Leg workout exercises with dumbbells

If you are looking to train legs but don’t have the confidence to head to the squat rack or your gym doesn’t have enough racks to build killer legs – keep reading to find out how to build a leg workout with dumbbells. 

Mix and match exercises from the blog to target muscles in all areas of your legs. The dumbbell leg exercises included help to target the following areas: 

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductors
  • Abductors
  • Lower leg (calves) 
Man holding a dumbbell in the gym

All of the exercises within the workout use dumbbells; they are fully scalable, and you can increase or decrease the weight to make them harder or easier. You can also complete a lot of these exercises at home to help strengthen your legs and tone target areas. 

How to dumbbell goblet squat

1. Dumbbell goblet squat 

The dumbbell goblet squat is a great exercise to work a wide range of muscles within the legs and should be a core exercise within your workout. Activating muscles in the calves, glutes, quads and even your core and arms – the dumbbell goblet squat is great for increasing strength and mobility. 

How to dumbbell goblet squat 

  • Start with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, with your toes pointing outwards. 
  • Grab your dumbbell and hold it with both hands so that it sits at chest height. 
  • Activate your core and push back your hips, bending your knees into a low squat. Keep your back flat, and don’t let your core go loose. 
  • Hold the position at the bottom of the movement for a few seconds before returning to the original position from your heels. 
  • Repeat this 8-12 times, depending on the intensity of the exercise and the weight you are holding. 
How to complete a dumbbell step up

2. Dumbbell step-ups

Great for hip mobility and strengthening the quads, glutes and hamstrings – the dumbbell step-up will set your legs on fire. For this exercise, you will need a level and secure surface to step up onto.

If you are completing your dumbbell leg workout in the gym, find a platform or bench to step up onto. Depending on your gym policy, you may need to remove your shoes. Ensure you are holding a weight you can manage and won’t drop onto your toes. 

You can also complete the dumbbell step-up exercise at home by stepping onto a sofa or armchair. When completing the exercise, do a test run without the dumbbell to ensure you find your balance and bearings. 

How to complete a dumbbell step up

  • Stand behind your bench, platform or sofa with your dumbbells in each hand with just enough room to raise your leg onto the surface at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Step up onto the surface, driving your weight through the foot that is elevated. 
  • Stand up on the platform and lower one leg back onto the floor at a time. 
  • Switch legs to ensure that you are working both legs, and repeat. 
How to complete a dumbbell Romanian deadlift

3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts (RDL)

Targeting your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, the Romanian deadlift, often referred to as the RDL, builds core strength and hits your hamstrings hard. This is a great exercise to build your leg strength and size, as it heavily works your posterior chain. 

How to complete a dumbbell Romanian deadlift

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart with a slight knee bend.
  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, face your palms towards your thighs. 
  • Push your hips backwards and keep your spine neutral while squeezing your shoulder blades together. 
  • Lower the dumbbells down the front of your shins. 
  • Do not lower your hips any further once the dumbbells hit your knees.
  • Extend your knees and hips and push through your heels to return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the movement.

TOP TIP: When returning to your original position from the bottom of the movement, squeeze through the glutes.  

How to complete dumbbell calf raises

4. Dumbbell calf raises 

Designed to make your calves grow, the dumbbell calf raise is a simple yet effective exercise you can complete at the gym or home. As you may have guessed, this exercise targets the calf muscles and surrounding muscle groups. 

How to complete dumbbell calf raises

  • There are two ways to complete this exercise, on a platform or the floor. 
  • Grab your dumbbells placing one in each hand, and stand with your tiptoes on the edge of the raised platform or flat on the floor. 
  • Drive your toes into the floor or platform so that you are standing on your tiptoes. 
  • Slowly return to the original position and repeat. 

You can target different areas of your calves by switching up your foot position. Try the movement with your heels together, facing forward and slightly turned in to feel how the exercise works various parts of the muscle. 

How to use dumbbells for walking lunges

5. Dumbbell walking lunges

This exercise targets the whole leg muscle group but focuses on building strength and size in the quadriceps.

How to use dumbbells for walking lunges

  • Hold your dumbbells in each hand and start in a neutral standing position. 
  • Step forward with one leg and let both knees bend simultaneously. 
  • Keep lunging forward until your knee touches the floor.
  • Drive through your front foot and return to the original position.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg until you have reached your end destination. 
How to complete a weighted glute bridge

6. Weighted glute bridge

This exercise is great for strengthening your core, bum and hamstrings. Easy to complete and can be worked in the gym or at home – it has never been easier to build your glutes. 

How to complete a weighted glute bridge 

  • Lay on your back and hold your dumbbell on your pelvis. 
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor about a foot away from your bum. 
  • Activate your core and press your heels into the floor, driving your hips up to the sky until your upper back lifts off the ground. 
  • Slowly return to your original position.
  • Repeat.   
How to complete a squat to press

7. Squat to press

The squat to press with dumbbells is a great exercise that targets the glutes, shoulder and triceps. You can scale the intensity of the exercise with the weight you choose – if you want high intensity that will help to build the muscles, we recommend going heavier for fewer reps. But you can also increase the number of reps and lower the weight to master the movement. 

How to complete a squat to press

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold your dumbbells in each hand. 
  • Lift the weights to shoulder height, and your arms are bent with your elbows by your side. 
  • Lower yourself into a squat and drive back up to your standing position. 
  • Once you reach the top of the movement, push the weights above your head and lower them back down.
  • On your return, continue down into a squat position and repeat. 

Build a leg workout that burns with the range of dumbbells available at Fitkit

At Fitkit, we have a wide range of dumbbells that you can use at home or in the gym to create a workout that tones and helps you build your leg strength. The selection of dumbbells available includes used and new models; you will find everything from light, functional dumbbells to heavier options for experienced lifters.

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