How to Lift Heavy Dumbbells (NEVER DO THIS!)


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Learning how to lift heavy dumbbells, whether you are a beginner or more advanced lifter, is a critical skill for safe lifting longevity. In this video, I am going to show you how to get in position to perform a dumbbell bench press with heavier dumbbells, the right way. From getting the dumbbells from the rack, to positioning yourself on the bench, to getting them back to the floor (without having to dump them) after your set is done we are going to cover it all.

Obviously, these techniques can be used no matter how heavy the weights you are using. They just tend to become more important as the weights you are using get heavier and heavier. To start, you have to look at the different ways in which you get your dumbbells to the bench to perform your heavy dumbbell bench press.

You can either lift and farmers carry them to the bench and, in one continuous move, sit down and get into your set. The problem with this technique is that often times the bench can be quite a distance away from the dumbbells. This is particularly true of the heavy dumbbells that tend to sit and collect dust at the far far end of the rack.

Nothing wrong with carrying them back and performing a farmer’s carry as this is one of my favorite exercises. The problem is however that this can actually fatigue your forearms just enough to interfere with your ability to confidently handle the heavier weights to perform your heavy bench press. While not bad to tax your forearms, doing so at the expense of what you could be achieving on your bench press is not what you are after.

The next alternative is to carry them to the bench and rest them on top. When you are ready to begin, you lift them and walk the front of the bench to sit down and get going. The issue here is that you usually have to perform some nifty footwork to back yourself in and, depending on the amount of room between you and the rack, this can get a little awkward.

So, instead I recommend that you put the dumbbells on the floor and set up as if you are going to perform a deadlift. Put your shoes under the handles at lace depth. Hinge forward at the hips and bend the knees when your hands are at the level of the knees. Grab the dumbbells and push back up as if performing a deadlift. Sit back when the bells get to the level of the knees. You will find that you can comfortably handle very heavy weights this way.

From here, you never want to do the double leg up swing back to the bench. You can risk falling off the bench, as I witnessed on my trip, simply because you can’t control what you can’t see as well as you can what you can see. Instead, lift one leg at a time to clean the dumbbells up to your shoulders and lower yourself down to the bench.

If you must dump the dumbbells at any time, always try to rock your legs forward a bit before you do. This greatly minimizes injury to the AC joint or anterior shoulder capsule in your shoulder by shifting the load to your upper arms instead. Preferably however, you’ll be able to get the dumbbells all the way to your knees where you can let them “fall” onto the knees and propel your body back up to the starting sitting position.

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