Grab the nearest dumbbell and try these exercises for legs and bum – which can be done at home!
As a personal trainer who works exclusively with women I know how important having strong, defined legs can be. The glutes, quads and hamstrings are often of prime importance, alongside the abs. I love to get women to do barbell hip thrusts, barbell Romanian deadlifts and landmine squats. These exercises for legs and bum are ideal for those looking to strengthen and shapen.
Yet not all women have access to a barbell. Perhaps you work out at home with a few dumbbells. Well luckily there are plenty of exercises that you can do with a set of dumbbells.
Read more: 6 of the best at home workouts
Exercises for legs and bums
If you’re new to weights, then a great place to start with squats is the goblet squat. Not only is the goblet squat a far easier move to master, but it actually reinforces proper technique. Which will help if you decide to move to bringing barbell back squats into your routine. They’re a complex move which requires a lot of stability, mobility and technique.
The holding of the dumbbell with elbows ‘tucked in’ means the knees have to be pushed out; making it easier to get down low and engage the glutes (bum muscles).
Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
How to do a goblet squat
- Hold one dumbbell at chest level with your elbows tucked in and pointed towards the floor.
- Point your toes out at 30-45°.
- Putting pressure on your big toes, little toes and heel, lower your hips down to the level of your knees. Keeping your spine neutral throughout.
- Allow the knees to travel outside the elbows and follow the line of the toes.
Nothing hits the hamstrings like a Romanian deadlift. The first time you do these expect to have burning hamstrings for a week!
The great thing about doing Romanian deadlifts, as opposed to conventional deadlifts, is the fact they put less pressure on the back. With full deadlifts you are more likely to lift heavier, with improper technique. These are a great way to get the benefits without the risks.
Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
How to do a Romanian deadlifte
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, ‘hinge’ at the hips with a slight bend in the knees.
- Imagine there is a wall about a foot behind you, and you are trying to touch it with your bum.
- Roll the dumbbells down your legs as you hinge. Don’t let the DBs verve away from your legs, as this puts too much pressure on the low back.
- Keep your chest up so that you have a neutral spine throughout.
- Reach down as far as your hamstring flexibility will let you.
Read more: Try Philly McMahon’s core finisher
Do you have a long hallway? Then walking lunges could be perfect for you!
Lunges are fantastic for targeting the quads and glutes and don’t require heavy loads on your back.
Start with 3 sets of 8 reps on each leg.
How to do a walking lunge
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, take a large step to the front.
- Flex the knees and hips until your rear knee nearly hits the floor. The pressure should be exerted on the front foot.
- Keep your posture tight and mostly upright.
- Step off front foot to bring feet back to shoulder width. Repeat with opposite foot and continue to walk forward.
Dumbbell hip thrust
The hip thrust is the ultimate exercise for the booty. It engages the glutes like nothing else!
Although ideally you would use a barbell and bench for this exercise, the floor and a dumbbell can be used. This exercise can be done single legged if double legged is too easy (due to low weight of dumbbell).
Start with 3 sets of 10-12 reps
How to do a dumbbell hip thrust
- Lie on a mat or carpet.
- Bring your feet towards your bum so your knees are higher than your body.
- Have your feet and knees around hip width. Place a dumbbell across your hip.
- Drive into your heels so that you raise your hips up, and they form a straight line between your chest, hips and knees.
- Lower yourself back down and repeat.
Split squats are fantastic for those of you that find the weight of your dumbbells too easy for goblet squats.
As you are putting pressure on a single leg, it means you only need half of the weight. In addition you can hold a dumbbell in each hand for double the weight.
Start with 3 sets of 10-12 on each side
How to do split squats
- Take a large step out as if you were performing the first rep of a walking lunge.
- Bend at the knees and hips so that your back knee nearly touches the floor.
- Rather than pushing off your front foot to bring both feet in line, push ‘up’. This will leave you back at the step out position.
- Lower yourself back down and up to repeat.
- Change legs after your set number of reps are complete.
James Mc Dowell is a personal trainer that helps women to look and feel better so they become strong and confident. He does this through his in person and online programs. You can find out more at jamesmcdowell.ie