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My Dumbbell Leg Workout

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

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No Barbells or Machines Needed

Search for leg workouts on the internet and you're going to see a lot of barbell squats, deadlifts, leg presses, leg extensions, and leg curls. All of those moves are great ways to train your legs but there is another way. For me, the other way is out of necessity.

I workout out in my shed gym I set up at my house. I don't have barbells or machines. I have the Bowflex Selecttech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, 80-pound Rockweight Dumbbells, and the TRX suspension trainer. I take what I have and maximize my results with consistency and effort. My lower body workout usually consists of 4 exercises plus a warm-up to get the blood flowing.

TRX SQUAT (Warmup)


Ok so this is not a dumbbell exercise but it is a great way to warmup up your legs before getting into your working sets. I included the exercise in my 5 Best TRX Exercises For Beginners blog post because it's a great foundational exercise for the legs. If you don't have the TRX suspension trainer (you should!) then I suggest doing a few sets of body weight squats to get your legs warm!

Currently, I'm doing 3 sets of 10 for a warmup.

Goblet Squat

Dumbbell Goblet Squat
Dumbbell Goblet Squat

This is my favorite squat with dumbbells. It is easy to keep your form and focus on just lifting the weight. For this exercise, I use my 80-pound rock-weight dumbbell because it's the heaviest weight I have but I like to go lighter on some days when I'm feeling rundown.

Start by holding the dumbbell at chest level and your feet at hip-width apart. Lower your body keeping your back straight and chest up and core engaged. Pause at the bottom and push up through your heels.

Currently, I'm doing 10-12 reps for 4 sets.

Sumo Squat

Dumbbell Sumo Squat
Dumbbell Sumo Squat

This is gonna hit the same muscles that a traditional squat would but the extra emphasis is on the inner leg muscles. There are a couple of reasons I like the sumo squat. First, you have way more stability because you are taking a wider stance in this squat variation. Second, you're going to feel less stress on your knees than with traditional squats. A 40-something like myself appreciates this movement!

Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Keep your back straight, chest up, and core engaged. Hold the dumbbell at the top end and lower yourself down until the dumbbell just touches the floor. Push back up focusing on pushing through your heels.

Currently, I'm doing 12-15 reps for 3 sets.

Romanian Deadlifts

Dumbbell Romanian Dead Lift
Dumbbell Romanian Dead Lift

I like this variation of deadlifts when I'm using dumbbells. The standard deadlift goes through the full range of motion. They go from the floor to standing up. Romanian deadlifts are a kind of isolation movement. They go from the shin level to standing up. This move is great for targeting your hamstrings and glutes. A deadlift movement is just as important in building your lower body as squats are.

Hold your dumbbells with palms facing your legs. Your feet should be hip-width apart and always keep your knees slightly bent. Lower the dumbbells slowly as far as you can but it should be close to your shins. Keep the dumbbells close to your body and lift yourself back up focusing on your hamstrings and glutes.

Currently, I'm doing 8-10 reps for 4 sets

Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises
Standing Calf Raises

Alright, this one involves no dumbbells but I do it as my finisher on leg day. You gotta hit your entire lower body and that includes your calf muscles. Not only are they good for the calves they also strengthen your ankles and prevent injuries.

This is as easy as it gets. Stand hip-width apart and place your hands on a wall for support. Raise your heel as high as you can and then lower them back to the ground.

Currently, I'm doing 4 sets until failure.

Your Next Leg Workout

With no machines, racks, or barbells you can still get a great lower-body workout. If you're at home or at the gym you can simplify your workout and uncomplicate it. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an advanced lifter. While everyone is waiting to get on a squat rack or machine grab a dumbbell and get the job done!

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