You only need four moves and a set of dumbbells to build leg muscle

This short routine strengthens your core and builds lower body muscle with just four moves

Slim Hispanic girl doing lunges with dumbbells at home, empty space - stock photo
(Image credit: Future)

You don’t need a fully-stocked gym to build leg muscle, just two dumbbells, four exercises and less than 30 minutes of your day. And the beauty of this workout is you can do it almost anywhere.

Each exercise can be performed in the gym with fixed free weights, at home with the best adjustable dumbbells, or even without any kit at all — try using a pair of water bottles in place of a set of dumbbells, just make sure they’re heavy enough to challenge you and both bottles weigh the same. 

Once you’ve worked out which dumbbell weights you should use, you can take on this session from fitness YouTubers Tiff x Dan, who specialize in crafting testing yet accessible home workouts they post on their Instagram account and YouTube channel. 

This workout promises to deliver an effective workout using a pair of dumbbells and just four leg exercises; the high squat, rear lunge, Romanian deadlift, and sumo squat. Each of these moves may engage other muscles, such as those in your core and shoulders, but they primarily target your leg muscles. 

This session tasks you with performing 10-12 repetitions of each movement (demonstrated by Dan below) for four sets. We recommend resting for one minute between exercises to allow your legs to recover before you launch into your next set. Following this structure, you will amass an impressive total volume of 80 or more repetitions in less than 30 minutes. 

Watch Tiff x Dan’s dumbbell leg workout

If you’re wondering how to build muscle, this workout is a great place to start. It helps build leg muscle with moves that put your hamstrings, quads and glutes under mechanical tension. While this term may sound confusing, it’s any force that tries to stretch our muscles. 

A systematic review exploring ways to maximize the muscle-building process, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that mechanical tension is a key component. So, if you’re looking to add muscle to your legs, you need to perform exercises like squats and lunges that engage your lower body. 

If you’d rather learn a bit more about training with weights before jumping into a fully-fledged workout, these beginner strength training tips are a great place to start. Or, if you want to alternate this with an upper body session, it’s worth learning how to do dumbbell pullovers.

Just make sure you’re eating enough protein to support your activity levels. If you pick up one of the best protein powders for weight loss, you can use these high protein breakfast ideas to boost your recovery and build lean muscle.  

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.