This 20-Minute Workout Sculpts The Glutes And Legs With Just Dumbbells

Bodyweight workouts are great and all, but if you want to accelerate and amplify your #gains, you'll want to add some weight. But you don't have to jump immediately to barbells to get results. A good old fashioned dumbbell leg workout can get you pretty far.

“Dumbbells are really a way to take your workouts to the next level,” says certified personal trainer Kristina Earnest. When you do dumbbell leg workouts, you’re helping improve your coordination, strengthen connective tissues, as well as amp up the stability of your muscles and joints, Earnest explains.

Meet the expert: Kristina Earnest, CPT, is a NASM-certified personal trainer.

And don’t think that dumbbell leg workouts are only applicable to people who focus on strength work for exercise—building leg muscle is essential for cardio-related sports, too, such as running, biking, swimming, and the like, Earnest says. You’ll want to incorporate strength days into your regimen so that your muscles can support you while in an aerobic and anaerobic state.

Now that you have the basics down, the following are the 15 best lower-body dumbbell exercises you can do to level up that leg strength.

Time: 20 to 30 minutes | Equipment: Dumbbells, mat (optional) | Good for: Legs

Instructions: Choose 5 to 6 exercises and do the indicated number of reps. Complete three or four sets total. (If one of the exercises displayed uses a kettlebell or body weight, you can sub or add in a dumbbell!)

What are the benefits of dumbbell leg workouts?

Dumbbells offer so many perks when it comes to building strength in your legs, says Earnest. For example, working with dumbbells allows you to touch on a wide variety of muscle groups such as quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, Earnest says.

Over time, as you regularly incorporate leg dumbbell workouts into your weekly routine, you’ll boost your metabolism, burn more calories, and increase your strength, Earnest says.

Dumbbells strengthen and challenge your stabilizing leg muscles, too. Why? “Dumbbells require more stabilization, since they activate more muscle fibers,” Earnest explains. Basically, dumbbells give you that extra oomf of tension, mentally and physically, which will help you build strength and contribute to your overall health over time.

On top of all this, dumbbell leg workouts are conducive to working out in small spaces and at home, Earnest notes.

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How heavy should dumbbells be for a leg workout?

“This is entirely dependent on where you are on your fitness journey,” says Earnest, who also stresses “form over everything.” This means that when you choose weights, you shouldn’t compromise your ability to do the move properly just to go heavier.Since there’s no way to tell *exactly* how heavy you should be lifting, try paying attention to how you feel during the workout.

“A good rule of thumb: Towards the end of your set, you should feel fatigued, but not so much that your form breaks down to exhaustion,” Earnest says. If you’re breezing through 12 to 15 reps in under one minute, you might want to up your ante. “You want a productive struggle to build strength,” Earnest says.So take your time, slow the exercises down, and feel what’s right for you.

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What if I don't have dumbbells at home?

In a pinch, you can use household items that are heavier and similarly shaped: soup cans, wine bottles, a reusable bottle filled with water, textbooks, and more.

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