Get Strong With This Dumbbell Legs And Core Workout

Woman holding dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are very few sports, disciplines or everyday activities in which you wouldn’t benefit from strong leg and core muscles. Together, these enable you to sit, stand, run and jump, and account for more than half of your body’s skeletal musculature.

Given your legs include the large quads, hamstrings and glute muscles, training them is also a sure-fire way to torch a shedload of calories and enjoy some bonus conditioning. 

For this legs and core workout from Carl Vanheerden, personal trainer and 1Rebel coach, all you need is a pair of dumbbells.

“The goal of this session is to build lower-body strength using a slow tempo and controlled reps,” says Vanheerden. “Combining leg exercises with abdominal moves will provide an added all-round core challenge. At the end of this session your glutes, quads and abs should all be on fire.”

Dumbbell Leg And Core Workout

Vanheerden’s legs and core workout combines four phases.

If you are doing this workout at home and only have one pair of dumbbells, consider using just one weight at a time if you struggle to hit the target reps. Alternatively, if your weights are on the light side, slow the tempo to keep the muscles under tension for longer. 

And if you need to upgrade your home gym set-up have a look at our selection of the best dumbbells, which include adjustable dumbbells with multiple weight settings. They’re just the ticket to take on this workout and this four-week dumbbell workout plan


Perform three rounds of these two exercises, taking minimal rest between each exercise. 

1 Lunge with floor reach

Reps 10 each side

Step forwards into a deep lunge, then lean forwards and reach to touch the floor in front of your leading foot. Reverse the movement and repeat on the other side. The movement will engage your glutes and simultaneously increase your range of motion. Add a pair of very light dumbbells if you have these to hand. 

2 Bent hollow hold

Time 40sec

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your shoulder blades off the floor to engage your core, keeping your arms extended and parallel to the floor. Now lift your feet off the floor until there’s a 90° bend at your hips. Hold this position, pressing your lower back into the floor throughout. 

Strength Superset 1

Complete four rounds, resting for 60-90 seconds between supersets. The higher your rate of perceived exertion, the longer you should rest. 

1A Racked dumbbell 1½  squat

Sets 4 Reps 10-12 Rest 0sec

Carefully lift the weights up to partly rest them on your shoulders. Position your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath, brace your core and slowly lower for a count of three seconds into a squat position, keeping your knees wide. Pause at the bottom for one second. Rise halfway up, then back down, then drive up powerfully while you exhale to return to standing.

1B Walking plank

Sets 4 Reps 16 Rest 60-90sec

Start in a forearm plank position. Keep your core and glutes engaged as you push up on to your hands one at a time so that you’re at the top of a press-up, then return to the start position. Lead with your left arm for half of the reps, then your right for the other half to work your core evenly.

Strength Superset 2

This second superset is done EMOM-style – it  stands for every minute on the minute – but using a two-minute timeframe. Complete one round every two minutes for five rounds (10 minutes in total), resting for the remainder of the 120 seconds each round. Think strategically – either pace yourself or rattle through the reps quickly to give you more time to rest. 

1 Dumbbell reverse lunge

Reps 12

Stand holding dumbbells by your sides. Keeping your torso upright, step back into a reverse lunge, allowing your back knee to softly touch the floor, before driving back up. Alternate legs with each rep. 

2 V-up and V-tuck

Reps 12

Lie on the floor with your arms extended behind your head. Breathe in and press your lower back into the floor to engage your core muscles. Start with a V-up by raising your legs and arms, keeping them extended and aiming to touch your toes above your hips, then lower back to the start. Continue into a V-tuck by bringing your knees and torso together, then return to the start. That’s one rep.  


Complete three rounds of the below with good form as fast as possible. Rest for 60 seconds between rounds. If you have access to a variety of weights, Vanheerden recommends using a medium-heavy weight for the dumbbell swings and a light-moderate weight for the plank pull-throughs and squat jumps.

1 Half burpee

Time 60sec

From standing, bend down and put your hands on the floor either side of your feet. Jump or step your feet back to the top of a press-up and lower your chest to the floor. Drive back up, step or jump your feet forwards and stand back up. 

2 Dumbbell swing

Reps 16

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding one end of a dumbbell in both hands. Hinge forwards at your hips to allow it to swing between your legs. As it swings forwards again, drive your hips forwards to generate momentum and power the weight up to shoulder height. Keep your core and glutes engaged and your back flat throughout.

3 Dumbbell plank pull-through 

Reps 12

Start in a high plank with your arms straight and a dumbbell positioned to one side. With the arm on the opposite side, reach through to take hold of the weight and bring it across to the other side. Focus on using your core and glutes to keep your body stable throughout. 

4 Sumo squat jump


Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding one end of a dumbbell with both hands and arms straight so it hangs between your legs, close to your body. Keeping your chest up and core braced, lower into a squat to gently tap the weight on the floor, then drive up to jump off the floor. Land with soft knees and continue into the next rep.

Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.