Walk into any gym, and you’ll have your fair share of different types of equipment at your disposal. If you’re looking to amp up your strength, your gut reaction may be to reach for the barbell, but as Gregory Nieratka, head endurance coach at Solace New York, says: “While that’s not entirely wrong, you may want to think again.” Instead, Nieratka suggests you pick up a single dumbbell and execute a dumbbell workout.
Single Dumbbell Workout
“With single-dumbbell work, the unilateral nature has the added benefit of strengthening your core at the same time: it needs to work harder to stabilize you since the load is imbalanced,” he says. This is ideal because you’re lugging around much less equipment than normal to get in your workout. Plus, using just one dumbbell exposes any strength imbalances that are masked when you use a barbell.
Think about it: everyone has one arm or leg that is a bit stronger than the other. By doing single-arm work during a dumbbell workout, you’ll even out that strength and direct all of your attention more closely to the working side of your body.
You may be already incorporating more single-side training into your routine than you notice. For instance, take a dumbbell snatch, an exercise commonly done one side at a time. Start with a wider-than-hip-width stance and a dumbbell between your feet. Grab the middle of the dumbbell with your arm straight. Then, with your hips low and your chest high, drive through your heels. Aggressively open your hips and shoulders at the same time. Once your hips are open, aggressively pull the dumbbell overhead with a straight arm. Guide it back to the ground, switch hands, and repeat.
Give Nieratka’s favorite dumbbell workout (with snatches) a try. You will complete 21 reps of the snatch, alternating arms with each rep, and then once you finish those, you’ll follow it up with 21 burpees jumping over that dumbbell after each rep. When you go for the burpees over the dumbbell, make sure you’re jumping off the ground with both feet at the same time, before landing to execute your burpee.
Do this workout for time, and then challenge yourself to repeat this dumbbell workout later in the week. You may be surprised how much faster you’ll get with practice.
(You can also use a kettlebell for the snatches.)
21-15-9 Dumbbell Workout
21 Single-arm dumbbell snatches, burpees over the dumbbell
15 Single-arm dumbbell snatches, burpees over the dumbbell
9 Single-arm dumbbell snatches, burpees over the dumbbell
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