Blog Fitness Workouts Leg Workouts Simple Leg Workouts At Home With Weights (Beginner-Friendly Guide)

Simple Leg Workouts At Home With Weights (Beginner-Friendly Guide)

Bodyweight workouts are great when you’re starting out – they’re simple and require no extra equipment. However, after some time, you might notice your progress stalling.

The concept of progressive overload dictates that to keep developing, your muscles need progressive stimulus. They will adapt to the demands you place on them – it’s all about upping the game to foster continuous growth (8).

This doesn’t mean that you can’t workout at home and see impressive results. In fact, with the right equipment and exercise selection, you can challenge your muscles and achieve great results from the comfort of your own home.

Here’s a simple guide to beginner-friendly leg workouts you can do at home using just a pair of dumbbells to transform your strength training routine.

Can You Build Leg Muscle at Home?

You can build leg muscle at home – all you need is weights that provide enough resistance to stimulate muscle growth, adequate protein and carbohydrates to support muscle repair, and a solid workout routine (5). Bodyweight exercises can also be effective for building leg muscle, but incorporating weights should take your progress to the next level.

The core principle of your leg workouts with weights at home for mass building is to progressively increase the workload over time. By doing so, you will continuously challenge your muscles and promote growth.

You have a few options as far as resistance goes. You can use:


Dumbbells are the most preferable equipment for leg workouts with weights at home for several reasons:

  • They’re relatively inexpensive.
  • Dumbbells come in a range of weights, so you can continuously increase the resistance as your muscles get stronger.
  • They take up minimal space, compared to other larger equipment such as barbells or weight machines.
  • They’re versatile and can be used for a variety of exercises to target different muscle groups in the legs.
  • They can allow for a greater range of motion compared to machines, which can help engage more muscle fibers for better overall growth.

A leg workout with dumbbells and barbells is not the same as one with machines. Dumbbells require more control and balance, engaging your core and other supporting muscles, in addition to your legs.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are another great option for leg workouts at home with weights. These elastic bands come in different resistance levels so you can gradually increase the difficulty as your muscles get stronger (4). They’re also lightweight and portable, making them perfect for home workouts or even when you’re traveling.

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You can incorporate resistance bands into your leg workout routine by using them for exercises such as squats, lunges, and glute bridges. They provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion and are an effective tool for building muscle and strength.

Check out our blog, Resistance Bands Leg Workout, for some sample exercises you can try with resistance bands.

leg workouts at home with weights  

Ankle Weights

Ankle weights strap onto your ankles, adding extra load to exercises such as leg lifts, donkey kicks, and fire hydrants. They can also be used for cardio exercises such as walking or jogging.

While ankle weights may not provide as much resistance as dumbbells or resistance bands, they’re still a useful option for your leg workout routine. They help target specific muscle groups, such as the glutes, and add an extra challenge to bodyweight exercises.

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Is It Good to Put Weights on Your Legs?

Some controversy surrounds the use of ankle weights and whether they are beneficial or harmful for leg workouts. Adding too much weight or using improper form can put unnecessary strain on your joints.

Your focus should always be on maintaining proper form and gradually increasing the weight as your muscles get stronger, rather than using excessive weight all at once.

Adding weights to your legs can be beneficial for building muscle and strength, as long as you use them correctly and safely.

Is It OK to Walk with Ankle Weights?

Walking with ankle weights can be a great way to add resistance to your cardio workout and increase calorie burn. However, there are some precautions to keep in mind.

Firstly, make sure you start with lighter weights and gradually increase the weight as your muscles get used to the added load. 

Secondly, you should avoid using ankle weights if you have any joint pain or discomfort, as this can worsen existing issues. 

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Note: be mindful of your form and focus more on proper technique rather than speed or distance.


The kettlebell is another versatile and compact piece of equipment that can be used for leg workouts at home. It allows for a wide range of exercises, including squats, lunges, deadlifts, and swings.

Unlike dumbbells or resistance bands, the kettlebell’s weight is centered below the handle, which requires more stability and coordination to use effectively. This engages multiple muscle groups in the lower body, which makes it an efficient tool for building leg muscle and strength (6).

Our Kettlebell Leg Workout guide has some great exercises you can try to target your legs and achieve a stronger lower body.

How Can I Work Out My Legs with Weights At Home?

Include these leg exercises with dumbbells for beginners as part of your at-home leg workout routine. This workout starts with compound exercises to target multiple muscle groups, followed by isolation exercises to focus on individual muscles.

1. Front Squat

The Front Squat is a quintessential compound leg exercise that primarily targets the quadriceps while also engaging the glutes, hamstrings, and core for stabilization. 

