When it comes to building strong leg muscles, you don’t need a fancy gym with endless equipment to get a good workout. In fact, a set of resistance bands or a pair of dumbbells will do the job. Don’t believe us? Check out this dumbbell-only leg workout, which targets your lower body in just five exercises.
A strong lower body is much more than just an aesthetic goal — and building your leg muscles, lower body strength is important for your fitness goals, no matter what sport you play. A strong lower body can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, and walk farther. Regular strength training can also increase stamina and bone strength, and reduce the risk of injury.
This dumbbell-only leg workout by Krissy Cela, trainer and co-founder of the workout app Evolve you (opens in a new tab) involves five different exercises. As the name suggests, all you need is a set of dumbbells — check it out best adjustable dumbbells for strength training at home here.
If you’re completely new to the exercises below, or you’re returning to sports after an injury, it’s a good idea to check your form with a personal trainer before adding weight to the move.
Looking for more sports inspiration? See what happens when we try 50 glute bridges every day for a weekor proper resistance band practice Chris Hemsworth used on the set of Thor: Love and Thunder.
These 5 exercises build your lower body using just dumbbells
Let’s get into the workout, which involves five dumbbell exercises to work the muscles in the lower body. It can be done from home, or on days when the gym is very busy and you want to avoid waiting for equipment to become free.
This exercise involves three sets of five exercises each. All three sets must be completed before you can move on to the next exercise. Take a 60-second break between each set, and rest three minutes between each exercise.
Sumo squat to bodyweight squat — 15 reps to 10 reps
For this exercise, start in a sumo squat position, with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing outward. Holding dumbbells in each hand, keep your weight on your heels, lower your hips, and bend your knees into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Lift back up to your starting position, pressing your glutes at the top of the movement.
After 15 sumo squats, drop the dumbbells and complete 10 reps of bodyweight squats in the same wide position.
Double pulse reverse lunges — 10 reps per leg
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, take a big step back with your right leg, bending your left knee to form a 90-degree angle. Keeping your spine perpendicular to the floor, lower your body toward the floor until your legs form a 90-degree angle. The front knee should be above the front ankle, and the back knee should be below the hip. Straighten your back leg, then press it back down before returning to your starting position.
Single leg Romanian deadlift — 12 reps per leg
In this exercise, Krissy uses a wall for stability. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, starting with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a slight bend in your standing leg (your standing leg is on the same side as the hand holding the dumbbell). Keeping the bend, hinge your hips forward and lower your body until it is almost parallel to the floor, kicking the opposite leg behind you. When you are hinged, lower the dumbbells to the floor, then hinge back to your starting position.
Knee lateral squat – 10 reps on each side
To perform a lateral squat, start with your feet slightly wider than your hips, facing forward. Shift your weight to the left, pushing your hips back as you bend your left knee and keep your right leg straight. From here, push your left leg up to stand straight, lifting your left knee to your chest as you did. Lower your legs back into a squat position, and repeat the squat movement so that the movement is smooth. Keep one dumbbell on your left shoulder for all ten reps, then switch to the right as you work on the right side.
Romanian Deadlift — 12 reps
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, engaging your core and hinges at your hips. While doing this, place a barbell or dumbbells on your feet and keep your back flat. Your body should ideally be parallel to the floor and dumbbells or barbells hanging at shin height. When done correctly, you will feel tension develop in your hamstrings and in your back (lower and middle, especially around your shoulder blades). Once you’ve reached the bottom of the movement, pause, then lift your body back up to the starting position.
Looking for more sports inspiration? Here are three of best glute exercises to try in the gymplus try this exercise, which is one of the best for targeting your inner thighs.