Best Lower Body Dumbbell Workouts
If you’re reading this, then we’re going to guess you’re serious about training, and that includes training legs. The lower body must be trained effectively if you’re going to have a complete body for show and go. Most of the popular leg training videos online show barbells and machines, but what if you have dumbbells? Can you train the entire lower body effectively? Yes, you can.
Training for one-rep power may be more challenging, but when it comes to training for development of the muscles, endurance, performance, and overall athleticism, dumbbells are a great asset – especially adjustable dumbbells because you would have access to several weights without a large space commitment. Having different amounts of resistance is vital for productive leg workouts.
We have six exercises that any fitness enthusiast can perform properly, and they will all yield positive results for you regardless of your goal. Take the time to master these movements, and then try the workouts we have at the end.
The dumbbell squat is a simple movement that beginners can learn easily, but it can also provide the necessary challenges for trainees of all levels. It will target the quadriceps primarily, but it can also work the hamstrings and glutes as secondary muscles.
How to Do It – Select your dumbbells and hold them to your sides. Feet should be shoulder width apart with a slight bend in the knee. Breathe in while bending the knees, pushing the hips back, and descending as far as you can. Your knees should be parallel with the hips at the bottom. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. Breathe out as you come up. Look straight ahead throughout the entire rep. Repeat for desired reps.
The goblet squat is a solid exercise that can help improve flexibility and mobility as well as strength and lower body development. The glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps will all be a part of the party on this. Range of motion is a must on this, and a wider stance can help you target the outer thighs as well.’
How to Do It – Choose a dumbbell and hold it at your chest with a hand under each side of it. Stand tall with toes pointed ahead or slightly out. Breathe in while bending the knees, pushing the hips back, and descending as far as you can. Your knees should be parallel with the hips at the bottom. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. Breathe out as you come up. Do your best to keep your abs tight throughout the rep. Repeat for desired reps.
The walking lunge will help you focus on balance and working each leg one at a time. Once again, everything above the knee is involved, so this will be a solid way to transition from quads to hamstrings. Control is key for this. If you’re unable to perform this exercise as recommended, opt for doing extra sets of dumbbell squats or goblet squats.
How to Do It – Assume a similar position you did with the dumbbell squat. Step forward with either leg and allow both knees to bend. Lower the back knee until it touches the floor. Push through the front foot as you come up to a standing position. Bring the back leg up next to the front leg so you’re standing tall again. Repeat for the opposite leg, then perform the desired reps for each leg.
The stiff-legged deadlift is a premier exercise that can help you improve the lower half of the posterior chain. While the emphasis is on hamstrings, the glutes and lower back won’t be ignored. The dumbbells allow you to use a greater range of motion than a barbell, and you can hold them where you would feel the muscles working the hardest. Some lifters may want to keep them in front of the legs while others may prefer holding them to the side.
How to Do It – Assume the same starting position that you did for the dumbbell squat and walking lunge. Keep the back straight while bending at the waist and pushing your glutes back. Lower the dumbbells as close to the floor as possible while keeping the knees straight. You should feel a stretch in the hamstrings as you reach the bottom of the movement. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired reps.
Seated Calf Raise
You can’t ignore the calves, and you can train them effectively with dumbbells as well. The part of the calves you see when you flex them is the gastrocnemius, but there is another portion of the muscle underneath that called the soleus. It’s important to train as well because it works more when the knee is bent. Thus, a seated movement can train this area and help you prepare the gastrocnemius for the next exercise.
How to Do It – Set a block or step up in front of a bench or seat. Hold a dumbbell in each hand while placing them on each knee. Place the balls of the feet on the bench so the heels are off. Lower your heels as far as you safely can without letting them touch the floor. Lift the heels up to contract the calves. Flex the calves hard before returning to the starting position. Repeat for the desired reps.
Single Leg Standing Calf Raise
The standing calf raise is a great movement for the gastrocnemius, and you can do it with one leg at a time so you can focus on each leg individually. This will promote balance and strength as well as improve how the muscle looks. Having a board or step will be important for this because of the range of motion. Make sure you are close to an object you can hold on to. Do not attempt this exercise without holding onto something for balance.
How to Do It – Take a dumbbell in the right hand and stand on the edge of a block or step while holding on to a solid object. The ball of the foot should be supported while the heel is off the block. Lift the right foot up so it doesn’t help the left. Lower your left heel as far as you safely can, then lift it up to contract the left calf. This is one rep. Repeat for the desired reps, then switch the dumbbell to the left hand and work your right leg for the same reps.
- Before starting any workout, warm up adequately to prevent injuries.
- Use appropriate weights for your fitness level; start lighter if you're a beginner.
- Maintain proper form to avoid strain. For instance, keep your back straight during squats and deadlifts.
- Ensure your workout area is clear of obstacles to prevent tripping or stumbling.
- If you have any medical conditions or injuries, consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider before attempting these exercises.
To ensure continuous progress, here are some guidelines
- Gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with each exercise.
- Add extra sets or repetitions to intensify your workouts.
- Periodically change the exercise variations or incorporate new challenges (e.g., adding pauses, using unilateral movements) to prevent plateaus.
- Incorporate advanced techniques like drop sets or supersets as you advance in your training.
Remember that nutrition plays a crucial role in achieving your fitness goals. A balanced diet that includes lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can complement your workout efforts. Consider consulting a registered dietitian or nutritionist for personalized dietary advice.Putting Them Together
There are two workouts you can try all six of these exercises with. Workout A is more for beginners to learn how to perform the exercises while getting a solid workout. More advanced lifters can take on the challenge of Workout B, which is a circuit or giant set program. All you should need for either workout is your dumbbells, a board or step, a seat, and open space to complete these workouts.
Beginner's Lower Body Workout (Workout A)
- Dumbbell Squat – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Goblet Squat – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Walking Lunge – 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 3 sets of 15 reps
- Seated Calf Raise – 3 sets of 15 reps
- Single Leg Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets of 15 reps per leg
*Rest for 60 seconds between sets
Intermediate to Advanced Lower Body Workout (Workout B)
- Dumbbell Squat – 30 seconds
- Goblet Squat – 30 seconds
- Walking Lunge – 30 seconds total
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 30 seconds
- Seated Calf Raise – 30 seconds
- Single Leg Standing Calf Raise – 30 seconds per leg
*Minimal rest between exercises. 2 minutes between rounds
Strength and Power Focused Lower Body Workout (Workout C)
- Dumbbell Squat - 5 sets of 5 reps (heavier weights)
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift - 5 sets of 5 reps (heavier weights)
- Walking Lunge - 4 sets of 8 reps per leg (with additional weights)
- Seated Calf Raise - 4 sets of 15 reps
*Rest as needed between sets.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How often should I perform these workouts?
A: Aim for 2-3 lower body workouts per week, allowing for at least one day of rest between sessions.
Q: Can I combine these exercises with other training routines?
A: Yes, you can incorporate these lower body exercises into your overall fitness program, ensuring balance and variety in your workouts.
Q: What should I do if I experience muscle soreness?
A: Muscle soreness is normal, especially for beginners. Rest, hydrate, and consider light stretching or foam rolling to alleviate soreness.
Q: How long will it take to see results?
A: Results vary based on individual factors such as consistency, diet, and genetics. Be patient and stay committed to your workouts and nutrition.
Dumbbells are very versatile and beneficial to lifters of all ages and levels of experience. These workouts won’t take you very long, and you can reap many great benefits. Once you feel comfortable enough with the exercises, find your own ways to make challenging workouts so you can keep the gains coming.