By positioning weights in front of your body, this places emphasis on the quads and encourages a straighter upright posture, which can help reduce the load placed on the lower back (2). 

It’s well suited for those who are looking to develop strong thighs and improve overall lower body strength. If you’re new to front squats, start with lighter weights to perfect your form before progressing.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands at chest level.
  2. Inhale as you squat down by bending your knees and pushing your hips back as if sitting in a chair.
  3. Keep your chest upright and core engaged throughout the movement.
  4. Push through your whole foot to return to the starting position on your exhale.

2. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a powerful leg builder that intensifies the workout on one leg at a time. It engages major muscle groups such as the quads and glutes, while recruiting the hamstrings and calves to a lesser extent. 

By creating a unilateral challenge, this causes an imbalance that demands more from your core and stabilizing muscles. It’s effective for athletes and gym-goers who are aiming to correct muscular imbalances and individuals who want to enhance single-leg strength (5).

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If you’re just starting out, make sure to find your balance and establish coordination before you add heavy weights.

  1. Stand about two feet in front of a bench or stable surface, facing away from it.
  2. Place one foot on the bench behind you.
  3. Inhale and lower your hips until your front thigh is almost parallel to the ground, making sure your front knee tracks in line with your midfoot.
  4. Drive through the front heel to return to the starting position as you exhale.

Read more: Leg Workouts With Dumbbells: Shred Your Leg Muscles Through A Mix Of Dynamic Moves

3. Deadlift

The Deadlift is a comprehensive exercise that primarily works the posterior chain, which includes the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It engages these major muscles and also requires the engagement of core and forearm muscles to maintain proper form. 

By lifting and lowering the weights, this causes the muscles to adapt to tension, ensuring growth and strength gains. It’s suited for both beginners and advanced individuals who are seeking to improve overall body strength (3). 

If you’re new to deadlifts, focus on the hinge movement from your hips with a minimal knee bend to protect your back.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in front of your thighs.
  2. Inhale as you hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly to lower the dumbbells along your legs.
  3. Keep your back flat and core tight as you lower down.
  4. Use your glutes and hamstrings to return to standing while you’re exhaling, driving your hips forward.

leg workouts at home with weights  

4. Walking Lunges

Walking Lunges are a dynamic compound exercise that works several muscle groups simultaneously, including the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They also involve the core for balance and stability. By stepping forward and lunging, this engages muscles through both concentric and eccentric motions. It’s suited for those who are aiming to improve functional lower body strength and mobility (1). If you’re just getting started, practice the lunging motion without weights first to establish your form.

  1. Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand by your sides.
  2. Step forward with one leg, inhaling while you lower your hips to lower your back knee toward the ground.
  3. Make sure your front knee is aligned over your ankle and your toes are pointing forward.
  4. Exhale as you push through your front heel to stand up and step forward into a lunge with the opposite leg.
See also
Bulgarian Split Squat Muscles Worked: A Comprehensive Guide To Proper Form And Activation

5. Stiff-Legged Deadlift

The Stiff-Legged Deadlift zeroes in on hamstring and glute development. It engages these major muscles intensely by requiring them to work hard during the hinging motion. In addition, this exercise helps improve hip mobility and hamstring flexibility.

It’s suitable for individuals who are looking to target their posterior chain muscles specifically. If you’re new to the motion, strive for control over the range of motion rather than speed or heavy weights.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing your body.
  2. With a slight bend in your knees, inhale and hinge forward at the hips, lowering the dumbbells toward the ground, and keeping them in contact with your legs or close to your body.
  3. Keep your back straight and core engaged, sliding the weights down as far as flexibility allows without rounding your back.
  4. Reverse the motion to come back up as you exhale, squeezing your glutes at the top.

6. Calf Raises

Calf Raises are an isolation exercise that targets the calf muscles, which include the gastrocnemius and soleus. By elevating your heels off the ground, this causes these muscles to contract and work against gravity.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Push through the balls of your feet to raise your heel as high as possible on your exhale.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower back down as you inhale.
  4. Repeat the motion, keeping your core engaged and controlling the descent.

7. Single-Leg Deadlift

The Single-Leg Deadlift is an isolation exercise that focuses on the hamstrings and glutes of the working leg, while also engaging the core muscles for balance. By standing on one leg and hinging at the hip, this causes the stabilizing muscles to work harder, promoting stability and unilateral strength. It’s suitable for individuals who hope to enhance coordination and muscle symmetry.

