If I only had one dumbbell and needed to reach a strength training goal, the dumbbell swing would be one of my exercises of choice. This weight training exercise is very simple and yet powerfully effective at eliciting a positive training effect. I like this weight training exercise mostly because it is easy to learn, requires minimal equipment, and works great for burning fat, building lean muscle tissue, and generating strength and power for athletic activities.
While the dumbbell swing may look like an arm exercise, the motion is actually generated in the legs with the extension of the knees and hips pressing into the ground. The core muscles will then channel that energy into the arm which is locked down in order to prevent it from “lifting” the dumbbell. Don’t let the way this exercise looks fool you, this is a full-body exercise that is challenging both to local musculature and to the cardiovascular system.
Programmed correctly into a strength training program, this exercise can create a large metabolic disturbance, resulting in more total calories burned.
Single-arm Dumbbell Swing
There are a few technique tips to keep in mind when performing this exercise.
1) Maintain good posture – this includes a flat back and a relaxed neck and spine, but also a locked down core. Your abdominal muscles should be actively contracted during the explosive, swinging phase of the movement.
2) Maintain shoulder pack position – actively packing your shoulder directly downwards onto your ribcage. This creates a structure that allows the dumbbell to travel smoothly with no excess movement.
3) Maintain elbow lock – bending your elbow will allow energy to “leak out” at that joint. Keeping your elbow locked will ensure that you get the most benefit from the exercise.
4) Use an intelligent grip – using the popular “death grip” with high intensity dumbbell swings isn’t a smart idea because you’re grip muscles will fatigue quickly. Since we want a full body training effect, we must use the intelligent grip protocol. This entails gripping just enough to maintain control of the dumbbell, and even lessening your grip while the DB is in freefall at the top of the motion (the moment when it stops ascending upwards, and begins to descend downwards). This gives your grip muscles a break and allows you to train more.
5) Allow your leg drive to do the swing work – pressing your feet into the ground while you explosively extend your hips forward and straighten your legs is the driving force of this exercise.
6) Exhale forcefully on effort – this is when the dumbbell is in back position (between your legs) and the body is literally coiled down to extend the hips and legs. When you release that elastic energy, effectively swinging the dumbbell upwards, that is when to forcefully exhale through your mouth.
Plugging this into a strength training program is really simple, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. You could do DB swings for time – doing rounds of one minute/arm. You could try doing heavier swings for reps, doing sets of 10, 20, 50, etc. This could also just be a supplementary exercise that you do at the beginning or end of your sessions. It all depends on your goals.
Like training with dumbbells?
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Health-First Fitness Coach