Using Dumbbells for an Effective Leg Day Workout

posted on 04/20/2016

In planning a home workout schedule, taking the full body into consideration is important for maximized results and preventing injuries that can sideline your progress. While there are many different plans and workout programs out there, one common solution is to dedicate different days to different muscle groups to keep routines targeted and give your muscle groups time to rest while you work on other areas. Common groupings include abdominals, arms, legs and the back.

What equipment do I need for leg day at home?

Arms, shoulders, back and ab home workouts can be accomplished fairly easily in your home and without much equipment, depending on your regimen. However, leg day can sometimes present a problem with its need for resistance in getting results. While it is commonly stated that an effective leg day workout requires a squat rack and barbell equipment, the space needed for such equipment could be a limitation for your setup.

However, many of the compound workouts that exercise the major leg muscles (hamstrings, calves, glutes and quadriceps) can also be done with a set of dumbbells. Going with dumbbells for your leg day offers many advantages, including less space needed for storage and use, versatility across a multitude of workouts that target different muscle groups, and scalability and expansion with an adjustable dumbbell set. Dumbbells also offer a safer way to perform certain exercises, as many barbell workouts require you to hold the weight on your shoulders, making it difficult to abandon the workout or drop the bar if something goes wrong. With dumbbells, you can simply drop the weights to avoid injury.

Many home gyms don’t have dumbbells that are heavy enough. This is especially true for advanced and intermediate lifters. A good set of adjustable dumbbells weights can be set to over 100lbs. The Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells are a great choice here and can more than cover the weight ranges that you will need. If a base adjustable dumbbell set doesn’t accommodate enough weight for your level of training, look for additional weight plate sets that will allow your dumbbells to meet your workout needs. A weight bench can also be a great piece of equipment to have in your home gym setup. It can be used for many of your workout days for a variety of muscle groups. With an adjustable weight bench, you can adjust for inclines, declines and other angles that add even more variety to your exercise routines.

Leg day exercises that use dumbbells

For a full leg day that exercises the main leg muscles, give yourself at least an hour to complete the different workouts. Not sure where to start? Consider the following 5 compound workouts meant to increase strength and muscle mass in the legs.

Dumbbell Lunges

3-4 Sets for 10 Reps. Lunges primarily work out the quads, but also work the calves, hamstrings and glutes. While performing a lunge, always make sure to keep your back straight and keep your knees from tracking over your toe during the movement in order to prevent knee joint stress.

  1. Select an appropriate but challenging weight of dumbbells and stand up straight while slightly bending your knees. Hold the dumbbells at your sides.
  2. Step forward with one leg and keep the other leg in place. Maintaining your balance, squat at your hips while keeping your back and torso straight.
  3. Starting with your heal, push yourself back to your starting position.
  4. Repeat these steps, alternating the leg you take your beginning step with.

Looking for an extra challenge in your dumbbell lunges? Take your step backwards instead of forwards for an increased challenge in your balance.

Squats with Dumbbells

3-4 Sets for 10 Reps. There are a few options for performing squats with dumbbells. The most common that uses dumbbells in the goblet squat, also known as a front squat. While this compound exercise also hits all the major leg muscles, it can also strengthen your shoulders and your core depending on how you hold the dumbbell.

  1. Stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell vertically by it’s head. This is where you can add some variation – hold the dumbbell at your chest center, higher, or more out for a different engagement of your shoulders and core.
  3. Squat down with your back straight until you achieve a seated position with your hip aligned at your knee.
  4. Return to your beginning position while keeping your back straight.
    *Goblet squats can also be performed with kettlebells, making our adjustable kettlebells a great piece of equipment to have in your home gym.

Dumbbell Step Ups

3-4 Sets for 15 Reps. This is a compound workout that does require a weight bench or an elevated platform. Step ups can also be intensified by raising the platform. During all movements, keep your back straight and eyes looking forward.

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your side and stand up straight in front of your weight bench or elevated platform.
  2. Lift your right leg’s knee, step up onto the platform and firmly plant your foot onto the elevated platform.
  3. Using your firmly planted foot, push into your heal and lift the rest of your body.
  4. Plant your left foot onto the platform and hold.
  5. Step back down with your left foot first and then your left to return to your starting position.
  6. Repeat movement, alternating beginning foot.

Deadlifting with Dumbbells

3-4 Sets for 10 Reps. Deadlifts are an excellent compound exercise that focuses on the hamstrings but also works the other major leg muscles. However, they are an exercise that requires acute attention to form, as a poorly executed deadlift can result in serious injury. One of the biggest things in doing a deadlift is to keep your back straight and not round it. Keeping your eyes up can help in preventing this. Another big misstep in a deadlift is bending at the waist without moving your hip back. This moves the strain from your hamstrings to your lower back, which can also lead to serious injury.

  1. Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent. Hold your dumbbells at your sides. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. While keeping your back straight, bend over at your waist. While bending over, your hips should move back if you are using proper form. Your knees should not move at this point and you should be lowering the dumbbells over your feet.
  3. You should feel engagement in your hamstrings. Continue to lower the dumbbells until you can’t go any lower comfortably
  4. .Without rounding your back, raise the dumbbells back up. Keep your eyes up and lift the dumbbells in a straight movement until you reach your starting position.

Hamstring Curl with Dumbbells

3-4 Sets for 10 Reps. This is another workout that requires a workout bench to complete. Hamstring curls are an isolation workout, meaning they target only the hamstrings. During this exercise, try to keep your upper body and legs as still as possible and make sure that the dumbbell weight you select isn’t so heavy that it causes your body to sway.

  1. Select your dumbbell weight and stand the dumbbell on the ground by the end of the bench.
  2. Lay on the bench face down and align your knees with the end of the bench. Fully extend your legs so they hang past the edge of the bench.
  3. Using your feet and keeping your upper body and legs stiff, pick up the dumbbell between your arches.
  4. Bending your knees and focusing on moving the weight with your hamstring, curl the dumbbell in a controlled movement.
  5. Pause when you have raised the dumbbell to a comfortable position and then lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.

In planning out your home workout schedule, remember that rest days for your muscle groups are equally important. Give yourself 4-5 days between leg days to allow full recovery. During rest days, switch to other muscle groups and consider adding a day for cardio.

Don’t have all the home gym equipment you need for a full body workout? Ironmaster home gym equipment offers durable, adjustable and versatile equipment including adjustable dumbbells, adjustable kettlebells, our popular Super Bench, weight cages and much more. Shop today for Ironmaster direct pricing!

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