Can you build your legs at home with just a pair of light dumbbells?
In short, yes, it’s possible. But you have to understand that training legs at home will be much different than when you’re at the gym.
In this post, you’re going to get a complete leg workout you can do at home with light dumbbells. More importantly, I’m also going to show you some methods that will make your workout more effective.
In fact, you’re going to be surprised at how brutal this leg workout is. Trust me, you’ll be out of breath and your quads will be on fire!
And I’m going to show you how to work every angle of your legs at home your quads, hamstrings, glutes…and even your calves!
I’m writing this during the time of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak when 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).
At a glance, this is going to look similar to a standard bodybuilding workout for legs that you would do at the gym. The differences are:
- You’ll be performing the same movements as you would with a barbell, but with dumbbells
- You’ll be doing higher reps, which is awesome for growth in your quads
Below are some notes about the workout before you get started:
- Your rest time between sets should be about 1 minute
- Since your doing super high reps for most exercises, you may be tempted to rush through them; although you will be moving fast, pumping those reps out, don’t get sloppy
- Lightly stretch your quads and hamstrings between sets (just simple stretches will do, like holding one leg behind you and toe touches)
- Take something to boost your energy and mental focus before you workout, like what I’m taking: PreFierce pre-workout
Lastly, push yourself during this workout! If you’re new to doing this many reps you may want to quit your set too early. You’re working different muscle fibers here but you’ll be surprised how far you can go when you really push yourself.
Here’s the workout…
**There are images and details for each exercise below the workout.
|Exercise||Sets x Reps|
|Dumbbell Squats||4 x 25*|
|Dumbbell Stiff-leg Deadlifts|
|4 x 15|
|Sumo Squats||4 x 20|
|Walking Dumbbell Lunges||2 x 15 (each leg)|
|Toe (calve) Raises||2 x 75**|
*Dumbbell Squats: Depending on how heavy your dumbbells are and how much endurance you have, you may not get all 25 reps for dumbbell squats. And chances are you won’t on that last set.
In this case, you will do a rest-pause set. Let’s say you get 19 reps. You’ll rest for about 15 seconds and then pump out the remaining reps until you get 15.
**Toe Raises: You’re going to do one extended set here, which is basically comprised of several rest-pause sets. You’ll pump out as many reps as you can do (with light dumbbells, I get about 25 reps). Then you’ll rest for 10 seconds and pump out more reps.
Keep repeating this until you get a total of 75 reps. I promise you that you will feel your calves burning!
Leg Exercises with Dumbbells
You’re probably familiar with the leg exercises in the workout above. But these are quite different with dumbbells so I’m going to give you some additional tips below.
Doing squats with dumbbells will feel much different from regular barbell squats. In fact, you may feel your quads working even more with dumbbell squats.
This is largely due to the position of the weight. With barbell squats, the weight is behind your neck on the top of your traps. But with dumbbells, that weight is directly above your shoulders so you’ll be recruiting other parts of your quads and glutes that you may have not felt before if you’re doing dumbbell squats for the first time. Here are some tips.
- Keep a shoulder-width stance with your feet slightly pointed outward
- You’ll hold the dumbbells in the starting position as if you were about to do a shoulder press
- Since you’re probably doing these with light dumbbells, take advantage of that and do a full range squat, going all the way down
- Flex your quads and glutes when you get back to the top of the movement (standing position)
Dumbbell Stiff-leg Deadlifts
Stiff-leg deadlifts are known for working your hamstrings. But doing them with dumbbells can help you target your hams even more. Here are some tips to consider.
- Maintain a slight arch in your lower back; you do not want to round your back
- You’ll start with the dumbbells by your side but then you’ll naturally shift to holding them in front of you as you bend forward; this gives you a better range of motion at the top than you get with a barbell
- Keep the dumbbells close to your body throughout the movement; this will help keep tension on your hamstrings
- Tap into your mind-to-muscle connection and concentrate on making your hamstrings pull your body back up each rep
Dumbbell Sumo Squats
Doing sumo squats with dumbbells is a great exercise to work your inner leg thighs. But you can also target other areas in your legs throughout each rep by making a couple of little shifts. I’m going to show you how to do that below.
- Make sure you have a wide but balanced stance
- Point your feet out but keep the pressure on your heels the entire time
- Don’t let your legs cave in as you squat down; keep them pushed out
- As you’re squatting up, push your legs out even more; this will also involve your outer thighs as you get back to the standing position
- Keep your shoulders blades clinched as much as possible, and have a slight arch in your lower back; this will help with balance, which will help you focus more on working your leg muscles throughout the movement
You’re going to do standard dumbbell lunges here, just like you would at the gym. But the best part about doing these at home is you can expand your range by doing walking lunges outside in your yard or on your patio.
Walking lunges are awesome because throughout every step you take (that was not intended to be a Police song pun!), you’ll target a different part of your leg muscles. Here are some tips to make lunges more effective:
- Take deep strides when doing these; you don’t want your knee to be over your foot
- Keep constant tension on the quad muscle of the leg once your foot that’s stepping out touches the ground; control that rep (you’ll feel your glutes working here, too!)
- As you’re pushing your body back up with that leg, focus on the hamstring muscle of your other leg to assist in that movement; now you’re working the agonist and antagonist muscles at the same time
- Once you’re back at the standing position, give all of your leg muscles a good squeeze before taking the next step with your other leg
There are some muscle-building advantages to working agonist and antagonist muscles together. You can read more about that in my post: Lean and Strong Workout with Agonist and Antagonist Supersets
Dumbbell Toe Raises
Doing toe raises while holding a pair of dumbbells sounds simple enough, and it is. But you’ll find that this exercise requires more balance than you probably thought. So here’s how to do them (without falling over):
- Keep your torso straight and core super tight; this will help you with balance
- Keep the pressure on the balls of your feet throughout the exercise; this will keep constant tension on your calf muscles
- Flex your calves at the top of each rep
- Instead of letting yourself fall back to the starting position, control your reps, forcing the muscles to work harder on the descent of the movement
- The ’75 reps’ you’re doing for this specific exercise will indeed make your calves grow!
I show you more methods to increase intensity with light dumbbells in this post: How to Build Muscle at Home with Light Dumbbells
Making Light Dumbbells Feel Heavy
You can get an awesome workout at home even if all you have is a pair of light dumbbells. The key is to force your muscles to work harder every rep. And to do that requires some intense focus.
Here are some more tips to make your leg workouts effective so you can build muscle at home:
- Concentrate and focus on the muscles you’re targeting throughout each rep
- Even though you’re doing higher reps with lighter weights, don’t rush through your reps
- On the note above, don’t let your form get sloppy
- Try your best to keep tension on your leg muscles during the entire set
- Make sure to stretch your quads and hamstrings between sets and after your workout; this helps reduce soreness and can help with muscle recovery and growth
Earlier, I recommended taking a pre-workout supplement. We all need that extra boost, and the specific product I’m recommending really helps with mental focus, which is key to training at home.
PreFierce is what I’ve been taking and it gives you that energy and mental focus so you can pump out these high reps. And it’s consistent every workout (the effects do not wear off like most pre-workout supplements do).
You can learn more about PreFierce and how to purchase by clicking here.
Try this light dumbbell workout at home on your next leg day. And feel free to share this article.
Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,