The Dumbbell Walk

by Al Myers

Darren Barnhart, of the Dino Gym, performing the Dumbbell Walk last Saturday at the Dino Gym.

Often in the Dino Gym when the workouts are over, different odd training toys get pulled out for impromptu challenges.  This happened the other day in the gym with an official USAWA lift, the Dumbbell Walk.  The Dumbbell Walk is one of the most unique and strange lifts in the USAWA Rulebook.  Years ago when I first read the rules on it, I thought “now there’s an odd one”.  This lift is surrounded with mystery.  How did it come about?  I took a little time and looked through all my collection of back Strength Journals, books, and other mostly irrelevant strength information.  I could not find one single bit of research on it!  Who came up with it?   It was one of the original lifts in the USAWA, meaning it was part of the group of lifts that got “adopted” with the first rules were adopted.  It is an official IAWA lift as well as is included in the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.

The rules for the Dumbbell Walk are as follows from the USAWA Rulebook:

A distance of 10 feet will be marked out on a surface before the walk. The dumbbell and lifter must be behind the line at the start. The handle of the dumbbell must be 3 ½ inches in diameter. The lifter must hold the dumbbell with one hand only. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. It is recommended to straddle the dumbbell during the walk, however, the lifter may carry it to the side. Once the lifter lifts the dumbbell and begins the walk, the dumbbell must not touch the walking surface before the finish line or it will be a disqualification. The dumbbell may be lifted to any height during the walk, but it must always be hanging at arm’s length downwards. The lifter must put the dumbbell down under control completely past the finish line for the walk to be complete. The non-lifting hand must not touch the dumbbell or lifting hand and arm during the walk. The non-lifting hand may be placed on other parts of the body. It is acceptable for the dumbbell to accidentally touch the legs or body during the walk, provided it does not aid in the walk.

This is the 3.5" dumbbell handle that must be used for the Dumbbell Walk.

This is one of only two USAWA lifts where a distance must be covered in the execution of the lift (can you name the other?).   It has been contested only once in USAWA competition – at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.  Only myself and training partner Darren Barnhart have a USAWA Record in the Dumbbell Walk.  At this record day a Challenge ensued between us and Darren edged me out, 100 pounds to 95 pounds.  I’m pretty sure the reason the Dumbbell Walk has not been contested more often in competition is due to the special dumbbell required, with the 3.5″ diameter.

This is an outstanding grip exercise.  I think I might even put it in next year’s Grip Challenge at the Dino Gym.  It is also one of those grip exercises where when you add just a little bit more, say only 5 pounds, and the exercise goes from easy to impossible!

This is a YouTube Video of Darren performing the Dumbbell Walk with 100 pounds at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.