I'm providing a description of the process of exercising with a dumbbell (from a video). I have come across a point where I've to describe the raising and lowering movement of the dumbbells as such,

Holding it [dumbbell] aloft, he raised and lowered it.

This feels very weird (because I'm going to be using the phrase repeatedly through the description), I'm looking to replace the phrase "raised and lowered" with a single word. Searching for it in a thesaurus yields this but it is of no use.

  • 2
    After you describe an exercise routine once, its repetition is usually called a rep. Multiple instances are reps.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 15:58
  • 1
    By "holding it aloft" do you mean "directly over the head with knees locked and arms fully extended upward" or "off the ground at hip-level with knees locked and arms fully extended downward" (or somewhere in between)? That's perhaps important to know because if it's the former (over the head) the lowering would seem to have to come first (he lowered and [then] raised it [again]).
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 17:47
  • @PapaPoule: Nice catch. By aloft, I mean at shoulder level and arms fully extended in front. Then the next step would be to raise the dumbbells up and bring them down to the same level.
    – user96551
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 18:34
  • In that case, I think @GwenH. ‘s answer (its notion and image) deserves greater consideration than it has received (I’m upvoting it in any case), but I do think, following her lead, that perhaps “arc” as a verb would be understood better: “Holding the dumbbell aloft, he arc[k]ed it up[ward] and then back down again.”
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 19:51
  • It may be more useful to consider what the limbs are doing rather than the resulting effect on the object. The object is going up and down, but are the arms bending up from the elbow, rotating up from the shoulder, from the wrist? Is the dumbbell being raised and lowered by the person bending and straightening their knees, bending from the hips, rising on their toes? All of these cause the dumbbell to be raised and lowered,..
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 16:01

3 Answers 3


He lifted the dumbbell to shoulder height and then pumped it to the arm's full extension five times.

Bafflingly, I am not finding the relevant definition in any dictionary. But pumping involves a repeated back and forth, or up and down, motion. Literally speaking, the purpose is in order to get a system to a certain state, for example, to get enough air into a bicycle tire.

Think of pumping the brake when you hit an icy patch of pavement.


The word you are looking for may be repetition.

From Oxford Dictionaries:

repetition: a training exercise that is repeated, especially a series of repeated raisings and lowerings of the weight in weight training.

Note: I acknowledge that @bib mentioned repetition (and rep) in a comment on the question. I didn't see it. I work with some weightlifters and repetition came immediately to mind.

  • I agree with the use of the word repetition or simply rep, as suggested by @bib Some more context to your video would be useful, but I would perhaps make the description "Holding the dumbbell, perform [one/five/ten] [up and down/down and up] reps", also addressing user Papa Poule's point - perhaps in another exercise you'll want to describe the 'rep' direction as "side-to-side" or "away and back", rather than "up and down".
    – Gonja
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 13:14
  • @Gonja Thanks, good advice. I didn't see bib's comment. I'll add an acknowledgement. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 13:22
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    So. Um. Our answer to the actual question, then, is "Holding the dumbbell aloft, he repetitioned it"?
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 13:42
  • @RegDwigнt I don't think "repped" works either. I need to talk with my weightlifter friends. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 13:54

You could say that "Holding it aloft, he started curling it." Although 'curling' technically only means to raise the dumbbell, it usually implies that it is being lowered as well to perform repetitions.

Curl -(in weight training) lift (a weight) using only the hands, wrists, and forearms.

  • 1
    Doing curls is a specific exercise where the bicep is exercised and is performed by holding the dumbbell in the hand, elbow straight and then bending at the elbow to raise the dumbbell. OP talks about holding the dumbbell aloft which does not seem consistent with curls.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 5:59
  • Whether the phrase "raised and lowered" can be replaced with a single word and whether either can be smoothly repeated are very different questions. No word stands in for "raised and lowered" but "hefted" gets fairly close and does lend itself to repetition. Pedantically, if he starts by holding a dumbbell aloft, he must lower and raise it, which sounds doubly weird. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 0:07

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