• You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.

Single Dumbbell Straight-Arm Snatch

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.

A "snatch" is a weightlifting term that refers to lifting a dumbbell or other weight from down near (or in some cases on) the floor to an arms-extended position overhead in a single, fluid motion. Serious weightlifters love snatches for their full-body-workout potential and have been practicing them for time immemorial. The single dumbbell straight-arm snatch primarily works the legs and shoulders, but also hits your core by forcing you to engage your front and backsides to keep the dumbbell moving in one continuous arc of motion.

Muscles Worked

Starting Position
Stand with a single dumbbell held in one hand and your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbell so that your arm is hanging straight down and your palm is facing inward. Squat down until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, holding the weighted arm between your legs. Keep your head up and your back straight; do not hunch over. Hold your other arm off to the outside of your leg to help counterbalance the weight of the dumbbell (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, use a pelvic hip thrust and explosive legs to push up out of the squat while simultaneously lifting the dumbbell up in an arc until you are holding it straight above your head. Keep your dumbbell arm straight throughout this motion to maintain the arc and focus the training on the shoulders. Keep your other arm held at your side throughout the movement (see Photos 2, 3 and 4).
  2. From the top of the arc, reverse the motion and simultaneously bring the dumbbell down between your legs while lowering yourself back into the starting squat position. Use your legs to catch the dumbbell on the way down, just as they propel the dumbbell on the upward movement. Do 12 repetitions with one arm, then switch arms and repeat (see Photo 3).
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.