The Best Science-Based DUMBBELL Legs Exercises For Size And Symmetry

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Jeremy Ethier
Published at : 11 Dec 2020
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To be honest, when it comes to a leg workout, nothing really beats doing some heavy deadlifts or some back squats. However, sometimes we may have to change our leg exercises depending on our circumstances and equipment availability (e.g. leg workout at home). Today, I’ll show you how get in an intense lower body workout with only dumbbells. But, before we go through the exercises for this dumbbell leg workout routine, we first need to talk about rep ranges for your legs exercises. Instead of using our typical moderate rep ranges, we’ll use higher reps for most of our dumbbell leg exercises sets and focus on simply taking each of our sets close enough to failure so that our leg muscles are sufficiently activated despite using lighter weight.

The first exercise we’ll start with for our leg workout is the dumbbell squat jumps. This will not only work most of our lower body muscles like the quads and glutes, but will also help improve our athleticism and can help better prepare our lower body muscles and nervous system for the rest of the workout. Squat down to just above parallel instead of all the way down, and then explode on the way up with near maximal effort for a total of just 6 reps for 4 or 5 sets. Next, we’re going to move onto the skater squat. The key difference between this exercise and other single leg squat variations or the back squat is that the hips travel further backwards and the torso inclines further forwards, which results in significantly greater activation of the hamstrings and the glutes.

Next we’re going to move onto a quad dominant lunge variation in our dumbbell leg workout. The easiest lunge variation out there are split squats. Given that the skater squats we performed prior to this already did a great job of emphasizing our hamstrings and glutes, we want to make this exercise more quads-focused. We can do just that by narrowing our stance during our setup and maintaining an upright torso so that your front knee can travel forward more. Now if you think you need an even tougher movement or only have access to lighter dumbbells, then simply perform what’s known as a Bulgarian Split Squat where you elevate your rear foot to place an even greater load on your forward leg.

Next, in this leg workout suitable to be done at home, we’ll focus on the hamstrings with the single leg romanian deadlift, which has a few benefits over a double leg: you’re not going to need as much weight to load the muscles – and you’re going to get more activation from stability muscles. If you find this a little too difficult to balance, you can start with a regression by using a split stance and use your back leg to provide a little more stability. Next, we’re going to perform the lying dumbbell curl to further target the hamstrings but with a knee flexion dominant movement instead. This is important to do since the short head of the biceps femoris, one of our hamstring muscles, crosses over the knee joint and can only be trained through knee flexion.

We’ll use something called an adductor bridge to end off this intense lower body workout with only dumbbells. This is especially important as strengthening the adductors greatly reduces the chance of groin injuries. Lastly, to finish off the workout with some more volume, we’re going to use dumbbell goblet squats. Since our legs are already quite pre-fatigued from our previous exercises, we’ll be able to provide greater muscular fatigue to our legs with this exercise even though we’re using relatively lighter weight. Push hard and focus on accumulating volume for these, and feel free to take these sets to failure.

Here’s the full list of dumbbell leg exercises:

Dumbbell Jump Squats: 4 sets of 6 power reps (~2 min rest between sets)
Skater Squat: 3 sets each leg (~45 second rest between legs)
Quad-Dominant Lunge Variation: 3 sets each leg (~45 seconds rest between legs)
SLRD: 3 sets each leg (~45 seconds rest between legs)
Lying DB Leg Curl: 3 sets of 6-8 slow reps (90 seconds rest between sets)
Copenhagen Adductor Bridge: 2 sets of 6-8 reps (30 seconds rest between legs)
DB Goblet Squat: 1-3 sets to failure

Even if you don’t have a ton of fancy equipment, by taking the time to carefully select your exercises and properly implement them, you can create an effective muscle building workout that also doesn’t overlook important muscle groups. And for a step by step science based program that shows you step by step, and week after week how to work out and how to eat to get the best results regardless of what equipment you may or may not have, then simply take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:
https://builtwithscience.com/bws-free-fitness-quiz/

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