The Dumbbell Challenge to Test Your Explosive Strength

Dumbbell Snatch
Dumbbell SnatchJames Michelfelder

The dumbbell snatch exercise is the perfect way to test your explosive speed/strength (see below). If you’ve never performed this move before, you need to spend a month working on it before it will provide a useful measurement of your power level. Follow the program below for three weeks, and then take the test.

How it’s done:

Grab a dumbbell in one hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back fl at, bend at the hips and knees until you’re in a quarter-squat position—let the hand with the dumbbell hang [1]. From there, explosively jump up, extending your entire body. As you rise, pull the weight straight up in front of your body, keeping it close until it reaches the middle of your chest, then tuck your elbow and fl ing the weight overhead [2]. Let the momentum generated in your hips be the force that moves the dumbbell most of the way upward. That’s one rep.

Prep for the test

Perform the dumbbell snatch first in one of your workouts each week. Use a weight that you can move very fast for each rep. Remember to shrug your shoulders as high as you can to move the dumbbell upward, and jump with your legs to generate hip power.

  • Week 1: 5 sets of 5 reps, rest 60 sec
  • Week 2: 6 sets of 3 reps, rest 60 sec
  • Week 3: 6-8 sets of 2 reps, rest 60 sec

Week 4: The test

Warm up with four to six sets of one rep each, and then do two to three work sets of three reps, working up to the heaviest weight you can.

Rate yourself:

If the heaviest dumbbell you could use was approximately…

  • 25% of your body weight—You are slow and weak
  • 35% of your body weight—No need to be ashamed
  • 45% of your body weight—You are officially strong
  • 55% of your body weight—You’re scary

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