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Single-Arm Dumbbell Squats

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

Balance and counterbalance are a crucial part of strength. The micro changes made by your muscles as part of maintaining balance are an often-neglected tool in many weight-lifting regimens. For the single-arm dumbbell squat, you'll train your major leg muscle groups but also your abdominal obliques as you engage them to counterbalance the weight held in one hand and keep you upright as you descend into the squat.

Muscles Worked
Abdominals (obliques)

Starting Position
Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and with a dumbbell in your left hand. Your arm should hang down at your side, with your hand just ahead of your hip and your palm facing inward (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, sit into a deep squat: Bend your knees and press your hips further back and down, keeping your weight in your heels and your back flat. Push your chest out very slightly in front of you to counterbalance the weight on your heels. As you descend, allow the dumbbell to descend with you until it touches the floor (see Photos 2 and 3).
  2. When you have reached the depth of the squat, reverse motion and drive up through your heels to return to the starting position (see Photo 4).
  3. Do the recommended numbers of reps on one side, and then switch the dumbbell to the other arm and repeat.
Dumbbell at Shoulder Variation
To increase the difficulty of this exercise, hold the single dumbbell up at your shoulder as you do the squats.

About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.