How to Do a Dumbbell Swing

How to Do a Dumbbell Swing

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Perform the dumbbell swing one arm at a time for a variation.

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A complex exercise, the dumbbell swing requires you to lift a dumbbell from a low position between your legs up to your chest or above your head. The exercise is classically performed with a kettlebell, but in a pinch, you can work with a dumbbell as a substitute. Executing the dumbbell swing with proper form can help you to activate and strengthen your legs, glutes, core, shoulders and back, all at once.


Warm up by performing 10 minutes of light cardio, such as jogging, jumping rope or climbing stairs. Follow the cardio with one to two 12-repetition sets of bodyweight squats to further engage your leg and abdominal muscles.


Choose a dumbbell weight that allows you to become fatigued at between eight and 12 repetitions, which means that you could not perform one more repetition with proper form. Hold the dumbbell lengthwise with both hands in front of your thighs.


Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Straighten your back, press the shoulder blades down and away from your ears and pull your abs in toward your spine.


Bend your knees to 45 degrees as you hinge your hips back and lean your torso forward. Simultaneously swing the dumbbell between your legs, allowing it to extend back until it is under your glutes.


Press through your feet as you straighten your legs and push your hips forward in an explosive motion. Swing the dumbbell up to chest level, with both arms extended straight in front of you. Continue to swing the dumbbell over your head for an added strengthening benefit to your shoulders and back.


Proceed to the next repetition immediately by lowering the dumbbell between your legs as you again bend your knees and hinge your hips back.


  • Keep your abdominal muscles engaged throughout the exercise to protect your lower back.
  • Vary the exercise by performing it single-armed; hold a dumbbell in one hand with an overhand grip so that the dumbbell is parallel to the floor, rather than holding it lengthwise with both hands at one time. Perform the same number of repetitions on each side.


  • Avoid using a dumbbell weight that is too heavy for your fitness level; using an inappropriate amount of weight can cause an injury to your back during the swinging motion.
  • Consult with a physician before starting a new exercise program. Inform your doctor if you have any back or hip injuries or issues that interfere with performing the dumbbell swing.