If you’ve been looking for the perfect dumbbell leg workout, you are in the right place.
Often times, we get caught up in routine movements and even though one may improve upon the regular squats, leg presses and leg extensions, diversity is needed.
Not only will a repetitive leg workout get boring, but it may also rob you of potential progress.
Think about it – There are a TON of angles at which your lower body can move, so why limit yourself to just a couple?
In this article, we’re going to show you the very best dumbbell leg workouts for men and women, which you can include in your training regimen.
The Perfect Dumbbell Leg Workout For Muscle Gains
So, how can I train my legs with dumbbells?
Well, this workout will target every single muscle of your lower body, not just the quadriceps!
Remember that a complete lower body is only possible with proper development of all muscle groups:
- The quadriceps
Now let’s get to it, shall we?
1. DB Jump squats
Rest time: 90 seconds between sets
This first exercise is a more explosive movement, meaning that you will properly activate the muscle fibers in your entire lower body.
The dumbbell jump squat primarily targets the quadriceps, but the dynamic portion of the movement also involves the glutes and calves.
If you have not warmed up well, it is recommended that you start with 1-2 sets of bodyweight jump squats.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and keep them by your sides
- Place your feet at shoulder width and keep your torso straight
- Open the toes out slightly and maintain a stable position
- Squat down until your legs are parallel to the ground
- Jump up explosively, initially pushing through the heel and then through the toes for the jump
- Land on your toes and then back part of your feet
2. Dumbbell walking lunges
Reps: 12 per side
Rest time: 90 seconds between sets
This second exercise in our dumbbell leg workout for muscle growth is a classsical one, which will realize one of the more important principles in bodybuilding training – Constant tension.
The nature of this movement does not allow you to use momentum and cheat, meaning that every bit of tension is going to the lower body!
This exercise will highly engage the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.
- Take a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
- Place your feet closer than shoulder width and look forward
- Take a big step forward with your right leg
- Lunge down, without hitting your opposite knee in the ground
- Move up and directly into a step with the opposite foot
- Repeat the pattern – Right, left, right, left
3. DB Bulgarian split squat
Reps: 12-15 per side
Rest time: 60-90 seconds between sets
One of the most important things to include in your dumbbell leg workout for muscle routine, is a uni-lateral movement.
Doing movements on a single side will help you even out any functional and visual disbalances.
This will ultimately account for a better, more aesthetic visual appeal and better function performance-wise.
- Take a pair of dumbbells and stand with your back against the side of a bench
- Step forward a bit, then place the toes of your right foot on the bench
- Keep the torso straight and lunge down on the opposite leg
- Push up, then repeat
- Once done with the left leg, do the same on the opposite side
- Remember to keep your torso straight
4. DB One leg hip thrust
Reps: 15 per side
Rest time: 60-90 seconds
Though the glutes are highly involved in all of the movements so far, it is recommended that you pay individual attention to them!
Hip extension movements are the best, when the task at hand is to target and activate the glutes.
- Take a relatively heavy dumbbell and sit on the side of a bench
- Lie on the side of the bench with your upper back
- Take a couple of steps forward and let your hips hang
- Place the dumbbell on your lower abs/groin
- Lift one leg off the ground and keep the balance on the opposite leg
- Lower your hips slowly
- Extend up, contracting the glute up top
- Once done with one side, do the same on the opposite side
5. DB One leg calf raise
Rest time: 60-90 seconds between sets
A proper lower body workout is nothing, without a calf finisher. Especially for men looking for a dumbbell leg workout for muscle gains.
You often hear that calves are something you either have or you don’t, but that is not an excuse to skip training them!
Everyone can develop their own calves to the best extent possible.
- Take a relatively heavy dumbbell and step with one foot on an edge
- Hold on to something for balance
- Dip your heel down slowly, stretching the calves
- Push up through the toes, contracting the calves
- Hold the peak flexion briefly and then come back down
- Repeat the movement pattern
The 10 best Dumbell Leg exercises
Hey, listen, if you don’t like the leg workout we gave you above, worry not.
We have selected 10 other exercises to include in your dumbbell leg workout at home, so feel free to substitute anything you don’t like!
1. DB Goblet squat
The DB goblet squat is a perfect substitute to regular barbell squats, which place a lot of tension on the spine.
Changing the center of tension, this movement is the perfect spine-protecting, lower body-blasting choice.
- Take a dumbbell and hold it with both arms in front of your chest
- Place your feet at shoulder width with toes slightly pointing out
- Keep your back straight and look forward
- Squat down, until your legs are parallel to the ground
- Move up, pushing through the heel and mid portion of your feet
- Contract the glutes up top
2. DB Sumo squat
When we talk about lower body development, we cannot exclude the development of your glutes, as they give a complete look of the lower body.
The DB sumo squat is a perfect glute exercise, which will highly engage the entire lower body and furthermore, give you more mobility.
Furthermore, this is the perfect exercise for a dumbbell leg workout at home.
- Grab a dumbbell and hold it with both arms in front of you
- Step wider than shoulder width and open your toes out
- Keep torso straight and look forward
- Squat down to a comfortable depth
- Move up, driving the tension through the heel/mid foot
- Contract the glutes up top and hold flexion briefly
3. DB Single leg deadlift
This next exercise will target the hamstrings and glutes, uni-laterally and will furthermore, give the calves a good stretch.
