overhead Press.

Jay Cutler's Training Tips: Dumbbell Shoulder Press Technique

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with a pair of dumbbells on either side of your body.
  2. Prop both dumbbells up at shoulder-level, using an overhand grip.
  3. Press both dumbbells vertically upwards.
  4. Lower the dumbbells just before your elbows become fully extended.
  5. Repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The overhead press is a compound-type lift, and arguably the king of shoulder exercises. It will primarily activate the anterior deltoids, lateral deltoids, and triceps. But the upper pecs and posterior deltoids are also engaged as stabilising muscles. This exercise will help you fill out your t-shirt and develop a v-shaped body!

14. Hammer-Grip Shoulder Press.

Seated Dumbbell Hammer Grip Shoulder Press

How To Do It:

  1. Assume the traditional overhead press position, with a pair of dumbbells at shoulder-level and held using a neutral-grip.
  2. Bring your arms closer to your torso midline to form a narrow pressing position.
  3. Press both dumbbells upwards and stop just before the elbows become fully extended.
  4. Lower the dumbbells and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The hammer-grip shoulder press is an awesome beginner-friendly alternative to the traditional overhead press. The neutral-grip relieves pressure from the shoulder joint, and this helps skinny beginners shoulder press more comfortably. However, the neutral grip also shifts tension away from the medial deltoids and more towards the anterior deltoids. Therefore I reccomened you to transition to the traditional overhead press as soon as you can, to facilitate overall shoulder development.

15. Dumbbell Lateral Raise.

How to Do Side Lateral Raises (with PERFECT FORM)

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with a pair of dumbbells on either side of your legs.
  2. Simultaneously raise both dumbbells in an outward arcing motion, away from the torso.
  3. Lower the dumbbells once they reach a shoulder-level height.
  4. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The lateral raise is an isolation-type lift, and one of few exercises which can directly target the medial deltoids (unlike the overhead press which emphasises more of the anterior deltoids). This makes the lateral raise an essential exercise to develop the sides of your shoulders.

16. Dumbbell Front Raise.

Dumbbell Front Raise

How To Do It:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells on both sides of your torso with a neutral-grip.
  2. Raise both dumbbells upwards and to your front, keeping your arms straight.
  3. Lower both dumbbells when they approach shoulder-level.
  4. Repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The front raise is an isolation-type exercise which mainly works the anterior deltoids (but the medial deltoids are also engaged to a lesser degree). Developing anterior deltoid strength will benefit all your other pressing exercises, since the anterior deltoids are usually either the primary movers or act as stabilisers in these types of exercises.

17. External Rotation With Dumbbells.

Shoulder External Rotation, Half-Kneeling, Elbow Supported, Dumbbell

How To Do It:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells with your elbows a a 90° angle (dumbbells below the shoulder-line).
  2. Both arms should form an L-shape pointing towards the floor.
  3. Lift both dumbbells upwards by rotating the upper arm, arcing the dumbbells above the shoulder-line.
  4. Rotate your upper arms to lower the dumbbell back down.
  5. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

External rotations train your rotator cuffs. Although these muscles don’t provide significant aesthetic benefits, they WILL strengthen your shoulder joints. And this allows you to lift heavier on exercises such as the pull up and overhead press. These are mass-building exercises, and usually uncomfortable for skinny beginners with weak shoulder joints.

18. Dumbbell High Pull.

Dumbbell High Pull

How To Do It:

  1. Stand and hold a pair of dumbbells in front of you, using an overhand-grip.
  2. Pull both dumbbells vertically upwards.
  3. Stop when the dumbbells reach your nipple-line.
  4. Lower the dumbbells and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guys:

High pulls are a great compound shoulder exercise which also works the upper back. It engages all 3 deltoids, as well as the rhomboids (which can be difficult to isolate). High pulls are an awesome compound variation to the overhead press, and they can be used to keep your training programme interesting.

Dumbbell Exercises For The Abs.

Dumbbells can be used to add resistance to bodyweight exercises that target the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques. By adding resistance with dumbbells, you can gain muscle mass in your abs more effectively, compared to using bodyweight alone.

Dumbbells can be used to isolate the abdominal muscles

Here are 6 ways to use dumbbells to build shredded abs!

19. Dumbbell-Weighted Crunch.

How To Do: Dumbbell Crunch - Floor | Ab Workout Exercise

How To Do It:

  1. Lay on the floor and hold a dumbbell to your chest.
  2. Simultaneously bring your legs and shoulders towards your body’s midline
  3. Lower your legs and shoulders.
  4. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The weighted-crunch is a simple exercise which engages all your core muscles, including the abs and lower back. Not only will this help you to develop ab definition, but a more stable lower back can also benefit the other major compound exercises such as the deadlift and bent-over row.

