Build leg muscle and burn fat with just five moves and a set of dumbbells

These five dumbbell-based exercises are designed to burn calories while helping to build muscle in your lower body

Man completing a dumbbell workout
(Image credit: Getty)

Workouts can feel a lot more time-consuming when they involve various different bits of equipment. But the rule 'less is more' can most definitely be applied to your workouts and get you the results you want, this dumbbell-only leg workout is a great place to start.

Larger weight equipment found inside most gyms, such as a barbell is great for lifting heavier and heavier after mastering moves like how to deadlift properly. However, for this lower body strengthening workout you only need a set of dumbbells to start building muscle in your lower body. You can still increase your gains through progressive overload at home with a set of the best adjustable dumbbells, which will allow you to modify the weight as you train.

This five-move program comes from Krissy Cela, a qualified personal trainer, and co-founder of the popular workout app, EvolveYou. As it's only using one piece of equipment, this workout is suitable for gym-goers and for those who prefer home workouts.

There are five exercises to complete and you will perform three rounds of the routine. It's ideal for home workouts as it doesn't require lots of space and there's no jumping involved so it's noise-friendly. Alternatively, if you attend a busy gym where it's hard to get your hands on the equipment you want, dumbbells are nearly always available.

Cela demonstrates each move in her post so you have a great point of reference for maintaining good form throughout your workout. Proper form will help you gain better results plus it helps to avoid injury.


The exercises involved in this lower body focussed session are designed to target your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. If you want to try the routine as it is, or add some of the exercises to your existing fitness regime, all the exercises you need are listed below.

  • Sumo squats into bodyweight squats: 15 reps into 10 reps
  • Double pulse reverse lunges: 10 reps each leg
  • Single leg Romanian deadlift: 12 reps each leg
  • Lateral squat knee up: 10 reps each leg
  • Romanian deadlift: 12 reps

After a weight lifting session like this, your body works to repair and replace damaged muscle fibers by fusing together fibers to form new protein strands. These new protein strands will increase in thickness and number so that you're left with muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).

It's recommended to eat a diet rich in protein as this is a key ingredient for muscle repair and recovery. Once you learn how to use protein powder to lose weight or gain muscle it's worthwhile picking up one of the best protein powders for weight loss to make sure you are consuming enough protein daily.

It's also a well-known fact that weight training is an effective way for people to burn fat and research can back this up. In a study published in the Faceb Journal, scientists found that lifting weights leads to our muscles releasing a certain type of genetic material into our bloodstream. This material is then offloaded to our fat cells to hurry along the fat-burning process. Essentially, lifting weights in a workout can trigger a biological process that is quick to metabolize fat cells.

If you're slightly newer to weight training, there's no pressure to rush things and go too hard. Master good form, even if that is just using your body weight to start out with. Once you start to feel stronger and are perhaps adding heavier weight to your workouts try and prioritize muscle recovery after workouts. Rolling out any tensions using one of the best foam rollers is a great way to massage your muscles yourself after a big session

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.