Besides that, your lower back is a dynamist in this movement, so it will also get a good deal of work going on.
- Take a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight, stably
- Stand on your right foot only and bend the knee very slightly
- Maintain that position
- Bend over, reaching for the ground with the dumbbells and maintaining straight torso
- At the bottom, you’re going to feel a stretch
- Move up to the initial position and contract the glute at the top
- Once done with the right side, do the same on the left
4. DB Romanian deadlift
If you are looking to dive into hamstring & glute work, the romanian deadlift is a perfect choice for that specific goal.
Granting a big range of motion, this exercise will demolish your posterior chain and is a good exercise to practise if you can’t get the hang of one-sided db deadlifts.
The romanian deadlift makes for an amazing addition to a dumbbell leg workout for men and women.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up
- Keep your feet closer than shoulder width with toes pointing forward
- Bend your knees slightly
- Keep torso straight
- Bend over slowly, stretching the back side of your legs
- Move up at a faster pace, contracting the glutes up top
5. DB Swing
The DB swing is a compound movement that is primarily based around hip extension, meaing that it targets the glutes
Nevertheless, this is a perfect overall exercise to include in your dumbbell leg workout at home, as it also engages the shoulders, lower back and legs
- Grab a dumbbell and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
- Hold the dumbbell with both hands in front of you
- Bend over and squat slightly, to get the dumbbell between your legs and right below the butt
- Come back up, extending the hip and lifting the dumbbell up
- Repeat and try to use as little momentum as possible
Finding this leg exercise to be hard? Check out this video for complete execution.
6. Front to back DB Lunges
If you are looking to develop more stability and balance overall, the front to back DB lunge is a great pick to add in your routine!
This exercise allows us to work on both the front and the back plane, assuring that no fiber will be left unactivated.
The movement can shape a perfect dumbbell leg workout for muscle building!
- Get a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
- Hold the dumbbells by your sides
- Take a big step forward with your right leg
- Lunge down carefully, without hitting your knee
- Come back up, then step back with the same leg
- Lunge down, come back up and step forward
- Do this on both legs
7. DB Box step-up
If you hate climbing stairs, this is the perfect exercise choice to make this daily task feel easier.
The DB box step-up will target the quadriceps and glutes, while also secondarily involving the hamstrings
- Take a pair of dumbbells and stand in front of a box
- Step on the box, keeping the torso straight
- Push up through the heel and mid-foot
- Once you’re on the box with one leg, come back down carefully
- Repeat on the opposite leg
- Alternate between legs
8. DB Overhead squat
What’s a good dumbbell leg workout at home without some advanced movements?
If you’re stiff in the shoulder area and need more lower body development as well, the overhead DB squat is a good pick.
This exercise can be included as an auxiliary movement and can also be done with a barbell once you advance.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
- Place feet at shoulder width with toes slightly pointing out
- Bend knees slightly and lift the dumbbells overhead
- Squat down to a comfortable depth where you don’t lose balance
- Come back up, driving the tension through the heels and mid portion of your feet
9. DB Box jump
This next movement is much like the previous one, with the only exception it is not uni-lateral and is more dynamic.
Not only will the box jump make your legs look better, but it will also improve your strength and explosiveness.
If you find it hard to use extra weight, do bodyweight at first. Believe it or not, bodyweight workouts are considered a great answer to the question: how can I train my legs with dumbbells?
- Take two dumbbells and stand up straight in front of a box
- Place feet at shoulder width with toes opened out slightly
- Squat down to a quarter squat
- Jump up explosively, landing on the box
- Step off the box and repeat
10. DB Side step-up
As you may or may not know, even a slight change in the working angle/position of an exercise, changes the specifics of it.
If you combine all of the box movements listed here, you will realise that the answer to how can I train my legs with dumbbells is a straightforward one.
- Take a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight next to a box
- Side step with the inside leg, onto the box
- Lift yourself up, driving tension through heel/mid foot
- Come back down and repeat
- Once done with one side, rotate and repeat on the opposite side
Can you build muscle using dumbbells?
Many people think you need extremely heavy weights and machines to build muscle, but fact of the matter is that with proper exercise selection, time under tension and progressive overload, you can, in fact, build muscle with basic equipment.
Furthermore, dumbbells are the perfect equipment, which will allow you to do a dumbbell leg workout at home or anywhere else for that matter!
Ultimately, it is best to combine different types of equipment, to achieve better overall development.
How can I train my legs with dumbbells?
It’s easy! You can build muscle with DB’s only. All you have to do is get yourself a pair of DB’s in the appropriate weight and start doing the exercise mentioned above. You can even stick to our dumbbell leg workout at home for max results.
So there you have it, a dumbbell leg workout for muscle gains that will target the legs all around, including the quads, hamstrings and glutes, with some functional work as well!
Remember to pick exercises which you can do and improve your technique upon.
Furthermore, try to realize the principle of progressive overload, to the biggest extent possible, meaning, increase the working weight/sets/reps, etc. You can even do this dumbbell leg workout at home if you’re stuck there or don’t prefer going to the gym.
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