There’s no arguing that squats are the best exercise for building legs. But what if you’re working out at home and all you have is a pair of dumbbells?
You be thinking: ‘Are squats with dumbbells effective?’
They can be extremely effective. I’m going to show you 4 types of dumbbell squats you can do to build more muscle in your legs. And the best part is you can do these at home.
You’re also going to get a full leg workout using these variations of dumbbell squats. I have a specific sequence of how these exercises are performed to give you the best leg workout for building lower body muscle.
You’ll also get tips for each type of dumbbell squat that will help you target specific areas of your legs. So go drink your pre-workout and get ready for an awesome leg workout!
I’m writing this during the time when we’re all under quarantine and most gyms around the world are closed.
This post is not intended to knock lifting heavy weight. Rather, it’s intended for those times when you can’t make it to the gym or your gym is closed for whatever reason.
Many do not have heavier weights at home, and buying weights can be expensive. So this workout shows you how to use what you have to get an intense workout (or you can buy a pair of lighter dumbbells, which aren’t so expensive).
4 Types of Dumbbells Squats
Squats are awesome, plain and simple. But did you know that you have more options with dumbbells?
We’re going to dig into the different types of squats you can do. I’ll also explain the techniques and tips to make your leg muscles work harder and grow.
Regular Dumbbell Squats
You can call this a ‘regular dumbbell squat.’ It mimics the barbell squat. There’s just a subtle difference in how the weight is distributed.
With barbell squats, you have the barbell sitting on top of your traps. You can’t exactly put the weight of the dumbbells that far back, so instead the weight is distributed across your shoulders.
This is going to make dumbbell squats feel different. And if you’ve never done them, your legs will be sore the next day in places they usually aren’t.
Here are some tips on how to make your dumbbell squats more effective:
- Start by holding the dumbbells over your shoulders as if you were getting ready to do a shoulder press
- Take a medium stance with your feet a little further than shoulder width apart
- As you squat, make sure you keep the dumbbells in the same position (you may have a natural tendency to move them)
- Do not round your back; rather, keep a slight arch in your lower back to prevent rounding, and poke your rear out as you squat down (this applies to all types of squats)
- Use a full range of motion
- Flex your quads and glutes as you return to the starting position
- With all squats, press with your heels (not with the balls of your feet)
*Some will hold the dumbbells by their side as if you were doing lunges. I personally prefer hold them up above your shoulders as explained above. But you can try both ways and see what works best for you.
Sumo Dumbbell Squats
Sumo squats will work muscles in your legs that you didn’t know you had. The movement is also quite diverse. At first, you’ll feel your inner thighs working. But when you start squatting back up, you’ll feel your outer quads.
This is an awesome and often underrated exercise for building legs. And it’s such a simple exercise to add to your leg workouts at home with dumbbells.
Here are some ways to make sumo squats work best for you:
- Start with a wide stance and also point your feet outward
- Hold one dumbbell with both hands in front of you, letting it hang close to your body (you don’t want the dumbbell away from your body)
- Make sure your knees stay out as you perform the dumbbell sumo squat
- The dumbbell should almost touch the ground before you come back up
- As you squat back up, try pushing your legs out even more as this will help activate your outer quads
Front Dumbbell Squats
Doing front dumbbell squats may at first look like regular dumbbell squats. But you’re going to be holding the dumbbells differently.
And this difference is going to shift how the weight is distributed across your body, which will impact which leg muscles are targeted more. In this case, your quads that are going to be super-targeted (now when you go to Super Target, you’re going to think of front dumbbell squats and you’ll be flexing your quads every step down the aisles…lol!).
Here are some ways to make sure you’re doing front dumbbell squats right:
- You’ll want to start with a slightly narrower stance that regular dumbbell squats
- Hold the dumbbells in front of you with your palms facing towards you (keep them close to your torso)
- Make sure you’re rear is poking out as you squat down
- Even though your legs are closer together, push your knees out and away from you as you squat back up to the starting position
Single-Leg Dumbbell Squats
Are you ready for the toughest leg exercise you’ll ever do? Single-leg squats are going to engage more muscles in your legs – muscles that you’ve probably never worked before.
This exercise requires you to have ultimate balance and stability. And doing this exercise is going to help you build that up, as well as building up your leg muscles.
Here’s how to do single-leg squats with dumbbells:
- With both hands, hold a dumbbell against your chest
- Take one leg and kick is back a little behind you, as you see in the images above
- As you squat with the other leg, lean your torso forward
- To help maintain your balance, keep your core tight and perform these reps a little slower than normal
- Once you get back to the starting position, do the same with the other leg (I find that alternating legs each rep works best as opposed to doing multiple reps one leg at a time).
*If you’re new to single-leg squats, I’m going suggest that you try these with no dumbbells at first; just use your own bodyweight.
Video: 4 Types of Dumbbell Squats
**In the video, you see me drinking my favorite pre-workout before I get started.
You can learn more about PreFIERCE here.
Now, let’s combine the different variations of dumbbell squats and create a leg workout that you can do.
The exercises are in a strategic order. Each squat variation will compliment one another as you go through the workout, giving you a well-rounded pump and burn in your quads and glutes.
Here are a few notes about the workout:
- Do 3 sets of each exercise
- Rest about 1 minute between sets
- The reps below are an example; this may be different for you depending on how much weight you’re using
- The reps will typically be higher for sumo squats because you’re only using one dumbbell
- For single-leg squats, feel free to start out with just your body weight until you get used to the exercise (this exercise requires an extreme amount of balance and stability, and doing these over time will help you build up that balance and stability!)
|Exercise||Sets x Reps|
|Dumbbell Squats||3 x 15|
|Sumo Dumbbell Squats||3 x 25|
|Front Dumbbell Squats||3 x 15|
|Single-Leg Dumbbell Squats||3 x 10 (each leg)|
**Make sure you stretch your quads and hamstrings after doing this leg workout.
You can find what stretches I recommend for leg day in this post: 5 Stretches You Need After Your Leg Workout
Doing Dumbbell Squats at Home
Squats, in general, are indeed the king of exercises. They’re essential for building and shaping your leg muscles.
Whether your goal is to gain lower body muscle size or get ripped and toned legs, squats are going to be key. And now that you have these different types of dumbbell squats, you can target your leg muscles from all angles.
Lastly, I want to leave you with some additional resources for your leg workouts at home below:
- Legs and Shoulder Superset Workout at Home
- Leg Workout at Home with Light Dumbbells
- TruFIERCE PreFIERCE Pre-workout I’m taking
Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,