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The dumbbell comes in all shapes and sizes; from the gym bunny’s favourite 1kg rubber-coated number to a behemoth of a 110kg+ iron-cast circus dumbbell. The core of the event is always the same – lift the dumbbell from the floor to overhead. The exact rules vary from competition to competition, but they usually allow a two-handed “clean” to shoulder height but require the overhead press to be one-handed.

In strongman competitions the dumbbell can be used as a max-weight event, with competitors taking it in turns to lift ever-increasing weights. Alternatively it can be a timed event – either for maximum repetitions or as part of a medley.

While you may be familiar with a dumbbell from your local gym, strongman dumbells are often very different beasts. In particular, circus dumbbells or inch dumbells (named after Thomas Inch) have a very thick handle – often compared to the size of a can of Coke. This can make the lift a lot more difficult, as it is much harder to grip.


Dimitar Savatinov holds the world record with a lift of 143kg, performed at the Ultimate Strongman Summermania. He has held the record for some time now and looks capable of 150kg+

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