Never skip leg day, they say, but it’s ever so easy to – especially if your legs workout involves lots of equipment and you can only get to the gym when it’s too busy to guarantee you’ll get hold of the kit you need. In that event, just secure a set of dumbbells and sub in this spicy session. It will work every muscle in your lower body, while also developing power and muscular endurance.
The workout is simple: do 100 reps of five lower-body moves.
How you split this is up to you, but we recommend doing 20 reps of each move, back to back, and repeating that sequence five times in total.
Aim to rest as little as possible. You want to keep your lower-body muscles under tension for as sustained a period as possible.
As to how heavy a dumbbell you should choose, feel free to mix up the weights if you have a well-stocked dumbbell rack to yourself. However, if your gym (or home dumbbell selection) lacks choice, pick one that offers resistance without causing you to move at a snail’s pace.
1 Dumbbell squat
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells by your shoulders. Keep your gaze forwards, chest up and back flat as you push your hips back and bend your knees to lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push through your heels to rise.
2 Dumbbell reverse lunge
Stand holding dumbbells, either by your sides or by your shoulders – whichever you find more comfortable while performing the following. Step back with your left foot and bend your knees to lower until your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your back knee is hovering above the floor. Then push through your front heel to return to standing. Alternate legs with each rep.
3 Dumbbell deadlift
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees, holding dumbbells with an overhand grip in front of your thighs. Engage your core and push your hips back, lowering your torso so the dumbbells travel down the front of your body. When the weights reach the middle of your shins, pause, then push through your heels to rise. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the move.
4 Dumbbell lunge
Repeat the movement detailed above, but take a step forwards instead of back. The forward lunge places a little more emphasis on your quads, while the reverse asks more of your hamstrings and glutes.
5 Dumbbell swing
Stand upright holding a dumbbell in both hands, hands together and feet shoulder-width apart. With a flat back and soft knees, using a thrusting movement from the hips, swing the dumbbell up to eye level, then lower back to the start. Push your hips back again as you do, then thrust them forwards again to swing the dumbbell back up. If you find it too easy with one dumbbell, you can use two.
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Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.