Bodyweight movements are more than enough to help improve your lower body functional movement and strength. But if you’re looking to enhance any at-home workout, adding extra resistance through weights is an effective way to do so.
As far as simplicity goes, dumbbells are hard to beat when it comes to adding extra weight to your favourite movements and exercises.
Available in a variety of weights, or as adjustable sets, you can hold a pair of dumbbells to create additional resistance during popular bodyweight movements like squats, to add progression. It’s best to start light and slowly increase the weight over time to naturally build up the strength in your muscles.
As well as chest, back and arm workouts, dumbbells lend themselves very well to leg workouts. In fact, dumbbells featured highly in our recent review of the best home equipment for training your glutes.
In this workout guide, we outline a simple dumbbell leg workout for beginners, that is easy to adapt based on your fitness level. To increase the difficulty, either; select a heavier dumbbell, increase the intensity, or increase the amount of repetitions/sets.
This at-home leg workout is designed to build strength and power in your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. It can be adapted to anyone by simply selecting appropriately weighted dumbbells. You can also adjust the number of repetitions and sets to suit your fitness level.
These dumbbell exercises will also engage the core and help improve your overall stability, as well as increasing muscle development. Resistance training also helps to burn calories and support weight loss goals too.
Before you follow along to this workout, make sure you have stretched and warmed-up. The hamstrings in particular often need “waking up” to avoid any injury or suffering from the DOMS the next day.
|Dumbbell Goblet Squat||6-12||3|
|Dumbbell Straight Leg Deadlift||6-12||3|
|Dumbbell Split Lunge||6-12||2|
|Dumbbell Calf Raises||6-12||3|
How to Perform Each Exercises
Dumbbell Goblet Squat
- Stand upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Hold a single dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest. Keep this dumbbell still for the whole movement. You may find it more comfortable to hold the end of the dumbbell with your wrists bent back.
- Lower yourself into a deep squat and pause for a moment.
- Push through the floor to power yourself back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for repetitions.
Dumbbell Single Straight Leg Deadlift
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand (or just with one hand if you prefer).
- Plant your right foot firmly on the ground and lift your left foot up.
- Keep both your legs straight, but don’t lock the knees.
- Hinge at the hips to lean forward so your torso is parallel to the ground.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat with your left foot firmly on the ground.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Lower yourself into a deep squat so the dumbbell touch the floor.
- Push through the floor to raise yourself up and catch the dumbbells on your shoulders as you return to a deep squat.
- Rest the dumbbells on your shoulders for a moment before pushing yourself up into an upright position.
- Drop the dumbbells to your side and repeat the movement.
Dumbbell Split Lunge
- Stand with the feet shoulder with apart.
- Keep your chest upright and step foward with your left leg. Bend both knees so your right knee touches the floor. You may prefer to rest your trailing leg on a raised surface like a bench.
- Squeeze your quads and glutes to raise your body back up.
- Repeat on the other leg.
Dumbbell Calf Raises
- Stand with your feet shoulder with apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- With your legs straight, lift your heels off the floor.
- Hold for a moment before lowering your heels back to the floor.
- Repeat for repetitions.
Benefits of Dumbbells for Leg Workouts
Don’t let the simplicity of dumbbells fool you, they are hard to beat when it comes to benefits.
Dumbbells fall into the category of “free weights” and encourage very natural movements. Unlike some gym machines, dumbbells will engage all your supporting muscles to keep the weights stable during any lifts.
This also means your core will likely be more engaged during the exercises than on comparable leg exercise machines too. This helps to promote better balance and stability (as well as the aesthetic benefits of having toned abs!)
If you use adjustable dumbbells, it’s also very easy to change up the weight and increase resistance after a set. When you are doing different exercises, you may find the amount you can lift varies (i.e. you can probably deadlift more than you can squat), so dumbbells make this easy to adapt to. This is ideal for HIIT workouts or circuit training.
Selecting the Right Dumbbells for Your Leg Workout
The success of this leg workout relies on using the right kind of dumbbells. Using dumbbells that are too heavy will mean you struggle to finish the repetitions, but using dumbbells that are too light will mean you don’t overload the muscles to engage muscle growth.
For help deciding what weight is right for you, try to select a weight in which you feel in control at all times but also challenged. If you don’t feel like you have control, then the weight is likely too heavy for you.
Our buyer’s guide on the best dumbbells for women includes some of the most popular choices this year, including ones we use ourselves here at fitness drum.