20. Dumbbell Side-Bend.

Dumbbell Side bend

How To Do It:

  1. Stand and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lower one dumbbell by bending your torso at the hips.
  3. Revert to the standing position once your torso reaches it’s maximum range of motion.
  4. Repeat for the other side.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The side-bend is a highly effective exercise to isolate your external and internal obliques. When these abdominal muscles become defined, you will get the coveted “wings” which radiate from the side of the abs. Strong obliques will also strengthen your core, and help stabilise many of the other compound lifts.

21. Leg Raise.

Hanging leg raise with 10kg dumbbell !

How To Do It:

  1. Prop yourself up on a power tower or hang from a pull-up bar.
  2. Use your legs to clasp a dumbbell firmly between the thighs or calves.
  3. Raise the dumbbell upwards by bringing your knees towards the torso midline.
  4. Lower the dumbbell and repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

Lower ab musculature is notoriously difficult to achieve. And there are only a handful of exercises which directly target the lower region of your abdominals. But the leg raise is one of the most effective!

22. Dumbbell V-Up.

V-Sit Crunch: Correct

How To Do It:

  1. Lie flat on the ground and use your feet to clasp a dumbbell by it’s handle.
  2. Simultaneously bring the feet and hands together, meeting above abs.
  3. Lower the arms and feet after they touch above your abs.
  4. Repeat for sets.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The weighted V-up is a good alternative to the leg raise, since the lower-body movement of this exercise replicates the same movement as the leg raise. And this makes it great to target the lower abs without the need for a power tower or pull up bar!

23. Kneeling Wood Chop.

Half Kneeling DB Low to High Chop

How To Do It:

  1. Grab a dumbbell with both hands.
  2. Take one knee to the ground and plant your other foot forward.
  3. Swing the dumbbell upwards and towards the shoulder of your opposite side.
  4. Bring the dumbbell back down and repeat for reps.
  5. Do the same for both sides.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The dumbbell woodchop will engage all your abdominal muscles (including the lower abs) in a single upward-twisting motion. This makes it a great way to train your abs when you’re short on time!

24. Dumbbell Russian Twist.

Dumbbell Russian Twist

How To Do It:

  1. Sit on the floor, plant both feet on the ground, and use both hands to hold either end of the dumbbell.
  2. Lean backwards and hold the dumbbell in front of your chest using straight arms.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, bring the dumbbell to your side by rotating your torso.
  4. Bring the dumbbell back to the centreline and repeat for the other side.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The Russian twist replicates the motion of a cable core twist, an exercise which can help shred your obliques. This will add much desired definition to your abdominal region!

Dumbbell Exercises For The Back.

Dumbbells can be used to perform a variety of rowing, pulling, and flying movements which will activate all the back muscles. These include the rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae. Developing these muscles will help you build a thicker and broader back.

dumbbell exercises for the back muscles

Here are 6 dumbbell exercises for you to build a killer back!

25. Overhand Bent-Over Row.

Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with a slight bend in the knees and your back angled 45° to the floor.
  2. Grab two dumbbells with each hand and hold them by your knees using an overhand-grip.
  3. Pull both dumbbells towards your belly button and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  4. Lower the dumbbells and repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The bent over-row is to the back, what the bench press is for the chest. In other words, it’s an awesome back-builder and should be a focal exercise in your dumbbell training programme. Not only does the row activate all the back muscles, but it also works the biceps at the same time!

26. Underhand Bent-Over Row.

Underhand Dumbbell Row

How To Do It:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells using an underhand-grip, one in each hand.
  2. Bend your knees and angle your back 45° to the floor.
  3. Pull the dumbbells towards your belly button.
  4. Lower the dumbbells when they reach your abdomen.
  5. Repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The underhand bent-over row is very similar to the overhand bent-over row. But changing the grip from overhand to underhand will make it easier for beginners to master the exercise. Additionally, an underhand grip will add more emphasis to your biceps!

27. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row.

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

How To Do It:

  1. Grab a single dumbbell with one hand, using a neutral-grip.
  2. Bend the knees slightly and angle your torso 45° to the ground.
  3. Plant your free-hand and knee onto a bench or chair for stabilisation (optional)
  4. Pull the dumbbell towards your shoulder.
  5. Lower the dumbbell once it reaches the shoulder.
  6. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The single-arm dumbbell row is not much different to the traditional bent-over row. But this is a unilateral (one-sided) variation of the bent-over row. And this makes it great to correct any back muscle imbalances, which occur naturally in both skinny beginners and advanced lifters.

