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Future Fit Traning

Best 3 Total Body Exercises with Dumbbells

Guest author Human Kinetics have pulled together 3 of their favourites, complete with technique tips, adapted from Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training, 4th Edition.

If you’re looking for resistance exercises which will work your whole body, look no further.

Guest author Human Kinetics have pulled together 3 of their favourites, complete with technique tips, adapted from Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training, 4th Edition.

1. The One-Arm Dumbbell Snatch

Starting Position

one-arm dumbbell snatch
  • Straddle a dumbbell on the floor and place the feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart with the toes pointed slightly outward.
  • Squat down with the hips lower than the shoulders and grasp the dumbbell with a closed, pronated grip with the elbow fully extended.
  • The arm that is not holding the dumbbell should hang down next to that side of the body.
  • Just before lift-off, observe the preparatory body position and lifting guidelines to place the body in the correct position to lift the dumbbell off the floor.
  • All repetitions begin from this position.

Upward Movement

one-arm dumbbell snatch upward movement

Catch

  • After the lower body has fully extended and the dumbbell reaches a near-maximal height, pull the body under the dumbbell by rotating the arm and the hand holding the dumbbell around and then under the dumbbell and by flexing the hips and knees to approximately a quarter-squat position.
  • Once the arm holding the dumbbell is under the dumbbell, extend the elbow quickly to push the dumbbell up and the body downward under the dumbbell.
  • The quarter-squat position should be reached with the elbow of the arm holding the dumbbell fully extended just as the dumbbell reaches its maximum height.
  • The arm that is not holding the dumbbell should remain on the opposite hip or be held to the side.

After gaining control and balance, stand up to a fully erect position.

one-arm dumbbell snatch end position

Ending position

Downward Movement

  • At the completion of the repetition, slowly lower the dumbbell from the overhead position by gradually reducing the muscular tension of the shoulder of the arm holding the dumbbell; allow a controlled descent of the dumbbell first to the shoulder, then the thigh, and finally to the floor between the feet, using a squatting movement.
  • Reposition the dumbbell and the body for the next repetition, if applicable.

2. Dumbbell Hang Power Clean

Starting Position

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean start
  • Grasp two dumbbells with a closed grip.
  • Observe the preparatory body position and lifting guidelines to place the body in the correct position to lift the dumbbells off the floor.
  • Slowly lift the dumbbells along the shins and knees until standing erect with the dumbbells resting on the front of the thighs, or near the sides of the thighs.
  • From this standing position with the arms fully extended, lean forward and flex the hips and knees to place the dumbbells slightly above or below the knees, depending on the length of the lifter’s torso and arms.
  • All repetitions begin from this position.

Upward Movement

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean upward
  • Begin the exercise by forcefully extending the hips, knees, and ankles (commonly called the triple extension).
  • The dumbbells should slide up the thighs, or remain very close to the thighs, as they accelerate upward.
  • Keep the shoulders over the dumbbells and the elbows extended as long as possible. As the lower body joints fully extend, rapidly shrug the shoulders but keep the elbows extended and pointed out to the sides.
  • At maximal shoulder elevation, flex the elbows. The dumbbells should pass as close to the torso as possible.
  • Continue to pull with the arms as high and as long as possible.
  • This triple extension will result in an erect or slightly hyperextended torso and head, and the feet may come off the floor.

Catch

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean catch
  • After the lower body has fully extended and the dumbbells reach maximal height, pull the body under the dumbbells by rotating the arms and hands around and then under the dumbbells and by flexing the hips and knees to approximately a quarter-squat position.
  • Catch the dumbbells at the anterior deltoids and clavicles with the elbows slightly forward of the dumbbells.
  • The feet will regain contact with the floor in a slightly wider stance in comparison to the starting position.
  • After gaining control and balance, stand up to a fully erect position (not shown).

Downward Movement

  • At the completion of the repetition, rotate the arms and hands back around the dumbbells to unrack them from the anterior deltoids and clavicles, and slowly lower the dumbbells down to the thighs. Slightly flex the hips and knees to cushion the impact of the dumbbells on the thighs.
  • If additional repetitions are to be performed, stand fully erect first and then follow the guidelines to move the body into the correct starting position. Do not return the dumbbells to the floor between repetitions.
  • At the completion of the set, slowly flex the hips and knees at the same rate (to keep an erect torso position) to return the dumbbells to the floor in a controlled manner.

3. Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press

Standing Position

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press start

Starting Position

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press starting
  • Stand with the feet hip- or shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, hanging them next to the sides of the body.
  • From the upright position, lower the dumbbells to midthigh, at or just above the knees.
  • All repetitions begin from this position.

Upward Movement

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press upward

Catch

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press catch

Standing position (before dip)

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press standing

Dip

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press dip

Ending Position

Dumbbell Hang Power Clean to Push Press end position
  • Start the pull by explosively extending the hips, knees, and ankles while keeping the arms extended.
  • Thrust the shoulders up and back and the hips slightly forward and up.
  • Extend up onto the toes before pulling with the arms.
  • Keep the dumbbells close to the body.
  • As the lower body becomes fully extended, rapidly shrug the shoulders, and start the pull with the arms.
  • Lower to a quarter squat, and rotate the wrists under the dumbbells while moving the elbows up in front of the body to rack the dumbbells on the front of the shoulders.
  • Fully stand up, and immediately take a shallow squat while keeping the torso erect and arms stationary (the dip); then explosively extend the hips, knees, and ankles while simultaneously pressing the dumbbells directly overhead (the drive).

Downward Movement

In a controlled manner, lower the dumbbells back to the shoulders and then down to the starting position.

For more exercises like these complete with full technique tips, see Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training.

Find more strength training tips and books on the Human Kinetics website.