  1. Stand on one leg, holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand.
  2. Hinging at the waist, inhale and lower the dumbbell towards the ground, extending your free leg behind you for balance.
  3. Keep a slight bend in the standing leg and maintain a straight back.
  4. Return to a standing position by driving through your planted foot as you exhale and focusing on using your hamstring and glutes to generate the required force.
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Are Leg Workouts at Home with Weights Worth It?

Leg workouts at home with weights are worth it because they (9):

  • Build muscular strength and endurance in the lower body
  • Improve balance, coordination, and overall functional fitness
  • Allow for a variety of exercises to target different muscle groups
  • Can be done with minimal equipment using items such as dumbbells or resistance bands
  • Offer convenience and flexibility for those who prefer working out at home

Read more: Benefits Of Leg Workouts, Or Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Leg Day

Can I Train My Legs at Home Without Equipment?

You can train your legs at home without equipment by getting a solid calisthenics workout.

Calisthenics exercises are bodyweight exercises that use your own body weight as resistance to build strength and muscle. They require minimal equipment, if any at all, and can be done anywhere.

Effective calisthenics leg exercises include:

  • Squats: bodyweight squats, jump squats, pistol squats
  • Lunges: walking lunges, reverse lunges, curtsy lunges
  • Glute bridges: single-leg bridges, elevated glute bridges
  • Calf raises: standing calf raises, single-leg calf raises
  • Step-ups: lateral step-ups, box jumps

In addition to these exercises, you can incorporate plyometric movements such as burpees or mountain climbers to add a cardio element to your leg workout.

In our Calisthenics Leg Workout blog post, we discuss how beneficial leg exercises are for overall fitness in more detail, even if you’re a beginner who can’t lift heavy weights.

leg workouts at home with weights  


  • What is a good leg day schedule?

A good leg day schedule is one that allows for proper rest and recovery while also challenging your muscles enough to promote growth and progress.

Here’s a sample leg day schedule you can follow:

  • Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretches or light cardio
  • Compound exercises: 3 sets x 12 reps of squats, deadlifts, lunges
  • Isolation exercises: 3 sets x 12 reps of calf raises, hamstring curls, leg extensions
  • Finisher: 3 sets x 10-20 reps of jump squats or other plyometric movements
  • Cool-down: 5-10 minutes of static stretches
  • How often should I do leg day?

You should have leg day at least once a week, but ideally, it would be twice a week to allow for more frequency and volume in your leg workouts. 

Splitting up your leg exercises into two separate days also allows for proper rest and recovery of specific muscle groups. For example, you can focus on compound movements such as squats and deadlifts on one day and isolation exercises such as calf raises and hamstring curls on the other.

Don’t overtrain! If you feel that your muscles need more rest between leg workouts, adjust accordingly. With that in mind, it’s recommended to have at least one or two rest days between leg day sessions.

  • Do weights slim your legs?

Using weights may not directly slim your legs, as spot reduction is not possible. However, incorporating weights into your leg workouts can help build muscle mass and strength in your lower body. This can lead to a more defined and toned appearance in the legs, which can eventually influence body composition and in turn, slimmer and more defined legs.

In addition, resistance training with weights can increase metabolism and help with weight loss overall, which may also contribute to slimming in the legs.

Remember that diet and overall body fat percentage also play a significant role in achieving slimmer legs, so it’s important to maintain an appropriate calorie deficit while incorporating weights into your leg workouts.

  • How heavy should ankle weights be?

Ankle weights should be chosen based on your fitness level and the exercise you plan to do with them.

As a general rule, beginners can start with 1-2 pounds per ankle, while more advanced individuals can use up to 5 pounds per ankle.

Never exceed 10 pounds per ankle, as this can put too much strain on your joints and increase the risk of injury.

It’s also important to gradually increase the weight as you progress to avoid overloading muscles and causing excessive soreness.

The Bottom Line

Leg workouts at home with weights are a great way to build lower body strength and improve functional fitness. They can be done using dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. A good leg day schedule should include a warm-up, compound exercises, isolation exercises, and a cool-down.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 11 Benefits of Doing Lunges Regularly (2022,
  2. A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals (2009,
  3. Deadlifts – The many benefits (2019,
  4. Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2019,
  5. Muscle activity of Bulgarian squat. Effects of additional vibration, suspension and unstable surface (2019,
  6. Kettlebell Exercise as an Alternative to Improve Aerobic Power and Muscle Strength (2019,
  7. Muscle growth and exercise (1990,
  8. Progression of volume load and muscular adaptation during resistance exercise (2010,
  9. What Are the Benefits of Leg Workout? (2022,
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