Dumbbell Swing Workouts, Technique, Benefits and Training Tips

The Dumbbell Swing is an underused yet highly effective exercise. Similar in form to the Kettlebell Swing, the Dumbbell Swing offers a different stimulus due to the alternative object.

This article will show you how to do Dumbbell Swings, how to learn the proper technique for performing the movement and give you 5 workouts that allow you to add the exercise into your training.

Dumbbell Swing Workouts

Here you can find out exactly how each Dumbbell Swing Workout will test and improve your body.

  • Workout 1 – Run, jump and swing. A great full body conditioning workout
  • Workout 2 – Improve your core and upper body strength and movement
  • Workout 3 – A longer chipper. Test and strengthen your mental and physical toughness
  • Workout 4 – Carry, swing and run. Effective, fun and varied grunt work
  • Workout 5 – 20 minute AMRAP that will improve power, strength and stamina

Benefits of the Dumbbell Swing

The Dumbbell Swing will boost your strength, endurance, power and speed. It forces you to stay tight and strong at all times, making you concentrate on your breath and bracing throughout the full range of motion. The movement will improve your grip and forearm strength because it requires you to grip on tightly at all times.

Dumbbells ©Delaney Van

Another advantage is that this exercise doesn’t put any compression on the spine or joints. Provided you keep your back strong and straight, it is a relatively safe exercise that will bring excellent results.

What Muscles do Dumbbell Swings Work?

The Dumbbell Swing targets and challenges both the upper and lower body, as well as the core. The movement activates the hamstrings, quads, pecs and chest, traps, shoulders and abs.

The dynamic motion also forces the stabiliser muscles: the midback, lower back, rotator cuff and forearms to work hard to maintain control.

Dumbbell Swings vs Kettlebell Swings – Are they as Good?

The simple answer is that they are different.

They work in a similar way and therefore target many of the same muscle groups that elicit the same conditioning benefits, but the Dumbbell Swing places both hands in a neutral grip, rather than an overhand (pronated) grip on the handle of the kettlebell.

This forces your muscles to work in a new way which is highly effective for adding new stimulus into your training.

The Dumbbell Swing does not allow the object to move as independently as a Kettlebell Swing.

A dumbbell is easier to control than a kettlebell. This makes it a useful exercise for beginners getting used to the movement, or for intermediate and advanced athletes loading up heavier weights than may otherwise not be possible with a kettlebell.

How do you do Dumbbell Swings?

This video guide will give you a good introduction about how you can perform Dumbbell Swings correctly.

Full Technique for the Dumbbell Swing

  1. Place the dumbbell on the floor directly beneath your body. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart
  2. With a straight back, deadlift the weight up into a standing position (full extension).
  3. Grip the dumbbell with both hands. The grip position is similar to a Dumbbell Hammer Curl
  4. Inhale and brace your core, grip and glutes
  5. Bring your chest up and your shoulder back and down. Lean forward slightly with your arms straight
  6. Swing the dumbbell back through your legs, then explode forward and swing the dumbbell until it reaches head height out in front of you. Keep your arms straight at all times.
  7. Control the descent of the dumbbell as it returns to the starting position. Exhale during this part of the movement
  8. Repeat

Training Tips for the Dumbbell Swing

Start light with this exercise and work up to heavier weights. This will give your body time to adjust and get used to the movement and stimulus whilst working through progressive overload to create strength and/or muscle gains.

Make sure your upper traps (shoulders) aren’t elevated in the starting position.

Try to keep the reps smooth and establish rhythm throughout sets.

DUMBBELL SWING WORKOUTS

Dumbbell Swing Workout 1

For Time

  • 400 metre Run
  • 30 Dumbbell Swings (50/35 lb)
  • 20 Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Walking Lunges (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Burpee Box Jump Overs (24/20 in)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written.

Your score is the time on the clock when the last rep of the Burpee Box Jump Overs is completed.

Tips and Strategy

The 400 metre Run should take under 3 minutes at the most. For the dumbbell swings, you can hold the dumbbell with two hands on the handle, or on one of the heads itself and swing it just like a kettlebell.

The loading should be something that you can perform 30 unbroken reps regardless of the weight and manage to finish in under 1 minute.

The overhead walking lunge steps are designed to be done with consecutive steps, but if you are cramped for space, perform them in a single fixed place. Alternate arms overhead (or not) however you want to. They should take no more than 40 seconds to complete.

Lastly, for the Burpee Box Jump Over, these repetitions should take no longer than 30 seconds to complete. If you don’t have a Box, only perform these if the object you are using can be made stable and safe. You can jump all the way over it, or jump on top, then over, up to you.

Have fun with this one and go fast!

Scaling Options

No Equipment

For Time

Run: If running 400 metres will take you over 3 minutes, Run 200 metres. If you have an injury or limitation that prevents you from running today, and have access to any one of these machines, perform either:

(a) 500 metre Row

(b) 800 metre Bike

(c) 400 metre Ski Erg

Dumbbell Swing: If you have an injury or limitation that prevents you from going overhead, perform a Single-Arm Hang Snatch with the good arm.