28. Dumbbell T-Bar Row.

Dumbbell Closegrip Row

How To Do It:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells with both hands, using a neutral grip (holding the dumbbells tightly together).
  2. Bend your knees and angle your back 45° to the floor.
  3. Pull both dumbbells towards the centre of your chest.
  4. Lower the dumbbells after they touch your chest.
  5. Repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

T-bar rows will engage all your back muscles and biceps, just like all the rowing movements. But the narrow grip of the T-bar row will shift muscle engagement towards the latissimus dorsi and and trapezius!

29. Reverse Fly.

How to: Dumbbell Reverse Fly

How To Do It:

  1. Grab two dumbbells with a neutral-grip.
  2. Bend your knees and angle your torso parallel to the ground (stick out your buttocks to help you counterbalance).
  3. Raise both dumbbells by arcing both arms outwards and upwards.
  4. Lower the dumbbells after you reach the maximum range of motion.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The reverse fly is the back-equivalent to the chest fly. It’s an isolation type exercise which engages the rhomboids in the middle of your back. The rhomboids can be difficult to isolate. So the reverse fly is an excellent solution to this! This will help you develop a thicker middle back.

30. Dumbbell Shrugs.

How To Do It:

  1. Hold two dumbbells on either side of your body.
  2. Raise both of your shoulders upwards and backwards in a shrugging motion.
  3. Lower both dumbbells when you reach your maximum range of motion.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The dumbbell shrug is another isolation-type exercise. And it can be used to target a lagging trapezius (top of the back). Additionally, dumbbell shrugs will help you develop the much-coveted “neck flare”, where pronounced traps can be seen from the front of your body.

Dumbbell Exercises For The Legs.

Squats, deadlifts, lunges, and their variations can be performed with dumbbells. This will engage all of the muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and gastrocnemius. Developing these muscles will produce thick legs which contribute to a powerful X-shaped physique.

dumbbell exercises for the leg muscles

Here are 6 dumbbell exercises for you to get more muscular legs!

Or check out my other article for even more ways to squat!

31. Goblet Squat.

The Goblet Squat Exercise Guide - The Proper Form, Sets & Routine Tutorial

How To Do It:

  1. Clasp a single dumbbell with both hands, using the palms of both hands to support the dumbbell.
  2. Tuck your elbows close towards your torso.
  3. Lower your body by bending the knees and pushing your hips back.
  4. Stop when the hips go below the knees.
  5. Drive upwards whilst extending your hips.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The goblet squat is essential for any dumbbell workout. Squats are powerful leg-builders, engaging all of your lower body muscles. But they can be hard to perform without a barbell. The goblet squat is the perfect beginner-friendly way to squat using a dumbbell!

32. Pistol Squat.

Dumbbell goblet alternating pistol squat to bench

How To Do It:

  1. Hold a dumbbell tight to the chest.
  2. Lift one leg off the floor, and use the standing leg to lower your body towards the floor.
  3. Drive back up when you have reached your maximum range of motion (this will vary between experience levels, so don’t be embarrassed about doing half-pistol squats!).
  4. Repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

Goblet squats are great. But you are severely limited in progression, since a dumbbell can only weigh so much. This is where pistol squats shine. It’s a unilateral exercise, and it’s much more challenging to squat on a single leg, compared to squatting with both legs. This makes the dumbbell-weighted pistol squat an awesome way to progress from the goblet squat!

33. Dumbbell Deadlift.

Dumbbell Deadlift Technique – Perfect Form Video Tutorial Guide

How To Do It:

  1. Place two dumbbells on the floor, handles running inline with each other.
  2. Lower yourself to grab the dumbbells by bending your knees, pushing your hips back, and keeping your back 45° to the ground.
  3. Use an overhand grip to grab both dumbbells.
  4. Lift the dumbbells from the ground by extending your knees, keeping your back straight, and thrusting your hips forward.
  5. Lower the dumbbells and repeat for repetitions.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The deadlift is the king of compound exercises, and NEEDS to be in every skinny guy’s muscle-building arsenal. In one movement, the deadlift will engage all the muscles in in your lower body, back, core, and shoulders. This makes the dumbbell deadlift a potent muscle-building exercise.

34. Nordic Ham Curl With Dumbbells.

Tyreek Hill 10 Nordic Hamstring Curls TOUGH | Kansas City Chiefs!!

