Dumbbells leg workout: strengthen your lower body with these moves

Get your lower body in shape with our ultimate dumbbells leg workout

Dumbbells leg workout: Woman using dumbbells for workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We've put together the ultimate dumbbells leg workout that will give you everything you need for a supercharged lower body session. Working your lower body is a super important part of any fitness regime. It's tempting to skip leg day in favor of bicep curls (opens in new tab) and chest workouts (opens in new tab) that will sculpt your upper body, but as we'll see, you shouldn't neglect your legs. Lower body strength is key to supporting your entire body and is great for torching fat, too, so a dumbbells leg workout is a great addition to your fitness schedule.

You don't need to go to the gym to get a great leg workout, either - you can work your lower body effectively from the comfort of your living room or garage, and the best workout equipment (opens in new tab) at home doesn't need to be fancy. With just one set of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) and our dumbbells leg workout, you've got everything you need for a powerful session.

Why is lower body strength important?

You may be tempted to neglect your lower body when you're working out - and if you do, you wouldn't be alone. But according to ACE certified strength and conditioning coach and NJ powerlifting champion Polli Schildge (opens in new tab), it's worth taking time to condition your lower body as well as those biceps and pecs.

"Lower body strength training involves the biggest muscles in the body, those that will carry us around for a lifetime," Schildge told Fit&Well.  "Lower body strength training will build lean muscle and reduce fat."

By training your lower body you benefit your entire body, said Schildge. "These muscles are connected to the trunk (core), meaning that there is additional benefit to strength and stabilization for the whole body with lower body exercises (opens in new tab)

Dumbbells leg workout: Woman using dumbbells for workout

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Some gym-goers neglect the lower body, focusing on the 'glamor muscles' of the anterior core (the abs) which are the ones we see every day in the mirror. Many don't realize that the core is the entire trunk, front (anterior), and back (posterior), and the back has much more core muscle than the front of the body. The core is the tops of shoulders to the base of the body, including glutes, which are prime movers in doing any effective lower body workout."

There are functional benefits to a lower body workout, said Schildge. "The squat, in particular, is an essential human movement involving three-point flexion - hips, knees, and ankles. Deadlifts are another essential human movement and also a part of a functional (purposeful) training program."

Finally, including a dumbbells legs workout will ensure that your body looks as good as it can by giving it balance. 

Why are dumbbells leg workouts beneficial?

The American Council on Exercise recommends dumbbell workouts (opens in new tab) for a number of reasons.  Dumbbells exercises help your muscles grow by promoting mechanical overload (if you're using heavy dumbbells) and metabolic overload (if you're using moderate weight dumbbells combined with high repetitions). They can help with coordination and stability for your muscles and joints by causing your muscles to work together. They can help improve your muscles and joints. Finally, they provide endless variety, with much more flexibility than machines.

"Dumbbells are a good choice for home use," said Schildge, "and are excellent for functional training (purposeful), moving weight in space." You can supercharge your workout by increasing the weight of your dumbbells, too, and adapting your workout as you get stronger. "Adding weight, volume, and depth to any exercise will provide strength and hypertrophy benefits (bigger muscles)."

With a dumbbells legs workout, you get all the benefits of dumbbells alongside the muscular, functional, and aesthetic advantages of a lower-body workout.

Try this dumbbells leg workout

Schildge suggests these moves for the ultimate dumbbells leg workout.

Goblet squat  

Step 1: Hold a dumbbell horizontally or vertically at chest height, with your elbows slightly forward. Keep the dumbbell close to your chest, maintaining a strong core to support your back. Use your breath. Inhale, then engage with the exhalation to brace your trunk - this will stabilize your back.

Step 2: Hinge your hips and lower your hips back and down, keeping your upper body slightly forward and your shoulders back, with pressure in your heels. 

Step 3: Keep your eyes elevated and your chest up.

Single leg squat (aka pistol squat or sit-to-stand)

As an alternative, you can use a suspension training system or for a progression, perform the exercise standing on an unstable surface. To maintain your balance, keep pressure through the heel as your hips hinge, use your breath to stabilize the trunk, keep your eyes slightly elevated, and find a visual "spot" to focus on.

Step 1: Hold a dumbbell in the goblet position (at chest height) or the rack position (resting at your shoulders).

Step 2: Extend one leg forward off the floor and hinging your hips, lower your hips back and down onto a bench or box. 

Step 3: Keep your upper body forward, your eyes elevated and put pressure on the supporting heel. 

Deadlift

Step 1: Holding a pair of dumbbells close to the front of your thighs, hinge your hips, pressing into heels, with your upper body almost parallel to the floor - your body should look like a numeral 7. Use your breath to brace your trunk. Keep the dumbbells close to the front of your legs through the movement. Keep your eyes forward and slightly elevated to keep your back straight, and maintain the pressure in your heels.

Step 2: Lower your hips, sitting into your heels, lowering the dumbbells to a few inches below your knees with your eyes forward. 

Step 3: Then pressing through your heels,  straighten your knees before straightening your hips to a standing position.  

Single leg deadlift

To keep your balance, maintain pressure through your heels as your hips hinge, use your breath to stabilize your trunk, keep your eyes slightly elevated, and find a visual "spot" to focus on. Keep your shoulders square.

Step 1: Holding a dumbbell in one hand, extend your opposite leg back and up with your toes pointed downward. 

Step 2: While hinging your hips, lower your upper body, pressing into the heel of your supporting leg. 

Step 3: Aim to get your body and the extended leg parallel to the floor. 

Step 4: Push through the heel to stand on one leg. 

Step 5: As an option, you can also hold a dumbbell on the same side as your supporting leg, hanging down at the side as your hips hinge.

Jump squats

Use an exhale on the push off the floor, keeping your eyes slightly elevated.

Step 1: Holding your dumbbells by your sides, move into a squat, lowering your hips back into your heels. 

Step 2: Push off the floor, getting elevation, then land softly toes to heels, dropping immediately into the squat, using your hips as shock absorbers.

Patricia Carswell is a freelance journalist, specialising in health and fitness. She has written for a huge variety of national newspapers and magazines, including Healthy, Top Santé and Women's Fitness, and writes a monthly column for British Rowing's content hub. She's the founder and host of rowing blog and podcast, Girl on the River, where guests have included Sir Matthew Pinsent and multiple Olympian Frances Houghton MBE.

She won Rowperfect’s Rowing Blogger of the Year several years in a row, the Endurance Award in the MyProtein Blog Awards and was runner-up in the Sports & Fitness Category in the UK Blog Awards in 2017.

She keeps fit by rowing, walking and swimming, and is at her happiest when on or in the water.