Bodyweight exercises are good for you, but if you want to push yourself, you need to add more resistance to your workout. That is where equipment like dumbbells comes in. Leg workouts with dumbbells are more effective as they help you increase your progress significantly, as well as better your results by making your lower body workouts more functional.
A good leg workout should have all the basic compound movements. When a leg workout includes a variety of functional movements, you are able to work the major leg muscle groups like your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Leg workouts are mostly done to strengthen your legs, so make sure your set of exercises challenges you and puts your leg muscles through the wringer.
Most people, even regular gym-goers, tend to miss leg day, thinking it is not important. In order for your workouts to be all rounded, you need to work out your lower body as much as you work out your upper body. A strong lower body is essential for performance, hence you should make sure you pay it enough attention during your workouts.
Why Should You Use Dumbbells For Leg Workouts?
There are so many reasons as to why you should add dumbbells to your leg workouts. The first reason for adding dumbbells to your leg day is the fact that dumbbells are cheap (4). The prices for other equipment are astronomical but, fortunately, this is not the case when it comes to dumbbells as they are cheap and you can buy them at virtually any sporting goods store.
Secondly, dumbbells have a wide range of motion compared to other equipment, and this makes them an effective equipment for working out (4). Most machines limit your range of motion to the predetermined track they are set on. On the other hand, barbels are quite large, too heavy, and are hard to move around as much as you might want. This is not the case with dumbbells as they are easy to move around. Dumbbells can thus be used in many different ways in your leg workout. They make it possible to target your lower body muscles from all angles for better results.
Dumbells are perfect for focusing on unilateral strength as you might favor one side more than the other (4). They are also effective when it comes to stabilizing your muscles, and this helps to build your overall strength and balance.
Which Is The Right Weight For Dumbbells For Leg Workouts?
Dumbbells come in different weights. There are heavy dumbbells, and there are lighter ones. When you add dumbbells to your leg workouts, the aim is usually to increase resistance or the challenge in your leg workout. While that might be the goal, you don’t want to overdo it as putting too much resistance might increase your chances of getting injured. You don’t also want to add too little weight that there is no difference between the leg workouts with or without dumbbells. There is only one rule that you should keep in mind when it comes to choosing the right weight; you should be able to control the weight you choose, the weight should not be the one to control you (4).
The weight you choose should depend on the movements involved in your workout session. If your workout session is composed more of unilateral movements, examples being step-ups and lunges, you should go for light to mid-sized weights (4). Movements that challenge your balance and proprioception should not be done with heavy loads. For exercises like squats and deadlifts, you can use heavy dumbbells (4).
Before you go adding the different weights to your workouts, make sure you first know how to do the exercises properly (4). Keeping the right form is important in injury prevention. Once you know how to do the exercise properly, start with a small weight as you increase the weight as you get more used to the exercise.
Best Leg Workouts With Dumbbells
Since now you know why you should add dumbbells to your leg exercises and how to choose the right weights, here are some home leg workouts with dumbbells:
How to do it (6):
- You first start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart. Then take your dumbbells and hold one at each shoulder.
- The next step is to slowly bend your knees into a position that resembles sitting in a chair. While doing this, make sure all the weight is in your heels. Do not let your knees move in front of your toes, and don’t let them roll in or out. Go as low as you can possibly go keeping your head and chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed.
- By pressing through your heels, gently straighten your legs to stand up. Make sure you keep your spine in a neutral position while doing all this. Do not round your back.
- Aim to do sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Single-Leg Deadlift To Reverse Lunge
This exercise works your hip hinge by using the deadlift component of the workout and the squat movement. It is known to help improve your balance.
How to do it (2):
- You begin by standing with your feet together while holding a dumbbell in each hand. You should hold the dumbbells in front of your legs.
- Then shift your weight to your left leg while keeping a slight bend in your left knee. Raise your right leg straight behind your body, hinging at the hips to bring your torso to a position parallel to the ground, and then lower the weight towards the ground.
- Make sure to keep your back flat. Your torso and the right leg should be almost parallel to the ground at the bottom of the movement, with the weight just a few inches from the floor.
- While keeping your core tight, push up using your left heel to stand up straight and pull the weight to the initial position. Bring the right-left back down to meet your left leg. Hold that position for a couple of seconds as you squeeze your butt.
- Then step back into a reverse lunge with your right foot, landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your heel off the ground. Then bend both of your knees to create two right angles with your legs.
- Push through your left heel to return to the standing position. That counts as 1 repetition.
- Aim to do 8 – 12 reps before switching sides.
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Bulgarian Split Squat
This is a variation of the split squat but with both feet on the ground. It works the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It is effective when it comes to building muscle in the lower body, increasing overall strength and increasing your balance and coordination.
How to do it (3):
- Start by picking up a pair of dumbbells. Then take the toes of your left foot and place them on a raised surface. It can be a bench, a stair, a chair. While doing all this, make sure your right leg remains straight. You should also make sure your right foot is out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.
- Then bend your right knee, squeeze your left glute and lower your pelvis towards the floor.
- Press your right heel to the ground to straighten your right knee. This counts as one repetition.
