T Nation

Dumbell Squats & Deads


Hey there,

I'm curious as to how many people on this forum have done squat or DL work with dumbells. Personally, I am in love with these exercises and I consider them to be some of the toughest in my arsenal. High endurance, total body training protocols such as Tabata and ilk were seemingly designed for use with DB's. There's nothing like 20-rep DB squats!


I've used DB squat/deads when I've had to, due to lack of other equipment. Not my favortie thing in the world, but, they'll do. If DBs are all we have, then 1-arm squats/deads (pretty much the same basic movement, eh?), are where it's at. Especially 1-arm overheads. Niiiiiice.

When I used to work at a fitness equipment retail store, people would ask what they needed to buy to get a good workout (I know, a real dream customer), I'd say you can spend $1299 on a home gym, or $40 for a pair of DBs and a jump rope. Needless to say, my manager never liked that response. Funny enough, neither did the customers.


I think high rep-from the floor-no bouncing strict dumbell deadlifts are brutty effecting for strength and size gains. they really hit your abs and obliques hard as hell. I have done up to 150lbers for 20 reps and it was hard and result producing. 700 plus pound deadlifts in contests as a result of these and a well thought out program.


At a conference center I was at last year, there was little gym. Kind of funny- they had a GHR bench, but no barbell! I had to settle for a smith machine, less than 300 lbs of plate weight and DB up to 60lbs. After refreshing myself on all the reasons why Mr. Smith totally sucks, I stuck with DBs for the most part.

I did Bulgarian squats, RDLs, hang snatches, drop snatches and of course DB presses and military presses.It ended up being pretty fun actually- lighter weights, hi reps on everything, probably gave my body a nice break from heavy barbell work.

Soon, I want to buy a pair of medium-sized kettlebells to bring with when I'm out of town. As an added bonus, Maybe I'll get to explain to the dipshit TSA guys why I have two cannonballs in my suitcase. That ought to be as much fun as explaining to the customs guys what's up with the big tupperware bowl of gym chalk.


This might seem like an odd question, but when you do the DB squats, where exactly are you holding the weights? At your sides or perched near your shoulders?

I will have to try the DB deadlifts. The only time I have done them before is when I have done one-legged deadlifts with a DB, which were great.



Did you do the dumbell deads on the same day that you deadlifted or on a different day?


I always hold them down at my sides. In my opinion there is no point to having them up on your shoulders since if I wanted to do that I'd just use a barbell.

I use BB's for wide stance, PL-style squatting, but for narrow stance I'm unable to do this because I would fall over with the weight on my back! (shitty biomechanics) This is why I first started doing squats with DB's.

I haven't tried 1-legged DB Squats/Deads yet. Now that must be a brutal oblique exercise if ever there was one.

I have found that using DBs for squats makes for the most brutal total body exercise imaginable. The added element of having to maintain upper body posture with isometric contraction throughout the ROM really makes this as brutal an exercise as they come. It is a great alternative to front BB Squats, a total quad-killer (when done strictly, as noted above). And naturally, the added grip work has a huge carryover to your BB deads.

Use them on your speed day and treat them as an extreme form of GPP conditioning training (or quad development, if your training is more bodybuilding orientated).

Hope that a few people will be inspired to go out and try these. I'd love to know what you think!