You can do a huge number of highly-effective leg workouts with nothing more than a set of dumbbells. Following a comprehensive set of leg workouts with dumbbells can have big potential benefits for your total body strength. That’s because the unique coordination and resistance provided by dumbbells strengthens multiple muscles at once. With your Doctor’s approval, try out a few of Tony Horton’s favorite dumbbell leg workouts to get started.
The Importance Of Leg Strength
Every week, a new bit of fitness advice seems to swirl around the gym. So, when people tell you to never skip leg day, you may wonder if that’s even true. Well, Tony Horton is here to tell you that it is true. Proper leg training is crucial for your overall fitness and health.
Your legs are a highly unique area of your body. They contain the body’s biggest muscle — the gluteus maximus — as well as three other large muscle groups.1
These large muscles need targeted leg training in order to grow. Simple cardio, like running, won’t provide enough resistance to build strength. You need dedicated lower body training in order to actually build these muscles. Strong legs are also important for a number of reasons beyond fitness.2
The Potential Benefits Of Strong Legs
Your legs facilitate many of your body’s motions and functions. Anytime you bend or lift, you engage your leg muscles. That’s both in and out of the gym. So, strong and flexible legs are crucial for your everyday health and your training in the gym.3
Compound Exercises Can Lead To Big Gains
Many leg workouts are what’s known as compound exercises. They engage and move multiple muscles and joints at once. Working extra muscles with one movement causes your body to release extra growth hormones which spread to your whole body. That means you’ll build muscle mass in several different areas with one single exercise.4
Why Choose Dumbbell Leg Workouts?
Dumbbells offer a unique training experience compared to other gym equipment, like machines or resistance bands.
Working out with dumbbells can help to keep your strength training balanced and even. That’s because dumbbells provide an equal weight load on each side of your body. Conversely, you can use one at a time if you need for targeted, unilateral training.5
Increased Muscle Activation
Dumbbells enhance muscle activation by encouraging multiple muscles to work at once. This is called intramuscular coordination. It helps support your body’s ability to use different areas of the body simultaneously.6
Ultimate Leg Workouts With Dumbbells
As mentioned before, your legs contain a lot of different muscles — and leg exercise variety helps ensure you work all of them. This collection of leg workouts with dumbbells represents some of Tony Horton’s favorite routines. They’re designed to target every area of your lower body to provide the most comprehensive workout possible.7
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
This variation of a split squat focuses on the quadriceps. It also builds core strength because of the balance and coordination required.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and a bench behind you. Hold a single dumbbell in your hands across your chest.
- Lift your left leg behind you and place it on the bench with your toes down. This is to help you keep your balance.
- Slowly lower your body down toward the ground until your right quad is parallel with the ground. Keep your core tight and your chest high as you go down.
- Pause, then push yourself back up through your right foot. You should engage your quad and glute during the press.
- Return to start, and repeat for 5-10 reps. Then, alternate sides.8
Add some extra tension and training to this basic bodyweight exercise with the addition of dumbbells. It can help build muscle in the buttocks and upper leg.
- Stand with a suitable dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Place your arms at your side. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward with your left leg, and bend down at the knee until your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Keep your right leg back on your toes for balance.
- Push back into the standing position. Repeat for 10 reps. Switch sides for another 10 reps.9
This simple exercise can actually provide big potential benefits. It is a single-sided movement that puts strain across the whole length of your body from your hamstrings all the way to your core muscles.
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand with your body facing a bench.
- Lift your left foot onto the bench with your left knee bent at 90-degrees. Stand straight with shoulders back and chest out.
- Push up onto the bench with your right foot to lift your whole body onto the bench.
- Carefully lower your left leg back to the floor.
- Repeat with the other side. Complete 10 reps for each side.10
This deadlift variation is as close to a total body workout as you can get. It engages all the muscles of the leg, your back, core, and shoulders. Adding dumbbells to the conventional deadlift also allows you to achieve a greater range of motion during the exercise.
- Stand with a pair of dumbbells in your hand. Hold them in an overhand grip with your palms facing toward you, close to your body.
- Bend your upper body forward by bending your knees and hinging at the hips.
- Keep your back straight as you lower the weights toward the ground. Pause and hold before your back makes a 90-degree angle with the floor.
- Slowly push back up by bracing your core. Repeat for 8-10 reps.11
Seated Dumbbell Calf Raises
These calf raises showcase the versatility of dumbbells. You can do these lifts instead of using a seated calf raise machine to isolate training to the back of your leg.
- Start by setting up a block in front of a bench.
- Sit down with a set of dumbbells on the bench. Lift your feet onto the block in front of you, and rest the balls of your feet on the edge.
- Rest the dumbbells on your thighs near your knee. Your legs should form a 90-degree angle.
- Let your heels fall toward the ground as far as possible, and pause. This will be your starting position.
- Lift up your heels as high as you can against the dumbbells. Hold, and slowly lower back down. Repeat for 10 reps.12
Lateral Lunge With Dumbbell
This is a unique squat exercise that targets muscles in the leg – outer thighs and hips – that are often overlooked. This is exactly why it’s so important to give them some attention. It can also do wonders for your core strength and balance.
- Stand with a set of dumbbells inward with palms facing each other. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Step out wide with your right leg and place your weight on your right foot. Bend the right knee and push your hips back to lower into a squat.
- Your left leg should remain straight in the squat position with toes facing forward. The dumbbells and your arm should encase your right knee. Keep your back and torso upright.
- Push into your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat for 5 reps on the right side, then switch sides for another 5 reps.13
Workout With Dumbbells For Big Leg Gains
A varied and comprehensive leg day in the gym can be a great addition to any workout routine. It can help you build muscle across your whole body and support your mobility. That conditioning can then enhance your overall fitness performance.
Dumbbells provide the perfect tool for leg training. They activate multiple muscles and allow you to train evenly on each side of your body. That’s why Tony Horton has provided you with his favorite dumbbell leg exercises. They will engage all the major muscles of your leg and utilize the full range of motion and resistance. So, grab a set, and see what dumbbells can do for your lower body training. Again, just make sure to first get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise regimen.
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