How and why the Dumbbell finally made it into CrossFit

When there were dumbbells in 17.1 for the first time, the CrossFit world was shocked. One and a half years later, the dumbbell has become an essential part of CrossFit. In the Open 2018, we had dumbbells for Cleans, Jerks, Squats and Snatches, and it wasn´t even a topic anymore.

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When Castro brought the dumbbell the first time in the CrossFit Open, the criticism came mostly from the affiliate owners who were not equipped for such scenario. It was even the first time in the history of the Open that the CrossFit, Inc. published which movements would appear in a WOD beforehand (after Castro´s traditional Instagram hint post that showed dumbbells, affiliate owners demanded a concrete statement so they could purchase in time).

Back then, I was quite sure that bringing the dumbbell in the Open was something arranged with CrossFit´s most important sponsor Rogue (or maybe second most important after Reebok) to increase their sales in that product segment. And now that everyone has already spent money on dumbbells, they keep programming them so it doesn´t feel like a waste to anyone.

But maybe, second theory: The dumbbell is anothter instrument in CrossFit´s aim to make the Open accessible to really everyone, just like opening the Scaled division in 2016. If you want to sell the competition to everyone 2 weeks into CrossFit training, you actually cannot afford to come up with Olympic Weightlifting. If the grandmother that CrossFit keeps targeting with their Open advertisement doesn´t have to do pull ups and muscle ups, and not even boxjumps or "proper" burpees, but is still asked to snatch a barbell, she still might not be convinced that "this is really for everyone". Snatching a 10 kilo dumbbell - alright, why not? Is that even a "Snatch"?

However, the dumbbell is there to stay. Also here at Set Free CrossFit, we use it on a weekly ish basis. And it not only does benefit Rogue or boost the CrossFit Open. Dumbells clearly have their advantages.


Dumbbell advantages over the Barbell

  • Dumbbells are less intimidating and more beginner friendly than the barbell.
  • There are suitable for unilateral movements and therefore amazing to correct imbalances.
  • Unilateral also means: Good alternative in case of injuries, e.g. at shoulder, ellbow, wrist or hand.
  • Nice change to the barbell - new stimulus for skills such as balance, coordination or agility.
  • You have a dumbbell in every global gym  around the world - a weightlifting bar most likely not. So the dumbbell is the perfect replacement if you want to WOD while being on the road.


 Dumbbell advantages over the Kettlebell

  • Dumbbells are easier to handle than the kettlebell with its very specific load distribution.
  • They are more wrist friendly.
  • They usually come in finer weight increments.