Dumbbell Leg Exercises

Dumbbells should be a component of your exercise routine no matter where you are in your fitness journey. 

Dumbbells are highly versatile pieces of equipment making them highly functional for almost all kinds of exercises, thus including strengthening the upper body, core, and lower body. 

Aside from their versatility, dumbbells are also relatively easy to use and store, they are also more affordable than most fitness equipment. 

While we usually focus our attention on getting those gains in our upper body, it is important to know that strong legs are essential in improving overall athletic performance and supporting daily functional movement. Hence with the phrase “never skip a leg a day”. 

That’s why in this article, we’ve listed the best dumbbell leg exercises you can try! Together with your core and upper body, train your leg muscles to get a stronger foundation, balance, and stability. 

We also included information on the benefits of dumbbell exercises and some safety precautions on using them. 

So if you’re interested to know more, keep on reading. 

Benefits of Dumbbell Exercises

1. Affordable

As mentioned above, dumbbell training has several advantages over other workout tools, including its affordability and versatility. Some workout equipment can cost a fortune and targets only specific body parts. 

Dumbbells, on the other hand, provide a huge variety of exercises, this is definitely a great inclusion to your home gym especially now with the ongoing Covid pandemic where most gyms are closed. 

2. Allows you to build overall strength and balance

Dumbbell exercises can help you correct a strength imbalance if you have one. 

Unlike other equipment wherein one limb may do a little more effort, with a dumbbell exercise, both limbs must do the same amount of work. 

Dumbbells require limbs to operate in one direction only, the weaker limb will be exerting all the effort on its own, making it a great workout for correcting imbalances.

3. Lesser risk for injury

What’s good about using a pair of dumbbells is that in contrast with using a barbell wherein you need a weight lifting spotter to decrease the risk of injury, you can easily let go of the weights on the floor if it’s too heavy for you. 

Best Dumbbell Leg Workout to Try

1. Bulgarian Split Squat

Buff Dudes Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squats GIF by Buff Dudes | Gfycat

The Bulgarian split squat is a fantastic approach to advance your complex, lower-body training. This exercise stimulates all of the same muscle groups as squats and lunges like calf muscles, glutes, hamstrings, adductor Magnus, to name a few. This exercise is great for building strength, muscle, balance, and coordination. 

Steps to do it

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells to begin.
  • Start by putting your left foot back on a bench, chair, or even a large fitness ball. 
  • Engage your core, slowly lower your left knee as deep as you can while executing a squat on the other. Keep your shoulder blades, back, and chest up. 
  • Shortly pause, then return to the starting position while squeezing your glute. This brings us to the end of one rep. 
  • Repeat on the opposite leg.

2. Goblet Squat 

How to Do the Goblet Squat | Men's Health

The goblet squat is a terrific total body workout that strengthens the thigh muscles or quadriceps, upper back, core, and glutes while also improving cardio fitness. It’s likewise an excellent alternative if you haven’t done squat and are still honing your form because it allows you to gradually add resistance to the exercise at a more manageable pace. 

Steps to do it

  • Begin by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointing out. 
  • With both hands, lift a single dumbbell to chest height. 
  • Push your hips back, bend your knees to squat position, and lower your body at the same time until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows meet your knees while keeping your back flat all the time. 
  • Repeat to the starting position as many times as you want.

3. Dumbbell Lunges

Can You Beat Our 210-Rep Dumbbell Chipper Workout?

Dumbbell lunges are a gym exercise that works the glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, abs, calves, and hamstrings, among other muscles. Like any other type of lunge, this exercise can help you achieve a more well-defined, toned leg muscle. 

Steps to do it

  • Hands facing your body, stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells at your sides. 
  • Lunge forward with your one leg forward as far as possible, bending your trailing knee close to the floor. 
  • Pull your upper body back to the starting position with the heel of your foot. 
  • Repeat the process with the other leg. 

4. Dumbbell Calf Raises 

Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise on Make a GIF

When it comes to weight training, the calves are typically overlooked, but they play an important role in a variety of functional tasks, from walking and running to jumping and reaching stuff. To help you with these actions, include standing calf lifts in your lower body workout from now on.

Steps to do it

  • To do this, hold two dumbbells at your sides while standing upright. 
  • Place your heels on the floor and place the balls of your feet on a fitness step or barbell/dumbbell plates. 
  • Raise your heels off the ground and contract your calves while pointing your toes forward. Repeat as many as you want.

5. Dumbbell Alternating Step-ups

Best Dumbbell Step Ups GIFs | Gfycat

The step-up is an excellent lower body workout and incorporating dumbbells into this workout increases the resistance on the muscles. It may be adjusted to give a safe and effective workout, no matter where you are in your fitness journey. Also, it can be a complement to almost any exercise routine aimed at increasing overall leg strength.

Steps to do it

  • To begin, you need a workout box or any elevated surface that is solid enough for you to stand on safely. 
  • Step up onto the box or whatever you’re using first with your left leg until both of your legs are securely placed at the top. Squeeze your glutes as you stand tall. 
  • Then, with one leg first followed by the other, take a step down. 
  • Repeat alternately.

Safety Precautions

When it comes to strength training, lifting weights can sometimes cause more harm than good if done incorrectly. Below are some safety precautions you may want to follow to avoid injuries and incidents during your sweat sessions:

  • Warm up your muscles prior to workouts, also cool down after
  • Focus on correct form rather than trying to lift the heaviest weight possible. This way you will enhance your gains and avoid injuries at the same time.
  • Avoid locking joints especially during heavy lifting, always keep your knees slightly bent to keep the stress on your muscles and not totally on your joints
  • Give your body time to recover especially after intense workouts. Instinct will tell you if you need to rest, so don’t be too hard on yourself in pushing your body to its limits.


You’ll want to add a set of dumbbells to your routine if you want to enhance your leg day and bulk up those legs fast. 

By incorporating the exercises above into your cardio and strength training, you may quickly gain muscle and strength while also improving your functional fitness. You should be looking forward to that leg day every week.

If you find this article helpful, you might want to check out our other articles at ExpertFitness.org 

Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.