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The Dumbbell Swing Exercise

Here’s what I love about dumbbell swings. I can target my glutes (booty), hips, and hamstrings without having to put my knees at risk (such as doing deep squats). Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing squats but my knees aren’t what they used to be so dumbbell swings fit the bill quite nicely.

The key an effective dumbbell swing is making sure you bend at the hips and lean forward so that you activate your hips and glutes. In addition you don’t want to perform a squat so you want to keep a slight bend in your knees but not so much that you are performing a squat.

Remember, as you trust upwards with your hips you want to really engage your glutes so make sure to squeeze them in the fully contracted position (top part of the movement). The dumbbell swing can also be performed with a kettlebell.

Dumbbell Swings - Bottom Position

Dumbbell Swings - Top Contracted Position

Position for the dumbbell swing

Grab a single dumbbell (or kettlebell) and place it between your feet. Stand straight and retract your shoulders while puffing your chest outward. Square your shoulders. Bend at your hips and pick up the dumbbell with both hands (clasping the dumbbell). Stand up with the dumbbell in front of your waist.

How to perform the dumbbell swing

Bend your knees slightly and bend at your hips allowing your body to lean forward. Bend until you are just above parallel to the ground. Using a slight “swinging” motion, swing the dumbbell back (just past your knees) and thrust upwards using your hips, booty and lower back. Try not to use your legs to squat up. Rather, use your hip hinge motion to “swing” the dumbbell upwards. Swing the dumbbell upwards with your arms until they are parallel with the ground. Bend at your waist and allow the weight to descend back down (just past your knees).

You will want to squeeze your hips, hamstrings and booty when you are in the top (contracted) position.

Repeat this movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.  


Breathe in as you swing the weight down and breathe out as you swing upwards.  

Important points for dumbbell swing

- Remember to bend at the waist using your hip flexors. Don’t squat down too much – you should have a slight bend in your knees (not too much)

- Keep your head level and eyes forward.

- Do not round your shoulders as this will cause you to lose posture. Keep your shoulders retracted and arms straight (in a stationary position). Your arms should “swing” the weight.

- Your feet should be about 2 feet apart.

- When you are swinging the weight upward, using your hips, booty and hamstrings to “thrust” the weight upwards.

- Really squeeze your buttocks and hips in the contracted (top) position.

Video for the dumbbell swing exercise

Over his 30 plus years of experience, Blake Bissaillion has worked with nationally ranked body builders, power lifters and fitness professionals. In this time he has picked up volumes of applied knowledge that he openly shares with his clients. Mr. Bissaillion’s objective is to help as many beginners to weight training and fitness to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals while getting into their best possible shape. Mr. Bissaillion owns and operates Belly Be Gone, a fitness company that offers fitness and nutritional guidance and products.

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