The Old School Dumbbell Swing

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I recently wrote an article for on Dumbbell Swing by Arthur Saxon, but since it was described in text I thought it would be a good idea to make a video for it since most people haven’t seen this lift before.

Dumbbell swing is rarely practiced these days, but it’s a great one nonetheless. The dumbbell swing is quite different from a kettlebell swing in which the kettlebell comes to hips height or maybe head height, but the main characteristic of dumbbell swing is a straight arm swing to an overhead position. So, the arm doesn’t bend and at all, like it does when performing a snatch. Instead you keep it straight throughout the entire swing, from underneath you to over head. Those are some basic principles of a dumbbell swing.

Steps & Variations

The best starting position for a dumbbell is shown in the picture below.

Dumbbell position

Dumbbell position

You can go with the regular position of a dumbbell on the floor as well, but in that case the dumbbell may get in your way. Some oldtime strongmen took this a step further and weighed one side slightly more than the other in order to help them with the swing.

Step 1

Get in the position shown below and make sure to keep the dumbbell far behind you to be able to really swing through. The starting position is the same for both swinging styles.

Starting position

Starting position

Step 2

Similar to a snatch, you’re gonna get under the weight and you can choose between two styles – the overhead and the split style. Take a look at the video above for the exact movement pattern for both variations or consult the pictures below.

Overhead Style

overhead1 overhead2 overhead3 overhead4

Split Style

split1 split2 split3 split4

For the split style you can go forward with any leg you prefer and once you start practicing these on a regular basis, you can work your way up to some serious weight. If you’d like something to mix up your training a bit, the old school dumbbell swing is the perfect fit.

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