You only need five moves to grow muscle in your legs at home — here's how

Strengthen your legs and develop your core with just a pair of dumbbells using this five-move workout

A woman performing a lunge ina gym while being watched by her coach
(Image credit: Getty)

You might think leg workouts need to revolve around gym machines and barbells, but you can strengthen your lower body with nothing more than a pair of dumbbells. 

Dumbbells are some of the most compact and versatile pieces of fitness equipment around. As a result, dumbbell-only workouts like this leg session from personal trainer Alex Rice are a great option for exercising at home or in a busy gym. 

Adjustable dumbbells are our go-to for at-home option as they allow you to alter the weight to suit the exercise you’re doing, but a fixed-load pair will also do — just be sure to choose a dumbbell weight that'll challenge you but not affect your form.

Rice's session uses just five moves to work large leg muscles like your hamstrings, quads, and calves, as well as your glutes and core. Watch her demonstrations to perfect your technique before you get started to get the most from your training. 

Watch Alex Rice's dumbbell leg workout

Complete the repetitions and sets for each exercise according to Rice's workout plan, resting for 90 seconds between sets. For most moves, you'll do up to 10 repetitions, except for the dumbbell hip thrusts which Rice advises doing until failure. 

This means continuing to do the movement until your muscles become so fatigued you can't complete any more repetitions, or your form starts to break down. Just be sure to stop before you can't hold the weights anymore. 

For the sumo squats, Rice says it’s important to maintain constant tension in your legs by not standing all the way up and maintaining a slight hip hinge, rather than standing up straight and locking out your knees at the top of each repetition. 

You can do the reverse lunges assisted, holding onto something, if you want some extra stability. However, completing them unassisted will be more challenging for your core as it works to help you stay balanced.

Whether you're new to strength workouts or taking this routine on for the first time, you'll likely feel the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. This is caused by small tears in your muscle fibers that your body needs to repair. 

As the fibers recover, this helps grow and strengthen your muscles. You can help your body along by getting enough protein in your diet. Or, if you want a quick top-up, make a post-workout shake with one of the best protein powders for weight loss

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.