I tried this six-move dumbbell lower-body workout, and my legs feel stronger already

This short dumbbell routine challenged my lower-body without a lunge in sight

Dumbbells in a gym
(Image credit: Future)

A leg strengthening session is a non-negotiable part of my weekly workout plan. As a runner training for a marathon, I've learned the hard way what a lack of leg strength can do for long distance running. 

So to keep things interesting, every week I try and find a new workout for my leg day. I recently tried an expert's three-move leg stretch session, which helped loosen my muscles, but I also wanted a way to make them stronger. 

That's how I came across the lower body routine from personal trainer, Tanya Poppet. It uses only dumbbells and has just six moves, perfect for the small time I leave for a pre-work gym session.

If you want to do this one at home, it may be worth picking up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These combine several weights, you can change the load easily, and increase the weight over time, a technique known as progressive overload

Fortunately, Poppet has put together several demonstrations of each move, so I didn't need to try and work out the form on my own. I gave each one a bit of practice, and then got started. 

Watch Tanya Poppet's six-move dumbbell workout

If you're wondering which dumbbell weight to use, the aim is to find a set that'll challenge your muscles. Poppet recommends choosing a fairly heavy set, but not so heavy that you can't finish the set or that it affects your form. 

Although you'd imagine the weighted exercises were the most challenging, the side plank variations targeted my core more than I imagined. I made through until the last set, which I cut short because I could feel my form suffering. 

Would I do this workout again?

This was a great lower-body workout and one I would definitely do again. Unlike many dumbbell leg workouts, there were no lunges at all, although I still felt like I'd done an effective workout by the end. 

The most surprising benefit for me was how much my core was challenged. I usually try and add a short abs workout onto the end of my workout, but after this I didn't feel like I needed to (maybe I was just feeling lazy, who knows).

To try and stop my legs shaking, and aid my recovery along, I always try to get more protein into my diet. Usually this is through food, but it can also help to blend up a smoothie with the best protein powders for weight loss to develop lean muscle.

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.