Dumbbell Overhead Walking Lunge: If you are working at our overhead capacity, perform a Front-Rack Walking Lunge. If you have an injury or limitation that prevents you from Lunging, perform 20 Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts.

Burpee Box Jump Over: If you do not have a Box to jump over, perform Burpees over your Dumbbell, facing the Dumbbell. If you have an injury or limitation that prevents you from going all the way to the floor, perform a Squat Thrust.

If you have an upper body injury or limitation that prevents you from using one of our arms, perform either Box Jumps (if you have a Box) or Squat Jumps to a target.

If you have a Box and an injury or limitation that prevents you from jumping, perform Step-Ups.

Dumbbell Swing Workout 2

7 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Man Makers
  • 20 Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • 30 Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatches (15 per side)
  • 40 Single-Arm Overhead Lunges (20 per side)
  • 50 Dumbbell Swings

Use one pair of dumbbells throughout the entire workout (pick your own weight).

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 7 rounds. This workout was originally intended to be a “choose your own weight” adventure. If you’re looking for an Rx weight consider 35/25 lb.

One Man Maker consists of a dumbbell push-up, two renegade rows (one per arm), and a Squat Clean Thruster.

Your score is the time on the clock when the last round of Dumbbell Swings has been completed.

Tips & Strategy

Settle in for a long workout (intermediate athletes should finish in 50-90 minutes) by picking a pace that you can maintain for that amount of time. In other words, don’t do the first 10 Man Makers unbroken. Do one, rest a second, do another, etc.

For the rest of the movements, break up the reps into very manageable sets. Go slower than you think you need to for round one. See if you can hold that pace for the next 6 rounds.

Dumbbell Swing Workout 3

For time

  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Deadlifts
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Cleans
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Strict Presses
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Push Presses
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Jerks
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Dumbbell Swings
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Snatches (Left Hand)
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Snatches (Right Hand)
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Man Makers

Use one pair of Dumbbells (55/35 lb) throughout this entire Dumbbell Swings workout.

Originally the workout was designed as “choose your own weight.” If you’re looking for an Rx weight consider 50/35 lb.

One Man Maker consists of a Dumbbell Push-Up, two Renegade Rows (one per arm), and a Squat Clean Thruster.

Score is the time on the clock when the last repetition of Man Makers is completed.

Movement Standards

Most of the weighted movements (Deadlifts, Cleans, Strict Presses, Push Presses, Jerks and Man Makers) are intended to be done with two Dumbbells.

As in most functional fitness workouts, Olympic lifts (Cleans & Snatches) are power (not squat) unless otherwise stated.

Snatches are with a single Dumbbell, one arm at a time.

Plan how to improve your gymnastic skills

Dumbbell Swing Workout 4

For Time

800 metre Run

Then, 2 Rounds of:

  • 8 Dumbbell Burpees to Presses (2×45/30 lb)
  • 100 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×45/30 lb)
  • 8 Dumbbell Burpees to Presses (2×45/30 lb)
  • 100 metre Front Rack Shoulder Carry (2×45/30 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Swings (1×45/30 lb)

Finally, perform:

  • 800 metre Run

With a running clock, complete the run and dumbbell movement as quickly as possible.

Score is time competed to do all of the runs and dumbbell movements.

Intermediate

For Time

  • 800 metre Run

Then, 2 Rounds of:

  • 8 Dumbbell Burpees to Presses (2×35/20 lb)
  • 100 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×35/20 lb)
  • 8 Dumbbell Burpees to Presses (2×35/20 lb)
  • 100 metre Front Rack Shouler Carry (2×35/20 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Swings (1×35/20 lb)

Finally, perform:

  • 800 metre Run

Beginner

For Time

  • 400 metre Run

Then, 2 Rounds of:

  • 8 Dumbbell Burpees to Presses (2×20/12 lb)
  • 100 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×20/12 lb)
  • 8 Dumbbell Burpees to Presses (2×20/12 lb)
  • 100 metre Front Rack Shoulder Carry (2×20/12 lb)

Finally, perform:

  • 400 metre Run

Dumbbell Swing Workout 5

AMRAP in 20 minutes

  • 10 Box Jumps
  • 10 Dumbbell Swings
  • 10 Lunges (alternating legs)
  • 10 Right Arm Dumbbell Snatches
  • 10 Left Arm Dumbbell Snatches

Complete as many rounds as possible within the 20 minutes.

Scaling

This Dumbbell Swing Workout is intended to be done with a single dumbbell. Choose a lighter weight in order to scale.

Keep Your Training Varied and Your Body Guessing

The above Dumbbell Swing Workouts are all great ways to introduce new stimulus into your training. They force you to move in new ways and to challenge your mind to think differently about seemingly familiar movements.

They will also help you to build a stronger upper body, better power production and enhance your conditioning. This can transfer well across to outdoor fitness activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and stone lifting.

If you enjoyed these workouts then challenge yourself with other unique exercises such as Wall Walks or Dead Hangs.

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