Dumbbell only Leg Workout

If you find yourself needing a remix for your current leg workouts, and only have dumbbells available, then you are in luck. 

In this article, I will be breaking down the exercises our very own Jessie Allen uses to build, tone, and strengthen her lower body. So if you’re looking for some new ways to build muscle in your legs and glutes, then keep reading.

Secret Benefits of Legs Day

Once upon a time, there was a man named Joe. Joe wanted to get noticed by people. He wanted them to look at him on the street and say, “Wow, that guy has got it all, what a catch!” He wanted his exes to feel bad about their breakups and regret having left him. So, Joe did what any logical person would do. He very briefly considered all the ways in which he could improve himself — reading, self-reflection, focusing on his goals (or at least getting goals) — and came to the conclusion that none of that other stuff mattered. If he could get swole, he’d be the “man.”

Joe had some weird outlooks on life. 

He got a gym membership, and lo and behold, those weird outlooks on life carried over into his training sessions. He obsessively researched how to build bulging biceps, a massive chest, and, just like his decision to neglect his inner self, he decided that if he had a great upper body, no one would notice his legs (or lack thereof). In fact, no one ever did notice Joe’s legs. But that’s only because they never really noticed Joe.

That is, up until Joe found a mentor and said mentor guided Joe to enlightenment.
The person who doth skip legs day, skips life. For it is only through the pain and anguish of legs day accomplishment that a gender neutral pronoun can achieve greatness. And it is also true that building legs is key to building a quality life, for legs are the foundation upon which all else is built. ” — Joe’s mentor

Joe learned. Joe’s outlooks on life changed. And when they did, he became noticed by everyone as a good man. A strong man. A kind man. Smart and intelligent, and…whoa! Check out the glutes on that Joe guy!

However, Joe was also enlightened. He loved himself. He did not need the external validation. And all this life-changing goodness came from one powerful habit:

Joe never skipped legs day. 

Supersets for super shape

A superset is when two exercises are performed back-to-back without any rest between. They’re an effective way to increase the intensity of a workout, drive muscles past failure (if combining two exercises that target similar muscle groups), accelerate heart rate, and get more work into a training session in a shorter period of time.

Exercise #1: Dumbbell Goblet Sumo Squats superset with Sumo RDL

Ever wonder why sumo wrestlers have such massive hamstrings and glutes? It’s not because these hungry, hungry hippos eat enough food to feed an entire village. It’s not because they’re as powerful as hippos, and equally as aggro either (in case you didn’t know, hippos are actually terrifying demons). The reason sumo wrestlers got all the lower body gains is because of how often they utilize their traditional sumo squat stance. 

That’s not remotely true, but it is a sumo stance you will be taking when performing these exercises. The reason is due to how effectively a wider stance targets the following muscles:

Quadriceps, gluteus muscles, hips, hamstrings, calves, and inner thighs.

Now, obviously none of you reading this want legs like a sumo wrestler. Hell, even those who treasure their thunder thighs and throw shade at society’s love of the “thigh gap” (but hopefully not those who have a thigh gap because that’s also toxic body shaming and we should accept all bodies as beautiful) probably don’t want the same shaped lower body as a chubby toddler. 

Luckily, just like performing exercises to build the lower chest, effectively developing your muscles using sumo squats will do the opposite of making you look sumo. It’ll give you some sleek sexy lower body gains — and shreddedness. 

How To Perform Goblet Sumo Squats

  1. Grab a dumbbell that you can perform the appropriate amount of reps with. Holding it so that it’s about level with your clavicle, cradle the dumbbell in your hands by the upper plate.
  2. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Give yourself a few feet and stand wide.
  3. Angle the toes out and away from the center of your body.
  4. Bend the knees and the hips to lower into your squat, squeezing your glutes at the bottom of the move.
  5. Be mindful to keep your back neutral and long, drawing the tailbone straight down to the floor each time. Avoid allowing your knees to go out beyond your toes or allowing your upper torso to lean forward.
  6. Once lowered, press up to standing, driving up through your heels.

How to Perform Sumo RDLs (Romanian Deadlifts)

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your waist, hands should be at about shoulder width apart. 
  2. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward.
  3. Be sure to align your neck with the rest of your back to avoid hyperextension. 
  4. Plugging your shoulders back and down to secure your spine and brace your core, hinge your torso forward at the hips — keeping your spine long. 
  5. Tighten your glutes, hamstrings and core and push through your feet to stand back up. Squeeze your glutes and lock out your hips at the top. 
  6. Then, lower the weight between your knees and toes, maintaining a flat back and repeat.

Exercise #2: Lunge Pulses superset with Lateral Lunges

In the ancient days when evil entities needed to be cast back to the shadow realm using deadly, holy attacks, monks had to train diligently and adhere to the Way of Asceticism (and aesthetics). They made careful study of a magical energy that most monastic traditions call ki. This energy is an element of the magic that suffuses the multiverse — specifically, the element that flows through living bodies, blessing ascetics with gloriously gluteiful gains and aesthetics.

