What’s the main difference between lifting with barbells vs dumbbells? Actually, don’t think too hard, we’ll just tell you. It’s the fact that a barbell is one piece of equipment and dumbbells are two. Might not seem like a huge deal, but it is. In theory, you could probably find a way to tie all dumbbell leg exercises to a barbell leg exercise – squats, for example. However, there’s a ton of value to be realized when you have the added flexibility of working-out with a weight in each hand, versus one bar that lies across your body.
Get Ready to Sweat
This added flexibility opens the door to a lot of workouts that will make you sweat. Dumbbell variations of lunges and step-ups come to mind. These workouts are higher-rep in nature and will require core stability. This combination will absolutely get the heart rate up. It’s not uncommon in a workout to complement the low-rep barbell lifts with high-rep dumbbell reps.
Remember to Start Slow
Dumbbell leg exercises will also include variations of traditional workouts meant to target different leg muscles. For example, the dumbbell lateral lunge, and the dumbbell plie squat. Similar to the barbell squat, it’s important to make sure the form is correct before increasing weight. Don’t be afraid to try these workouts first with just your bodyweight before adding the dumbbells. As you start to do these workouts on Daily Spot, remember the goal is for you to improve yourself, NOT to injure yourself. If you’re looking for the best way to incorporate these into a workout, get on Grant’s Body Series: Legs program ASAP. His program updates every day, so you’ll never have to worry about creating your own leg workouts ever again. Check out some Dumbbell Leg Exercise examples below:
Dumbbell Lateral Step-up
Hold a dumbbell in each hand standing to the side of a knee-high box or a bench. Lift one leg and place your foot on top of the box. Press with your heel and step to the top of the box or bench. Step back down and repeat with the other leg.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand facing a box at knee height or a bench. Lift one leg and place your foot on top of the box. Press with your heel and step to the top of the box or bench. Step back down and repeat with the other leg.
Dumbbell Walking Lunge
While standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Step forward with one foot about 2 or 3 feet. Keep torso upright and lower body toward ground. Bend knees to 90 degree angles. Press through the front heel and walk other leg in front.
Kettlebell Goblet Squat
Start by holding a kettlebell at shoulder height with both hands, elbows forward. With a straight torso, bend the knees and lower your body until knees reach 90 degrees. Keep your knees from going over the toe line. Exhale and stand back up to starting position.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart with a kettlebell placed in front of you. Grab the kettlebell with both hands, by bending at the waist. "Hike" the kettlebell between your legs and then drive your hips forward swinging the kettlebell forward.
Lying Machine Hamstring Curl
Lie face down on machine with pad of the lever between calves and heel. Keep your body tight and isolating your legs, curl the pad up to your butt. Slowly return to starting position.
Single-Leg Dumbbell Split Squat
Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with one foot behind you on a bench, toe down. While keeping your torso upright, lower your back knee toward the ground. Stop before the knee touches the ground. Press through the front heel and stand back up.
Dumbbell Split Squat
Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Place one foot behind you in a lunge position. While keeping your chest up and spine straight, lower your back knee toward the ground. Stop just before the knee touches the ground, press through the front heel and stand back up.
Dumbbell Push Press
Hold dumbbells at shoulder level with dumbbells facing forward. With feet shoulder width apart bend your knees. Keeping back straight and torso tight, straighten your legs and push the dumbbells over your head.
Dumbbell Squat Jump
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with feet shoulder-width. Keeping torso upright and tight, squat down until knees are only slight bent. Keep weight primarily in heels and knees behind toe line. Lower and explode up. Land on your feet gently.
Leg Machine Calf Raise
Lie on a seat and place top of feet on the platform in front of you with legs extended. Do not lock leg. Push platform out using top of your feet. You should feel this in your calves.