How To Do It:

  1. Kneel onto the ground.
  2. Secure your feet by hooking your heels to a loaded-barbell, bench, or having a training partner hold them.
  3. Slowly lower your torso towards the ground in a downward arcing motion.
  4. Bring your torso back when your torso goes just past 45° to the ground.
  5. Repeat for reps.
  6. Hold a light dumbbell against your chest once you have mastered your own bodyweight.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

The Nordic ham curl is an effective isolation-type exercise to target the hamstrings. It’s a tough exercise, so only add dumbbells once you can curl your own bodyweight. But the hard work will be worth it. Bigger hamstrings will help you turn skinny legs into thick muscular legs!

35. Dumbbell Lunge.

Dumbbell Lunges - Thighs Exercise

How To Do It:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells on either side of your body.
  2. Take a wide step forward with a leading foot and plant it securely onto the ground, keeping most of your weight on the leading foot.
  3. Lower the body downwards and forwards by bending the leading knee, until the rear knee reaches just above the ground.
  4. Drive upwards and backwards with the leading leg.
  5. Switch stances to repeat the movement with the other leg.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

In my opinion, the dumbbell lunge is an underrated compound exercise. It will engage all your leg muscles, with particular emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes (muscles which can be hard to isolate with dumbbells). To develop your hamstrings, I reccomened alternating between nordic ham curls and dumbbell lunges. And doing this in combination with squats and deadlifts will turn skinny legs into elephant legs!

36. Dumbbell Calf-Raise

Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

How To Do It:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells on either side of your body.
  2. Stand on the ledge of a low-standing platform (e.g. a stack of barbell plates), with the heels hanging off the edge.
  3. Raise your body by going on your tiptoes.
  4. Lower yourself back down.
  5. Repeat for reps.

Why It’s Great For Skinny Guy’s:

Dumbbell calf-raises are one of my favourite alternatives to train the lower leg when a calf-raise machine is unavailable. It’s the only isolation-type exercise for the gastrocnemius, so I highly reccomened you to include them in your dumbbell programme. By combining calf raises with the other compound leg exercises, you will sort those skinny legs out in no time!

Dumbbell Exercise FAQ’s

Here are some common questions about dumbbell training.

“What Are Dumbbell Exercises Good For?”

Dumbbell exercises are a popular form of resistance training, and different exercises can be performed to target all muscle groups in your body. To gain muscle and develop strength with dumbbells, you should stay within 6 to 12 repetitions per set, for each exercise.

“Can You Build Muscle With Dumbbells Only?”

Building muscle requires resistance training combined with a caloric surplus diet, making dumbbells suitable for building muscle. Dumbbells are also extremely versatile and they can be used to target every muscle in the body. But you should choose dumbbells which are heavy enough for your goals.

“How Heavy Should Dumbbells Be To Gain Muscle?”

Dumbbell weight should be chosen according to your training level. A pair of 55 pound dumbbells weighing 110 pounds in total will be suitable for a skinny beginner to gain up to 20 to 30+ pounds of muscle in 1 to 3 years, depending on training frequency and commitment.

After this period, you may want to upgrade dumbbell weight or invest in a barbell.

Training LevelReccomened Dumbbell Weight-RangeEstimated Rate Of Muscle-Gain
Beginner (1 to 12 months casual training)2.5 to 55 pounds per dumbbell.2 to 3 pounds per month.
Intermediate (1 to 4 years training)7.5 to 70 pounds per dumbbell.1 to 2 pounds per month.
Advanced (5+ years training)10 to 90 pounds per dumbbell.0 to .25 pound per month.
Estimated rate of muscle-gain according to training level and dumbbell weight.

You should also buy a range of dumbbell weights to allow for smooth progression. For example, a dumbbell weight-range of 2.5 to 55 pounds means buying set of weights between 2.5 to 55 pounds, at 5 pound increments.

This is most conveniently achieved with adjustable dumbbells.

Read my other article to find out if home dumbbells are worth the money

Conclusion

Finished!

That’s 36 of my favourite dumbbell exercises for skinny guys!

You may currently have a set of dumbbells. Or you may be thinking of getting a set.

Regardless, these 36 exercises will be more than enough to build muscle as a skinny guy.

You don’t have to perform every single exercise every week. In fact, that would be silly.

I’d reccomened you instead choose 2 or 3 exercises from each muscle group. And work on these for the week (or two). Then choose another 2 or 3 exercises for the following week.

This is not an exhaustive list. It’s just a list of exercises which helped me to personally build 40 pounds of muscle. And there are many more exercises you can do with dumbbells.

What dumbbell exercises have YOU heard about that didn’t make it on my list?

Let me know in the comments below!

Alternatively, download the FREE Kalibre Muscle Blueprint to find out EXACTLY how I transformed my skinny body as a hardgainer!

I used dumbbells to transform my body

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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