You only need two dumbbells and four moves to build stronger legs at home

Use these four exercises from Sweat app trainer Britany Williams to strengthen your lower body muscles

A woman performing a lateral lunge
(Image credit: Getty Images / Lacheev)

Strengthening your legs lays the foundation for a fit and functional body, and a top trainer has shown you don’t need much equipment to do it.

Home workout specialist Britany Williams has shared her four favorite exercises for strengthening your lower body using just a pair of dumbbells. 

She says the Romanian deadlift, lateral lunge, clam and squat recruit major leg muscles like the quadriceps on the front of your thigh, hamstrings on the back of your thigh, adductors on the inside of your thigh and glutes or backside muscles.

The result? Comprehensive lower body strength you can build at home. 

How to do Britany Williams' four favorite lower body exercises

1. Romanian deadlift

  • Stand upright with your feet roughly hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing you.
  • Keeping your back flat and your core tight, hinge at the hips to lower the dumbbells along the front of your legs.
  • Lower the dumbbells as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings (along the back of your thigh). Then squeeze your glutes (backside muscles) to reverse the motion and stand back up straight.

Why is it a favorite?

The Romanian deadlift is going to target your posterior chain—the muscles along the backside of your body, such as the glutes and hamstrings. A strong posterior chain is vital for maintaining your posture, keeping you functional and injury-free through everyday movements like bending over to pick something up from the floor.

"The most important thing with the deadlift is remembering that it’s hinge, not a squat," says Williams. In other words, focus on hinging at the hips rather than bending at the knees. 

2. Lateral lunge

  • Start by standing upright with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand, with your arms by your side.
  • Take a large step to your side with your right leg. Land with your toes facing forward and place most of your weight on your right foot.
  • Keeping your chest up and allowing the dumbbell to hang toward the ground between your legs, bend your right knee to perform a lunge.
  • Drive through your right foot to propel yourself back to the starting position, standing upright.

Why is it a favorite?

The body moves in three planes of motion; sagittal (up, down, forward and backward), frontal (side-to-side) and transverse (rotational). Most exercises focus on the sagittal plane, but it's important to build strength in all three planes of motion to build a fit and functional body. 

The lateral lunge is an excellent way to train in the frontal plane. It recruits your glutes, hamstrings and adductors—the muscles on the inside of your thigh, responsible for bringing your legs toward the midline of your body. 

3. Clam

  • Lie on your right side. Prop yourself onto your right forearm so it runs adjacent to your body, under your shoulder. Keeping your toes in line with your body, bend your knees to bring them slightly in front of you.
  • Keeping your right leg pressed into the floor and your feet together, move your left knee upward in an arc, then lower it back down to the starting position.

Why is it a favorite?

This move is a favorite for Williams because it targets the gluteus medius—found on the side of your backside. Strengthening this muscle can support and stabilize the hip joint.

4. Squat

  • Stand upright with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back straight and your chest up, push your hips back to initiate the squat.
  • From here, bend your knees and lower your hips as far toward the ground as you can while keeping your chest up.
  • When you reach the lowest position you can while maintaining good form, drive through your feet to straighten your legs and return to the starting position.

Why is it a favorite?

"The squat is an excellent exercise for your quads and your glutes, and it’s one of the most fundamental movement patterns that exists," says Williams. 

Just think how many times you perform a variation of a squat in your day-to-day life, whether you’re standing up from a chair or getting out of bed. So it pays to build strength and proficiency in this movement pattern. 

Need some weights to support your home workouts? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.