Unfortunately, many of us have not had access to our normal gym and equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kinesiologist Jeremy Ethier, fitness trainer, and founder of Built with Science, gets it. However, one piece of equipment that many of us have in our home gyms or living rooms are dumbbells, and according to him, that’s really all you need to get a great workout that can lead to serious leg gains. But you’ll need to adjust your rep ranges, assuming you’re working with much lighter weight than you would if you had access to a fully-stocked gym.
“Instead of using our typical moderate rep ranges, we’ll use higher reps for most of our dumbbell leg exercises sets and focus on simply taking each of our sets close enough to failure so that our leg muscles are sufficiently activated despite using lighter weight,” says Ethier. “This is what’s most important for muscle growth.”
With that in mind, here are Ethier’s picks for the 8 best exercises you can do with dumbbells to grow your leg muscles.
Exercise 1: Dumbbell Squat Jumps
According to Ethier, this will not only work most of our lower body muscles like the quads and glutes, but will also help improve your athleticism and can help better prepare our lower body muscles and nervous system for the rest of the workout.
To do them right, squat down to just above parallel instead of all the way down, and then explode on the way up with near maximal effort. Do 4 sets of 6 power reps (approximately 2 minute rest between sets). This is the one exercise in this workout you should not train to failure.
Exercise 2: Skater Squat
Ethier says this is the hardest strength movement of this workout.
“The key difference between this exercise and other single leg squat variations or the back squat is that the hips travel further backwards and the torso inclines further forwards, which results in significantly greater activation of the hamstrings and the glutes,” says Ethier.
Holding a light dumbbell out in front of you, drop your back leg and squat back up using your front leg. It’s almost like a reverse lunge, except your back foot never hits the ground. Do 3 sets on each leg (approximately 45 second rest between legs).
Exercise 3: Quad-Dominant Lunge Variation
“The easiest lunge variation out there are split squats. Given that the skater squats we performed prior to this already did a great job of emphasizing our hamstrings and glutes, we want to make this exercise more quads-focused,” says Ethier.
To do these, narrow your stance during your setup and maintain an upright torso so that your front knee can travel forward more. Do 3 sets on each leg (about 45 seconds rest between legs).
Exercise 4: Bulgarian Split Squat
However, if you think you need an even tougher movement or only have access to lighter dumbbells, then simply perform a Bulgarian Split Squat, where you elevate your rear foot to place an even greater load on your forward leg. Do 3 sets on each leg (about 45 seconds rest between legs).
Exercise 5: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
To do the exercise, keep your planted leg relatively straight and bend over the hips while keeping a neutral back. Because this move is unilateral, you won’t need as much weight to load the muscles, says Ethier. And you will get more activation from your stabilizing muscles, like your medial glutes. Do 3 sets on each leg (about 45 seconds rest between legs).
Exercise 6: Lying Dumbbell Leg Curl
“This move further targets the hamstrings but with a knee flexion dominant movement instead,” says Ethier. “This is important to do since the short head of the biceps femoris, one of our hamstring muscles, crosses over the knee joint and can only be trained through knee flexion.”
You can do this move on the floor or a bench. Control the weight on the eccentric (downward) of each rep. Do 3 sets of 6 to 8 slow reps (90 seconds rest between sets).
Exercise 7: Copenhagen Adductor Bridge
“We’ll use something called an adductor bridge to end off this intense lower body workout with only dumbbells. This is especially important as strengthening the adductors greatly reduces the chance of groin injuries,” says Ethier.
To do them, use a bench or elevated platform. Get into a side plank position, with one leg bent on top of the support while the other leg hangs underneath. Then contract the adductors of your top leg to pull your body up, taking it slow and pausing at the top of each rep. Do 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps (30 seconds rest between legs).
Exercise 8: Dumbbell Goblet Squat
“Since our legs are already quite pre-fatigued from our previous exercises, we’ll be able to provide greater muscular fatigue to our legs with this exercise even though we’re using relatively lighter weight,” says Ethier. “Push hard and focus on accumulating volume for these, and feel free to take these sets to failure.” Do 1 to 3 sets to failure.
Source: Read Full Article