If you’re tired of your regular workout routine, you may be looking to step up your training with a new challenging move.

The dumbbell snatch is an excellent move to add to your training regimen to help you target multiple muscle groups and build explosive strength and power.

Still, keep in mind that this exercise is not a beginner move.

This article teaches you how to safely perform a proper dumbbell snatch and reviews its benefits.

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Eugenio Marongiu / Image Source/Offset Images

The dumbbell snatch is a multistep move that activates numerous muscle groups. It’s very similar to the kettlebell snatch but uses a weighted dumbbell instead of a kettlebell.

The first part of the exercise activates your lower body, mostly your glutes and hamstrings, while the second part focuses on your upper body, including your back and triceps. Your core muscles are active throughout the entire movement to keep your body stable.

Though this move can give you a great workout, it’s important that you follow proper form to protect yourself from injury. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to safely perform the move:

Step 1: Get into position

  1. Stand shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell on the floor between your feet. It’s best to use a light weight at first and gradually increase the load as you learn to perform the move safely with proper form.
  2. Keep your shoulders back, chest out, and eyes facing straight ahead. Ensure your back is straight.
  3. Push your hips back (hinge your hips) and bend your knees into a squat position. With a straight right arm, grab the dumbbell with an overhand grip. You should not have to reach far ahead or behind to grab the dumbbell.

Tip: Avoid hunching your back and looking down. To lower your body, hinge at your hips and bend with your knees.

Step 2: Build up momentum (upward movement)

  1. Before standing up, slightly rotate your elbow and shoulder externally (outward). Be sure your shins are perpendicular to the ground, you’re pushing into your heels, and your back is straight.
  2. Drive down into your heels and stand up explosively using your legs and glutes — your feet may leave the ground. Using the momentum of your lower body, begin to raise the dumbbell vertically in a straight line. It should be kept close to your body with a motion similar to that of zipping up a jacket.

Tip: Activate your glutes and thighs to create an explosive force. This force is crucial for transitioning the dumbbell safely and effectively.

Step 3: Transition the dumbbell overhead (“catch”)

  1. As the dumbbell approaches shoulder height, begin to pull the dumbbell backward toward your chest and flip your elbow so it’s now below the dumbbell. Press upward with the dumbbell — similarly to an upward punching motion — so that it’s above your head with a straight arm.

Tip: Focus on using the momentum from your lower body to transfer the weight rather than relying on your shoulder and arms.

Step 4: Return to starting position

  1. To lower the weight, bend your elbow outward and down (parallel to your shoulder) and slowly lower the weight back down to your side. Then bend your knees and hinge your hips to lower the weight back to the ground.

Tip: It’s best to avoid swinging the dumbbell downward too quickly, as this puts significant pressure on your rotator cuff, which is the muscle around your shoulder, and can lead to injury over time.

You should keep your core tight throughout the entire movement to stabilize your body. If your arms, lower back, or shoulders are sore or struggling, you’re not performing the move correctly.

If you’re new to this move, try performing the movement with a light dumbbell or water bottle until you can perform it safely and with proper form.

Considering the explosive nature of this move, perform 2–3 sets of 4–5 repetitions on both sides.

Here’s an instructional video on how to perform a dumbbell snatch.


The dumbbell snatch is a powerful, explosive exercise that targets your lower and upper body. Before adding a heavy dumbbell, be sure you master your form.

The dumbbell snatch is popular for a reason. It’s a unilateral move, meaning you exercise one side of your body at a time, that activates both your upper and lower body muscles (1).

The primary lower body muscles used include the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. During the explosive movement, your glutes and hamstrings help extend your hips, while your quadriceps extend your knees to help raise your body upward with powerful force (2, 3).

The upper body muscles targeted include your back muscles (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and spinal erectors), shoulder muscles (rotator cuff and deltoid), and triceps. Finally, your core muscles (abdominals) are active throughout the entire movement (2, 3).

In addition to activating your muscles, research has shown that moves like the dumbbell snatch and kettlebell snatch may help increase cardiorespiratory fitness, especially when part of a high intensity training routine (4, 5).

Collectively, the dumbbell snatch is an excellent move if you’re looking to target multiple muscle groups and improve your coordination, agility, and overall physical fitness (1, 2, 6).


The dumbbell snatch is a full-body workout that activates multiple upper and lower body muscle groups, such as your glutes, quadriceps, upper back muscles, and core.

The dumbbell snatch is not a beginner move. It requires good form, an understanding of your body’s anatomy, stability, and strength.

If you’re new to exercise, it’s best to start with simpler moves to get your body accustomed to exercise. However, if you’re ready to take things up a notch, the dumbbell snatch is the perfect move to add a new challenge.

It’s best to practice this move with a water bottle or very light weight dumbbell first. This will reduce the likelihood of injury and ensure you’re practicing good form. Try doing this in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

Once you feel comfortable with the motion of it, try it with a slightly heavier dumbbell. Only add heavier weight if you can perform the move safely without compromising your form or hurting yourself.

If you’re unsure whether you’re properly doing the dumbbell snatch, seek the advice of a physical trainer who can teach you how to perform it safely and effectively.

Before starting any exercise program, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s right for you.


While the dumbbell snatch is a great exercise, it can lead to injury if performed without proper form. If you wonder whether this move is right for you, consult your healthcare provider or physical trainer.

The dumbbell snatch is a powerful, full-body exercise. You can target your lower body (glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings), upper body (back, shoulders, and triceps), and core in one single move.

While this move can be the perfect challenge, you can injure yourself if your form isn’t right. Try practicing the move with a light dumbbell or water bottle in front of a mirror to help you master your form before progressing to a heavier weight.

Alternatively, work with a physical trainer who can help teach you how to perform the move safely and effectively.

If you’re ready for a challenge, it’s time to give the dumbbell snatch a try.