They eventually discovered two potent exercises that would help them prepare their ki for battle. Their exercise(s) of choice were the very same exercise Jessie Allen is performing in this workout video. (We believe that these powerful ki movements were passed down to her through a long line of holy warriors, but despite our best attempts, she won’t divulge the names of her ancestors — hmmm, suspicious).

The monks developed these two exercises with aesthetics and ki in mind. Despite resembling a movement one might perform after defeating their friends in Halo (I’m that old), the Lunge Pulses actually work to simultaneously activate the root chakra and gather energy from Gaia. Like the phone’s icon of a charging battery, each rep collects more charged energy, until by the end of the set, the entire chakra system is filled with powerful energy (so long as they’re aligned, of course).

Less importantly, lunge pulses also help develop the glutes, hamstrings, stabilization muscles, and inner quads.

Once the first exercise was completed, monks would move to performing lateral lunges. Scholars believe this is because lateral lunges helped with three things in preparing for waging war on evil.

  1. Monks were often very old. Lateral lunges helped limber them up.
  2. The side to side movement helped the monks channel their ki.
  3. It also improved their ability to perform majestic maneuvers and gain critical hits with their devastating kicks
  4. Most importantly: Monks, as everyone knows, wear robes that often show lots of leg, and therefore need to have shredded, muscular legs. Lateral Lunges help develop, strengthen, and shape the glutes, quads, as well as hamstrings.

Anyway, this isn’t an article about channeling your ki, or aligning your chakras. It’s about getting a good dumbbell leg workout. So, here’s how to perform the Lunge Pulse and Lateral Lunge — for muscular development, not for channeling ki.

How to perform Lunge Pulses

  1. Grab a dumbbell appropriate for the desired rep range, hold in your left hand
  2. From a standing start, step your right foot forward like a regular lunge
  3. Lunge down into about a full lunge position. This is the starting position.
  4. Begin by pulsing up and down, performing about ¾ of the movement. 
  5. Be sure to remain in a lunge position throughout the exercise, and to not pause or lock out.
  6. Once you’ve completed this side, do the same for the other.

How to perform Lateral Lunges

  1. Begin by standing with feet about shoulder width apart, toes facing forward
  2. Hold the dumbbell at about clavicle height, horizontally so that both plates are in a hand.
  3. Step laterally to the right, sit your hips back and shift your weight body to the right, while straightening out your left leg
  4. Lower yourself into a lunge until your right knee makes a 90° angle or right thigh is parallel to the floor, while keeping your left foot flat on the floor
  5. Push into the ground through your right foot to shift back into the starting position
  6. Step into a lateral lunge on the left side
  7. Repeat for desired number of reps

Exercise #3: Glute Bridge superset with Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge

We’ve talked about sumo wrestlers and monks so far, and as much as I’d like to continue on with the theme, I passed the absurdity threshold long ago. So, I’ll keep it simple.

Glute bridges help develop the butt. I’m not talking about the type of voluptuous booties found in the noble philosopher Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Discussions on Baby Got Back, either. No, I’m referring to glutes. Because that’s what the Glute Bridge might as well be. The Holy Grail of Glute Development, if you will. 

The addition of the Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge adds some unilateral movement into the exercise, which can be beneficial in many ways. For one, it requires more stability. And for two, unilateral movements help with muscle mind connection, so in case one side isn’t feeling particularly cheeky, then adding these in is a must! (Sir Mix-a-Lot says so)   

How to perform Glute Bridges

  1. Lie on your back with feet flat against the floor and knees bent. 
  2. Place the dumbbell width wise across the hips or groin, and keep it steady by placing both hands on the outsides of the plates
  3. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off of the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. 
  4. Pause at the top, then lower back down to the starting position.

How to perform Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge

  • Lie faceup with your arms at your sides, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. 
  • Place your right leg on a bench or step and lift your left leg straight up toward the ceiling. 
  • Hold a dumbbell at your right thigh.
  • Engage your core, squeeze your butt, and press through your right heel to raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your right knee. 
  • Pause for a second or so at the top of the move.
  • Slowly lower your hips back to the floor. 
  • Do this for the desired amount of reps, then switch legs and repeat.

Learn how to do this leg workout dumbbell technique.

Workout (to Screenshot)

ExerciseSets + RepsRest
WOKE AF Super Curl (performed by scooping
pre-workout WOKE AF from container, mixing in water, then drinking)
1 x 5-120 secondsN/A
DB Goblet Sumo Squats
Sumo RDL
4 x 15
4 x 15
45-90 seconds
Lunge Pulses
Lateral Lunges
4 x 15
4 x 15
45-90 seconds
Hip Thrusts
Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge
4 x 12
4 x 12
45-90 seconds