The Perfect Dumbbell Leg Day Workout for Beginners

If the core is the body's tree trunk, the legs are the roots. They anchor the body, so strengthening them helps reduce the risk of injury by providing stability. A January 2018 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research even suggests that building lower-body strength also positively affects your upper-body strength.

Squats are an essential addition to any leg day workout.
Credit: Prostock-Studio/iStock/GettyImages

Intimidated by starting a new, leg-centric workout regimen? There's no need to be. You can start with basic body-weight exercises like squats and lunges and build from there. "[But] don't go too hard too fast," says Noam Tamir, CSCS, owner of TS Fitness. "You can always push harder the next time around. Make sure to keep with the 6 to 7 out of 10 difficulty level."

Ready to sculpt stronger, leaner legs? Do this beginner leg day routine the next time you hit the gym — or try it at home!

Try This Quick Beginners Leg Day Workout

Tamir designed this leg day workout of body-weight and dumbbell exercises with newbies in mind. Whether you have access to a gym or plan on doing the moves in the comfort of your own home, it doesn't require much space.

But beginners aren't the only ones who can benefit from this workout. Leg day enthusiasts need only up the rep count or weight recommendation. Ultimately, the most important thing is taking care of your body and listening to its needs.

"Make sure to put in rest days," Tamir says. "This helps to maximize results and lessen the chance for overtraining and injury." He recommends leaving a 48 to 72 hour window between leg day workouts.

Warm-Up

Do: 2 sets of each warm-up exercises for 10 reps on each side

Move 1: Standing Knee Grabs

Begin warming up with two rounds of standing knee grabs — 10 on each side.
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your core tight as you grab your left knee and pull it up and toward your chest.
  2. Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then release.
  3. Repeat the motions with your right leg.

Reps: 10 on each side

Move 2: Standing Kickouts

The standing kickouts complete the warm-up.
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and brace your core. With your feet flexed, raise your left foot off the ground, as you bring your right arm to meet the leg.
  2. Repeat the motion with your right leg, as you bring your left arm to meet it.

Reps: 10 on each side

Superset 1: Strength Focus

Do: both exercises back to back without rest for 2 to 3 rounds, resting 30 seconds between each set. Then rest 60 seconds before moving onto the next set of exercises.

Move 1: Dumbbell Front Squat

The dumbbell front squat is part of the strength focus superset.
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders. Make sure one end of each dumbbell is resting on top of each shoulder with elbows facing forward.
  3. With a straight back and tall chest, squat down by bending your hips back. Lower into the squat until your thighs are at or slightly below parallel to the floor (or however far down your mobility allows).
  4. Return to the start by pressing through your heels and extending your knees and hips. Clench your glutes as you stand.

Reps: 10-12
Weight recommendation: 8 to 12 pounds for beginners, 15 to 25 pounds for advanced

Read more: 22 New Lunges to Supercharge Leg Day

Move 2: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

The dumbbell Romanian deadlift is part of the strength focus superset.
  1. Keeping your core tight, shoulder blades together and chest high, position yourself with feet about shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells in front of your thighs.
  2. Push your butt back and bend your knees slightly until as you lower the weight toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  3. Using the muscles in the back of your body, stand up.

Reps: 10 to 12
Weight recommendation: 8 to 12 pounds for beginners, 15 to 25 pounds for advanced

Superset 2: Stability Focus

Do: both exercises back to back without rest for 2 to 3 rounds, resting 30 seconds between each set. Then rest 60 seconds before moving onto the next set of exercises.

Move 1: Single Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

The single dumbbell reverse lunge is part of the stability focus superset.
  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Keep a tight core, making sure your shoulders are down and back, chest is out and spine is neutral. Hold the dumbbell by your left side with a straight arm.
  2. Step directly back with your left foot, making sure your chest is up and your feet are in alignment.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat. Switch the dumbbell to your right arm when stepping back with the right leg.

Reps: 12 to 15 on each side
Weight recommendation: 8 to 12 pounds for beginners, 15 to 25 pounds for advanced

Read more: Here's Exactly What to Do on Leg Day

Move 2: Body-Weight Single-Leg Deadlift

The body-weight single-leg deadlift is part of the stability focus superset.
  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart. Balance on one leg, pushing your left leg up and back while you inch your upper body forward.
  2. As your upper body comes forward, core engaged, use your left arm to help stabilize yourself.
  3. Return to standing.

Reps: 12 to 15 on each side

Superset 3: Endurance Focus

Do: both exercises back to back without rest for 2 to 3 rounds, resting 30 seconds between each set. Then rest 60 seconds before moving onto the next set of exercises.

Move 1: Marching Bridges

The marching bridges are part of the endurance focus superset.
  1. Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and feet near your butt.
  2. Lift your hips upward into a glute bridge.
  3. From this position, lift your left foot and bring the knee in toward your stomach.
  4. Set your left foot back down and repeat with the other leg.

Reps: 15 to 20

Read more: 11 Leg-Day Truths You'll Relate to on a Spiritual Level

Move 2: Offset Stance Body-Weight Squats

The offset stance body-weight squats are part of the endurance focus superset.
  1. Start in a regular squat position, with feet about shoulder-width apart. Take one foot and slide it back, so that the ball of the foot is about 12 inches behind the other foot.
  2. Keep the heel of the back foot elevated and push the hips down as you would in a typical squat.
  3. Come back up to starting position.

Reps: 15 to 20 on each side

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