5 O’Clock Lunge
How to do it: (2)
- First, stand with your feet at hip-width apart. Then take one dumbbell and hold it with both hands right in front of your chest. Make sure your palms are facing each other, and your elbows are bent. This is the original starting position.
- The next thing you need to do is take a big step to the side with your right foot while rotating away from your body clockwise towards the 5’Oclock position.
- While keeping your left leg straight, left foot flexed and your chest lifted, bend your right knee and push your butt back to lower into a lateral lunge.
- Then push through your right leg heel to stand and rotate back to the start position. That counts as 1 rep.
- Aim to do 12 – 15 reps on one side, then switch sides and repeat every step with the other side.
This exercise is usually done with a kettlebell, but kettlebells and dumbbells can be used exchangeably.
How to do it: (6)
- Grab your weight ( dumbbells ), then cup it with both your hands directly under your chin.
- With your feet at shoulder-width apart, squat down as far as possible. Make sure not to curve your back or let your knees come too far forward while doing all this.
- As long as you keep the dumbbells close to your body, you should be able to maintain the right form when doing this exercise.
- The next step is pushing up straight back to the standing position.
This is a great exercise for building overall strength and stability of your lower body. It also helps reduce any muscle imbalances as well as improve your core. It mainly works the hips, hamstrings, and the quads.
How to do it: (1)
- You begin by standing straight with the dumbbells in each hand. Your palms should be facing your body. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Then take a step forward with one leg while bending the stationary foot until the knee touches the ground. While doing all this, you should make sure your back is straight.
- Hold that position for a few seconds and then push yourself back up to the starting position.
It should be noted that this exercise requires you to have good balance. When trying it, be careful so as not to get injured.
Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
This exercise is similar to the dumbbell lunge, with the only difference being that with this exercise you go backwards instead of going forward.
How to do it: (5)
- Begin by standing straight and holding a dumbbell in each hand. You can hang the weights at your sides, or you can lift them up to your shoulders, it all depends on what you prefer.
- Then take your left leg and move it a few inches back. Keep the right leg stationary.
- Then lower yourself into a lunge until both knees are bent to 90 degrees. Your left knee should be hanging just above the floor, and your right knee should be right over your right ankle.
- Hold that position for a few seconds before pushing through your right leg to go back to the original standing position.
- Repeat on the other side.
How to do it: (7)
- You begin by standing straight with your feet slightly wider apart than your hip distance.
- Then take one dumbbell and hold it by its end.
- Hinge from your hips and bend your knees while reaching the dumbbell back between your legs. Make sure to keep your back flat and your core engaged while doing all this.
- Thrust your hips forward so that you can create enough force to swing your dumbbells to about the shoulder height and then down again to the start.
- This is one repetition.
- Repeat the same steps for 30 seconds and take a 15-second rest before moving on to the next move.
Weighted Glute Bridge
How to do it: (2)
- You start by lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Then hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the dumbbells right under your hip bones. This is the original starting position.
- The next step is to squeeze your glutes and abs and push through your heels to lift your hips just a few inches from the ground. While doing this, make sure your body makes a straight line all the way from your shoulders to your knees.
- Hold that position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips to return to the original starting position. That counts as one rep.
- Aim for 8 to 12 reps.
Dumbbell Sumo Squat
How to do it: (6)
- You start by standing with your feet wide and your toes pointing out. Then take a pair of dumbbells and hold them in front of your chest.
- Then bend your knees by lowering your hips so deeply that your thighs are in a position that is parallel to the ground. While doing all this, make sure to keep your weight back in your heels.
- Then rise back up, straightening the legs completely and squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement to get the most out of this exercise.
- That counts as one repetition.
How to do it: (6)
- Start by bringing both dumbbells just above your shoulders.
- With bent elbows, bring down your right knee. Then bring down your left knee so that you are now kneeling down.
- The next step is to lift your right foot up and place it in front of you. Bring your left foot forward as you stand up.
- This counts as one repetition.
The Bottom Line
Those are some of the best leg workouts with dumbbells you can try without having to leave the comfort of your own home. Remember to start with lighter dumbbells and go adding the weight as you become more used to the exercise. Always maintain the right form during the exercise to prevent injury. It is essential to warm up first before you start any of these exercises as it is recommended to work your muscles when they are a bit loose and warming up helps achieve just that. Before you do any of these exercises, it is important to consult an expert. They will recommend the best leg workouts with dumbbells for YOU.
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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!
- 5 Powerful Dumbbell Workouts for Strong Legs (2019, sportskeeda.com)
- A Dumbbell Leg Workout That’ll Smoke Your Quads, Hamstrings, and Glutes (2020, self.com)
- For Strong, Powerful Legs, Trainers Love These 10 Muscle-Building Dumbbell Exercises (2019, popsugar.co.uk)
- How To Put Together a Dumbbell Leg Workout That Will Take Any Leg Day Up a Notch (2020, wellandgood.com)
- The Only 8 Dumbbell Exercises You Need for Powerful Legs (2020, livestrong.com)
- These Are the 18 Best Dumbbell Leg Exercises — Expect to Be Sore Tomorrow! (2020, popsugar.com)
- This Dumbbell Leg Workout Takes Just 10 Minutes But Targets Your Entire Lower Body (2020, womenshealthmag.com)