If strong, sexy legs are on your body must-have list, you might think you either need access to a weight room or to run long distances. While each of those can certainly help, neither are mandatory. In fact, you can shape your legs at home with a simple set of dumbbells. Don’t have those? Look for objects around your home of equal weight that you can easily hold in your hand, such as gallons of milk, buckets of books, or easy to grip canned goods. And if you’re just starting out with a workout routine, you could likely get by with bodyweight for a hands-free, leg-toning workout. Now let’s get the lower body burning…
Dumbbell Step Ups: Walking flights of stairs can ignite your leg muscles on fire, and so can mimicking that movement in one place. Beginners will want to start with a lower step of about 12-inches high, while those who are more advance can step up to a bench that is about 18- to 21-inches high. Choose a platform that is sturdy, such as an actual staircase, a workout bench, a wooden exercise box, or a chair that is anchored against a wall. With a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, stand in front of the platform and step up with your right foot and bring your left foot up to join. Step down with your right foot and bring your left foot down to join. On the next step up, complete the same rep, but leading with your left foot. Switch back and forth between each side until you’ve completed 20 reps.
Reverse Lunges: Walking lunges are one great way to build great legs. However, if you’re bored with that movement and want to switch it up a bit, reverse the direction. Start with your feet hip-width distance apart. Keep your right foot planted while stepping back with your left leg. The step should be wide enough to allow your right need to stay above your ankle (and not over your toes), allowing your left thigh to come nearly parallel with the ground. Push off with the right foot to step back and meet the left. Repeat on the other side, walking a total of 30 steps while holding dumbbells in your hands at your sides.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust: Similar to a bridge pose in yoga, the dumbbell hip thrust can create strong hip flexors, thighs, and buttocks, while at the same time strengthening your core. Rest your upper back on a sturdy surface, such as a bench or chair, and create a table like surface with your legs in a 90-degree position. Place and hold a dumbbell on each leg so that it is resting on your lap. Slowly lower your butt toward the floor, making sure to use a strong core. Return to the starting position by driving your heels into the floor and thrusting your hips back to a plank-like position. Complete two rounds of 15 reps. If this movement is difficult for you, perform the exercises on the floor to decrease the intensity.
Kneeling Dumbbell Leg Lift: Who needs a leg curl machine when you can create the same movement with a dumbbell? Start on all fours on the ground, with your knees below your hips. You can choose to stay on your hands (keeping them below your shoulders) or you can go onto your forearms. Place and balance a dumbbell behind your right knee. If needed, bend your leg slightly to keep the weight in position. Kick your right foot toward the ceiling, and then reverse the rep bring your knee in toward your chest. Focus on your leg muscles doing the work, and avoid letting momentum control the movement. Complete three rounds of 12 reps on each leg.
Dumbbell Step Ups
Beginner: 20 total step ups to a surface of 12” to 18”, with dumbbell weights below 10 lbs
Advanced: 2 rounds of 15 total step ups to a surface above 18”, with dumbbell weights above 10 lbs
Beginner: 30 total backward lunge steps, with dumbbell weights below 10 lbs
Advanced: 2 rounds of 25 total backward lunge steps, with dumbbell weights above 10 lbs
Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Beginner: Two rounds of 15 reps on the ground, with dumbbell weights below 10 lbs
Intermediate: Two rounds of 15 reps on a raised surface, with dumbbell weights above 10 lbs
Advanced: Two rounds of 12 reps on a raised surface, with one leg extended out (complete 12 reps on each leg). Use dumbbell weights above 10 lbs.
Kneeling Dumbbell Leg Lift
Beginner: Three rounds of 12 reps (each leg), with a weight below 10 lbs
Advanced: Three rounds of 15 reps (each leg), with a weight above 10 lbs
Do you have a favorite dumbbell exercise? Share it with others in the comments!