For many gym goers and weight lifters, ‘leg day’ represents one of the least favourite workouts of the week. It’s probably the toughest and most punishing session – certainly if you go into it with the same dedication and commitment as any upper body workout.
Although the temptation to skip leg day can be real and very tempting, you really would be missing out on the opportunity to tip your body into fat-burning overdrive, burn a serious amount of calories and release a load of muscle-building hormones in the process. Plus, who wants to be big on top and have chicken legs on show down below?
That said, you don’t have to have access to a squat rack and ultra-heavy, commercial gym-style barbells to get in a fantastic leg workout – a set of dumbbells, a bench or chair, and room enough to move around at home is all you need!
Here’s one lower body dumbbell workout you can do in 30 minutes or less that will help create a head-turning pair of legs and firm those glutes.
A pair of medium to heavy dumbbells and a weight bench or chair is all the equipment you’ll need for this workout. I recommend starting out with anything from 17 – 20 pounds / 8 – 10 Kg dumbbells and gradually increase the weight and/or reps as you gain more strength.
As with all workouts, make sure your body is warmed up and ready to go. Do a light jog or march on the spot for around two to three minutes, followed by:
- Leg swings (to encourage range of motion in the hips, glutes, flexors and quads) – 20 swings each leg
- Quad walk (warm up your quadriceps and hip flexors) – 20 steps
- Ankle pops (to stave off any ankle injuries) – 10 to 20 jumps
This warm-up should take no more than five minutes to complete but is worth doing to help get the blood flowing around your body and prepare your muscles for the work to come.
- Adductors (inner thighs)
1. The Dumbbell Sumo Squat
Where it targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips flexors and calves
How to perform it: Standing with your legs slightly further than hip-width apart, turn your feet out to the side slightly by rotating your hips.
Next, lower yourself towards the ground by pushing your hips back and squatting down until you can grab one end of the dumbbell securely with both hands. Keeping your back straight and your upper body lifted, power upwards until your legs are almost straight, squeeze your leg muscles for a second and then lower yourself back towards the floor before repeating the movement for a maximum of 12 reps. Make sure you keep the dumbbell lifted off the ground at all times until your final rep. Aim for three rounds of 12 reps
Where it targets: Hamstrings and glutes
How to perform it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inwards. Slowly bend at your hips and lower both dumbbells down to just below your knees, making sure you keep your back straight and a slight bend in the knees at all times. At the bottom of the movement you should feel a slight stretch in the hamstrings, if you don’t then you can go lower until you do. Hold this stretch for a second before bring yourself back to the start position and squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat the movement for a maximum of between 10 to 12 reps and aim for three rounds in total.
Where it targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, adductors
How to perform it: Grab a weight bench (if you have one) or a chair/low stool and place your upper back and shoulders against it, making sure your knees are bent and feet flat. Grab a dumbbell and rest it on your hips. Pushing through your heels, raise your hips upwards until your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes before lowering back to the start position. Aim to complete three sets of 12 reps.
Where it targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves
How to perform it: Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand with one foot behind you on a weight bench or chair/low stool, and the other leg almost straight with dumbbells at your sides. Bending at the knee of your straight leg, lower yourself down until the thigh of your other leg is parallel to the floor, hold for a second and then bring yourself back up to standing position. Perform 10 reps before switching sides to the other leg. Aim for three sets of 10 reps on both sides.
Where it targets: Calf muscle (specifically the gastrocnemius)
How to perform it: Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Pushing through the balls of your feet, raise your heels upwards until you are standing on your toes. At the top, squeeze your calf muscles and hold for a second before slowly lowering back down to the floor. Aim for three sets of between 10 to 12 reps.
Don’t Forget To Stretch Out
When you’re finished, don’t forget to stretch out your muscles to help prevent injury. This should take you no longer than five minutes tagged on to the end of your session. For some really effective post-workout stretches have a look at some that I use and recommend.
And You’re Done!
Although only a thirty-minute workout of five exercises, this routine will really hit that lower body hard and elevate your heart rate so you’re not only gaining lower body strength but burning a serious amount of calories in the process. Try to perform this routine at least once a week and gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells, or the number of repetitions, as you get stronger.
Try this workout and let me know how you get on. If you have a lower body dumbbell workout you swear by then feel free to share and let me know how it compares to this one. If you have any questions or comments on what you’ve read then please post below and share your thoughts.