You only need one dumbbell, three moves and 10 minutes to strengthen your legs

This simple session will strengthen your core while building muscle in your legs and glutes in under 10 minutes

A woman performing a sumo squat with a dumbbell in a gym
(Image credit: Getty)

Building strong legs doesn’t need to involve long workouts and seriously heavy weights. If you train smarter, you can grow your lower-body muscles in no time with minimal equipment.

This workout from fitness coach Julie Ledbetter is proof of that, hitting your hamstrings and glutes hard in less than ten minutes using just a single dumbbell. So, you can use it to build muscle at home or in the gym. 

If you use one of the best adjustable dumbbells, you can keep coming back to this session, increasing the weight you're lifting each time as you grow stronger for continued gains (an example of the progressive overload principle). 

To do this workout, complete 12 sumo deadlifts then, without any rest, perform 10 sumo squats straight into 20 sumo squat pulses. After this, rest for 30 seconds and repeat this three-move sequence, and that's it. Simple, right?

If you aren't familiar with any of these three movements, watch Ledbetter's demonstrations below to learn how to perform them correctly and get the most from your training. 

Watch Movement With Julie's dumbbell leg workout

Ledbetter uses a 65lb/30kg dumbbell, but this may feel too heavy for anyone newer to strength training. If you're wondering, "What dumbbell weights should I use?", aim for one that feels manageable but challenging. 

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to complete all sets with perfect form, but the last few repetitions of each one should really test your muscles. 

Each of the three exercises in this workout is a compound exercise, meaning they work multiple muscles at once. For example, the sumo squats will provide a comprehensive lower-body burn, working the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and hip flexors. 

These movements will also provide a good abs workout by challenging you to keep your spine neutral (straight) while supporting the added weight of the dumbbell. 

Add this workout to the end of a full lower-body strength session to optimize your gains. This seven-move dumbbell routine pairs well with Ledbetter’s glutes and hamstring session.

Or, you could do this workout on its own as a quick leg burner, just make sure you warm-up properly to avoid injury. Take a look at our guide to full-body warm-ups, which will also improve your mobility. 

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.