Fitness

A Lower Body Dumbbell Workout to Fire Up Your Butt and Legs

If you want a really solid lower body dumbbell workout, making sure you’re including the major movement patterns is key to a balanced—and challenging—routine.

When talking about lower body workouts, you want to include variations of the squat, hip hinge, hip bridge/thrust, and hip abduction, Sivan Fagan, C.P.T., owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. This makes sure you hit all the major muscles of your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus, the largest muscle of your glutes. And thanks to the hip abduction movement pattern—which occurs when you move your leg away from the midline of your body—you’ll also work your gluteus minimus and gluteus medius, the smaller glute muscles that make up your side butt.

You also don’t need to go overboard by adding too many exercises to your workout. In fact, the lower body dumbbell workout Fagan created below includes just four moves, but because it hits all those major movement patterns, it’ll definitely challenge your muscles.

The lower body workout ramps up the intensity by focusing on unilateral, or single-leg moves, says Fagan. By working one leg at a time for the majority of these exercises, you’ll not only be doubling the amount of work time as compared to a bilateral variation (making the sets feel more intense), you’ll also be challenging each side of your body individually. That’s important, since one side may be weaker than the other, which you may not notice as much if you only do two-legged moves. By giving each leg the attention it deserves, you’ll be making sure all the muscles that should be working are actually working, and that one side is not taking over.

Because you’ll be using dumbbells for this workout, it’s easy to progress by adding more weight (or reps, or both) as you get more familiar with the moves, says Fagan. This concept of progressive overload is really important if you want to get stronger or build muscle. Of course, before you load up with heavier weight, or with any weight at all, you should make sure you have the form down for these moves.

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need for a super-challenging, unilateral-focused lower body dumbbell workout.

The Workout

What you need: A pair of moderate-weight dumbbells.

Exercises

Superset 1

  • Curtsy Lunge With Step Through
  • Kickstand Deadlift

Superset 2

  • Frog Pump With Hold
  • Side-Lying Leg Lift

Directions

  • For superset 1, complete 10–12 reps per side of each exercise, going from one to the next without resting. Rest for about 1 minute after each round. Complete 3–4 rounds total. Rest 1–2 minutes at the end of your last round.
  • For superset 2, complete 15–20 reps of each exercise (15–20 per side for the side-lying leg lifts), going from one to the next without rest. Rest for about 1 minute after each round. Complete 3–4 rounds total.

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