8 different ways to hold a dumbbell.
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8 Ways To Hold A Dumbbell For An Awesome Workout

Change the way you hold a dumbbell and you’ll instantly make a workout different.

I love making small tweaks like this because it’s a great way to ask more from your body without adding more weight or more reps.

And remember, get outside your comfort zone to have the opportunity for new results.Here are 8 ways to hold dumbbells during your next workout.

Keep in mind…

Keep in mind...

Even though I happen to be doing squats with all of these examples(or most of them)… You can use these for just about any exercise like lunges… walking… farmers carry… presses… and more…

In fact there are some really cool combos you can do. I’ll highlight some at the bottom of this post.Let’s get into it.

1 - Single Dumbbell Above Chest

This is my preferred way to squat and lunge with a dumbbell.


Because it keeps the dumbbell closest to your body so there’s not much offset pull, making it easier to keep the chest up and back straight.

You can use a heavier dumbbell when you do this too. This is why I like it because I tend to go heavy… ish.

2 - Two Dumbbells At The Shoulders

This is a tough way to hold dumbbells.

I love it because it’s pretty close to holding two kettlebells in racked… but not as hard… but pretty close.

It really requires arm and shoulder strength, you’ll feel your biceps getting tired after a big set!

And it’s not just pure strength but stability to balance the weights which is great to always be working with your shoulders.

Keep it solid

When you hold dummbells like this… focus on your bracing(especially core bracing). Keep the shoulders engaged so they don't slouch forward, the lats tight to help, and your core braced for action.

3 - Single Dumbbell At Shoulder (Racked)

Practically the same as above… with one difference.

Here you have a pretty big offset because of uneven weight. This is great because it causes your body to brace hard naturally while working those abs more to stay upright.

Again… this is similar to holding a kettlebell… but I’ll cover that more in a different post about holding kettlebells correctly. ;)

4 - In Between Legs

I don’t really use this method often because I’d rather use a kettlebell. But maybe you don’t have kettlebells, and you might want to try this move.

It’s good when you want to go REALLY REALLY HEAVY.

You’re going to really have to focus on keeping your back straight and pushing the hips BACK and DOWN for a full range of motion and safe rep.

One variation I really like is going with a really really heavy dumbbell and standing on two boxes so you can increase your legs range of motion. I think that is pretty cool.

Between the boxes

If you want to try this version, set up two boxes that are the same height and separated just enough to set the dumbbell in the middle.

Next, stand with one foot on each box, over the weight. Squat down, grab the weight and bam... you're ready to go. You'll be able to go much deeper into the squats since the floor won't impeed your distance.

But a squat is really the only applicable exercise with this variation of holding the dumbbell.

5 - Single Suitecase Hold

I love the suitcase hold.

This is great for squatting… lunging… farmers carry(amazing)… and you can even suitcase hold while hanging from a bar for grip strength(advanced).

That is what I really love about the suitcase hold… it works your grip and forearm strength… something most women don’t work on.

One quick tip… when you hold the dumbbell like this… don’t use a hook grip

A hook grip is when your thumb is goes under the handle.

Rather wrap your thumb around the bar (with the rest of your fingers). This way you can squeeze the dumbbell and make muscle in your arms for more bracing and strength.

Squeezing like this is also an isometric exercise in it’s own right.

6 - Double Suitecase

The double is the same as above…BUT… it does get a little squirrelly(fun word, right?) when you squat with two dumbbells. You will have to take a narrower stance so your legs don’t get in the way of the dumbbells.

I like to keep my feet only 4 inches apart.

But if you go really heavy and treat this more like a deadlift rather than a squat… it’s an amazing exercise. I tend to use kettlebells instead of dumbbells but it can work either way.

Changing It Up A Bit...

7 - Isometric Hold

Okay… this is kind of strange but I wanted to put it here.

Most women I see never do exercises like this but it can make a huge difference to your overall strength and joint strength.

All you’re going to do is take some light dumbbells and hold them out with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.

How long can you hold them before you have to come down?

This is isometric strength training and it’s great for overall strength.

8 - Dumbbell Floor Press Techniques

I love floor presses.

They're a great alternative to pushups for a chest and shoulder focused exercise, plus it’s challenging.

I am grouping a couple different variations in this #8…

You have a single press… a double press… alternating presses…

Here’s a cool exercise… press two heavier dumbbells up and hold them there. Don’t just hold them but extend through your shoulders.

This is really good for shoulder stabilization and those small rotator cuff muscles. These are muscles that can always use strengthening.

One or two?

You might think that holding two dummbells is more intense, but by using one at a time you actually use more core muscles and might find it more challenging.

Play with both versions in your workout for the best training.

9 - BONUS: Hip Extensions

This last hold for a dumbbell is for hip extensions and you just plop it on those hips.

Hip extensions are amazing. At the time of writing this post, I’m actually doing heavy hip thrusters with a barbell everyday for 45 days.

It’s a great exercise to do before/after deadlifts… or to do with kettlebell swings to really add focus on the glutes.

Make sure you push through your heels.

I lifted my toes up in this picture to demo that’s where the push is coming from, but if you can, keep your feet flat and still push hard through your heels.

Time To Change Up A Workout

Take two or three of these dumbbell holds and repeat some workouts.

See how the workout changes.

Find a variation that challenges you the most. It’s vital you choose the stuff you’re not good at if you want to make big leaps with your fitness and strength.

And always go as heavy as you can for what the workout prescribes.

If you want to learn more about how to get more from your workouts… and you want workouts where you can put these techniques to good use…

Come join Fit Womens WeeklyInternal Site Link Icon and get started with a free reset program.

My program Body Burn Reset and even Ignite are both great programs for using these dumbbell techniques.

Body Burn Challenges is more of an intermediate program and it will use dumbbells in almost every workout if you want to.

Ignite is my beginner program. You can use dumbbells here, but I suggest you work more on form. Although there are some workouts I use a dumbbell as a way to teach better form.

You can buy a program and own it forever or you can join monthly and get access to every workout program.

The choice is yours but I hope to see you as a member today.

Go try some of these and let me know what you think.