Dumbbell Exercises: Overhead Dumbbell Throw

The overhead dumbbell throw is an intense but simple way to use your weights to work on your core and upper body strength. Because the exercise can prove somewhat dangerous to both you and those around you if you don’t take proper precautions, you should familiarize yourself with the basics before you attempt the overhead dumbbell throw.

The Targeted Muscles

The overhead dumbbell throw targets a number of muscles in your upper body and core. Your shoulders and upper arms receive the primary workout, although your spine will become flexed as well, which will work out some of the muscles on your back and abdomen. Your elbow, wrist and fingers will flex during the exercise and your shoulder joint will rotate. Regular workouts that include the overhead weight throw can help you build strength in your upper body.

The Basics of the Exercise

You will need one dumbbell for this overhead throw and you should select a weight that suits your skills. If this is your first time, start with a 5- to 10-pound weight. You can perform this exercise with much larger amounts of weight if you’ve worked your way up to it.

  1. Stand with your legs spread apart just a bit wider than your hips. Keep your knees bent.
  2. Grab your single weight with both hands, one hand above the other on the shaft of the dumbbell. Hold the weight six to ten inches in front of your body at chest height.
  3. Move the weight down so that it passes through your legs slightly (keep your hands on the weight) and bend your back as you do so.
  4. Move the weight back up across the front of your body (keeping it some distance away), all the way above your head as far your arms will extend upwards. You should straighten your knees as the weight gets higher. With this inertia, prepare to literally throw the weight behind you by letting go of the weight once your arms have become fully extended above your head.
  5. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps for one to two sets total.

Safety Tips

The overhead dumbbell throw can potentially hit you and people around you and damage property if you’re not careful. Find an area such as a stretch of grass outdoors or a large, empty padded gym area in which to perform the exercise. Make sure that no one is behind you when you do the overhead throw and have a friend warn people to stay out of your path. Also, be sure to hold onto the weight tightly until it’s all the way over your head.

You can also pull a muscle, so make sure your knees are bent during the exercise until you get ready to throw the weight and that you perform your reps slowly. There’s no need to rush this exercise.

Adding Challenges

Work your way up to additional challenges with this exercise. After a few weeks of regularly performing it, you can do more reps and eventually more sets, making sure not to exceed more than two sets of 15 reps at a go. You can also start adding five pounds to the amount of weight you’re using for the exercise after every few weeks of regular strength training.


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