Forget the gym—this 20-minute dumbbell workout will tone your legs with just four moves

Build your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings with this efficient session

Woman doing lower-body workout with dumbbells at home in living room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might assume you need a gym membership and fancy equipment to build muscle. But you can develop strength with nothing more than a pair of dumbbells. All you need is the right moves and a program that continues to challenge you.

Personal trainer Elise Young recently shared a workout on Instagram that proves just how versatile dumbbells can be. The routine features five efficient lower-body moves that work the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves—watch the video below to see how to do it.

How to do Elise Young's lower-body dumbbell workout

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The routine consists of goblet squats, deadlift variations and lunge variations; make sure you watch Young’s video and replicate her form exactly to avoid injury. Aim for two to three rounds in total for a 20-minute routine.

You can do this session in the gym or at home if you have a pair of dumbbells.

The benefits of using dumbbells to strengthen the lower body

Dumbbells can be effective strength-training tools, as long as you use a challenging weight and follow the progressive overload principle. This means that whenever an exercise becomes too easy, you increase the dumbbell load or the number of repetitions you do so that it feels challenging again.

It’s useful to have a set of the best adjustable dumbbells for this purpose, as they allow you to gradually increase weight. If the jump between the current dumbbell you’re using and the next weight up is too difficult, try increasing the number of sets or reps instead.

Another benefit of this particular routine is that it features several unilateral movements, which target one side of the body at a time. These exercises can help you address muscle imbalances (especially if you tend to rely on the stronger side of your body) and ensure you're building strength equally.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.