Dumbbells are just about the most ubiquitous and timeless piece of exercise equipment; you’ll find them anywhere from high-end gyms and boutique studios to just about any basement. And while they may be simple, they’re an effective way to build muscle. Here, we’ll talk with a trainer about how to build and strengthen legs using dumbbells, and what dumbbell workout is most effective for legs.
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You can definitely build legs with dumbbells — you just have to be willing to push yourself. “You can build your leg muscles and any other part of your body with dumbbells as long as you follow the rules of progression and intensity. Intensity is where you push yourself as hard as possible to make your body feel like it has to grow muscle in order to adapt to what you’re asking of it,” Jamie Hickey, nutritionist, trainer and Founder of Truism Fitness tells Lively. He adds that progression is equally important; this means increasing the amount of weight you use every week so that your body doesn’t adapt (and stop building muscle). If you can’t use heavier weights, then do more reps, he suggests.
You can strengthen your legs with dumbbells but it’s best to target all muscles in the legs so the muscles grow at an even rate.
“You have to create a fitness routine that will target the glutes, thighs, hamstrings and calves. You want to make sure that you’re training each muscle equally so that you don’t cause a muscle to compensate for another weaker muscle, this will cause you to become injured later on,” Hickey says. So make sure to focus beyond the calves and quads for a balanced leg workout.
You can build leg muscles without weights by doing calisthenic exercises like squats and lunges. With that said, it’s hard to build past a certain point using only body weight. “If you are new to resistance training you can build up your leg muscles with bodyweight exercises, but it will be hard to progress past a certain point since you can’t add any more weight to your training routine unless you use weights or a weighted vest,” Hickey says.
You can try the following dumbbell workout, which will work all parts of the leg, as suggested by Hickey.
Each move is going to consist of 3 sets: