If you’re looking for an exercise that combines ab work and cardio training, I highly recommend you try out the hay baler exercise. It is one of my favorite selections to add to workouts that are designed to get your heartrate up while working as many muscles as possible!

The Benefits of the Hay Baler Exercise

I spilled some of the tea in the introduction, so you already know that the hay baler exercise targets your abs (your obliques to be more specific) and can be used as a cardio exercise. That’s not all though. This move also:

  • Engages your shoulder muscles and your biceps for a solid arm sculpt
  • Works most of the muscles in your back
  • Turns on your glutes and inner thighs
  • Increases mobility in your hips and back

Is it any wonder why I love it so much? Perhaps you will too once you find out how to do it.

How to Do the Dumbbell Hay Baler

The hay baler can be performed using a variety of equipment types. The dumbbell is my go-to for this move because most people have a set at home. Plus, you can easily find one at hotel gyms when you’re traveling.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. Begin standing in an athletic position, holding your dumbbell sideways to the side of your left hip or thigh.
  2. With your abdominals and glutes engaged, swing the dumbbell across your body and up to the right. Make sure to pivot your feet and rotate your hips while you do this. You will look as if you are reaching to the side to place something on a high shelf.
  3. Slow the momentum by bracing your abdominals, glutes, and back muscles. Then swing the dumbbell in reverse (to the left and down), back to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for the designated number of repetitions.

If you’re trying this exercise for the first time, I recommend you go slowly to avoid injury. Once you get the hang of it, you can pick up the pace and/or increase the weight of your dumbbell for added cardio and strength benefits.

Video Demonstrations

Ooooh, looky here! I have two video demonstrations for you today. Check them both out to see if one might be a better choice for your goals.

Bodyweight Exercise Demo

I am a huge fan of testing something out in your body before you go all in. The bodyweight option is actually awesome for mobility purposes and for total beginners.

Hay Baler with a Dumbbell

Here’s your dumbbell hay baler exercise, straight up.

How to Add the Hay Baler Exercise to Your Routine

Now that you know how to do the hay baler exercise and you’ve tried it out in your body, you’re probably wondering where to put it! When I create programs for myself or my clients, I include moves like this in one or more of the following types of workouts:

  • Core and cardio workouts
  • Upper Body days
  • HIIT Training
  • Sports-specific agility training
  • Full Body workouts

For best results, use the dumbbell hay bailer consistently 1-2x a week for 4-6 weeks. After that, if you’re craving variety, this move can be swapped out for an exercise with similar muscular targets and movement patterns. I’ve got a ton of exercise demos on my YouTube Channel. Click here to head over and check them out.

Good Luck,


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