Dumbbell Squat 101: A How-To Guide

January 20, 2012

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The Dumbbell Squat is a foundational exercise for any athlete who wants to build strength and power in the legs and hips, particularly in the quads and glutes. It eliminates the weight load on the upper back in the traditional Squat, a move that can cause technique problems for novice lifters. Through this guide, you'll learn how to perform the Dumbbell Squat to take your workouts to the next level.

Dumbbell Squat How-To

  • Assume athletic stance with dumbbells at sides and feet slightly wider than hip width
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Extend hips and knees to drive up out of squat position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Squat Exercise

Getting Started
Beginners should focus on perfecting form and technique before adding resistance. Perform Bodyweight Squats or Wall Squats.

Advanced Dumbbell Squats
For an additional challenge, increase your Squat depth, rise up onto your toes to strengthen your calves, perform single-leg variations or add a shoulder press. You can also increase the challenge by performing the Dumbbell Squat on an inverted Bosu ball or other unstable surface to improve balance and stability.

Common Dumbbell Squat Mistakes and Solutions

  1. Knees Collapse Inward: Reduce resistance for subsequent sets. Also, perform Bodyweight Squats with a mini band wrapped around thighs just above knees to strengthen the muscles that keep the knees aligned with the hips and ankles.
  2. Knees Travel Beyond Toes: Reduce resistance for subsequent sets. Focus on sitting your hips back and keeping your chest up.
  3. Leaning Forward: This places excessive strain on the lower back. If you find yourself leaning, focus on sitting your hips back and keeping your chest up. In addition, perform Bodyweight Squats to improve mobility.
  4. Rounded Back: Reduce resistance for subsequent sets. This is caused by insufficient core strength. Strengthen the core with exercises like Hypers and Planks before adding additional resistance to your Squat.

Dumbbell Squat Technique Variations
To continue making strength and size gains, it’s important to vary your exercise selection. Learn how to squat and find a full list of Squat variations in Squat 101: A How-To Guide.

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
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