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The dumbbell leg workout that burns fat fast

Want a fast and effective dumbbell leg workout you can do at home that torches stubborn body fat and builds lean muscle? Then use my new fat-torching session to take a big step closer towards the lean, strong and defined body you’ve always wanted, says New Body Plan founder and Men’s Fitness cover model Jon Lipsey

I’ve designed this dumbbell leg workout to give you the biggest bang for your buck. That means it’s fast, fun and effective and will torch calories if you do it right. Scroll down for the full workout, but first here are the answers to your most common questions about the best way to train your legs with dumbbells, whether you’re at home or in the gym.

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How many exercises should you include in your dumbbell leg workout?

There’s no set number of exercises that you have to include in a dumbbell leg workout. The number of exercises you go for depends on your equipment, experience and training aims. You could get a good, quick workout with just two exercises. But the sweet spot is probably going to be around half a dozen different moves.

How many sets and reps should you do in a dumbbell leg workout?

Again, the number of sets and reps you select for your dumbbell workout depends on your kit and goals. Doing low rep sets will generally increase strength. The 8 to 12 rep range will focus on muscle growth. Higher than that moves towards endurance territory.

Using high-rep sets can, however, be useful for fat loss. Because when you do high rep sets you’re probably going to produce lactic acid and that has been associated with fat reduction. If you want to develop your all-round strength and fitness you probably want a mixture of rep ranges throughout the workout.

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How long should a dumbbell leg workout last?

If you’re using a high-intensity circuit format then your dumbbell leg workout doesn’t need to last for long. If you do a lot of work without much rest you can get a great fat-burning session in just 15 minutes. If you’re looking to build muscle your workout will probably last longer. Anything less than about 30 minutes might not give you enough time to get the result you want.

What’s the key to a good dumbbell leg workout?

The key to a good dumbbell leg workout is getting the exercise selection right. You want to choose a range of moves that target different muscle groups. You also need to use different movement patterns. This is something I’ve always done when creating my dumbbell transformation plans. The best workouts will include the squat movement, lunge movement and hip hinge movement. They also use a mix of single leg and double leg exercises.

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What weights do I need for a dumbbell leg workout?

Unless you are a complete beginner you probably want at least 10kg a side for a dumbbell leg workout. That will give you enough load to make the exercises challenging. If you’ve got less than ten kilos you can still do a good session. You might just have to be a bit smarter with how you manipulate the training variables.

For example, you may need to use a slow tempo, which is the speed at which you perform the exercise. That will increase the time that your muscles are exposed to tension and make the rep harder. You can also increase the number of reps you do and you can reduce rest periods.

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The best dumbbell leg workout

This is an example of a great dumbbell leg workout. It’s not the only good workout that you can do with a set of dumbbells. But it gives you an idea of how you can choose a range of moves with a mix of sets and reps.

1 Goblet squat

Sets 4 reps 10 Rest 60 seconds

How to perform the dumbbell goblet squat

• Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in both hands at the top of your chest.
• Tuck your elbows in to your sides to create a solid base for the weight.
• Simultaneously bend at the knees and hips to lower towards the floor.
• Keep your weight on your heels and midfoot and go as low as you can without compromising your form.
• Push back up through your heels and midfoot to return to the  start position

Why include the goblet squat in your dumbbell leg workout?

A goblet squat is a great way to start your dumbbell leg workout because it works your entire lower body. It also requires some upper body work – especially your abs – because you have to hold and stabilise the weight. For beginners, the position of the weight in front of your chest encourages you to keep your torso upright. Lots of beginners tend to collapse forward and round the torso, which can lead to lower back issues. The dumbbell goblet squat encourages you to get into a good position.

2A Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 10 seconds

How to perform the Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat

• Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand.
• Position a chair behind you and place one foot on the chair.
• Make sure your front foot is a good stride in front of the chair.
• Keeping your front shin vertical, simultaneously bend both knees to lower your back knee towards the floor.
• Push through your front foot to return to the start position.
• Do all the reps for the set on one side then swap sides.

Why include the Bulgarian split squat in your dumbbell leg workout?

The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise to include in a dumbbell workout for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a tough move so it will provide a real challenge even if you don’t have a heavy load. It is also an excellent test of balance and coordination. Because you do it on one leg it creates balanced strength and muscle growth.

2B Romanian deadlift

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60 seconds

How to perform the dumbbell Romanian deadlift

• Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand with your palms resting on your thighs.
• Unlock your knees and hinge at the hips to send the dumbbells down the front of your thighs.
• Go as low as you can until you feel a very strong stretch in your hamstrings.
• Make sure that your hands and the dumbbells are as close to your thighs as possible. Allowing the weight to move away from your legs will put stress on your lower back.|
• Reverse the movement back to the start and squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the move.

Why include the Romanian deadlift in your dumbbell leg workout?

I’ve done the Bulgarian split squat and Romanian deadlift as a superset. That means you do them back-to-back without rest. That’s a great tactic to use in your dumbbell leg workout  because it saves time and build intensity. The first move in the pair will target your quads while the Romanian deadlift works your hamstrings and glutes.

3A Side lunge

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 10 seconds

How to perform the dumbbell side lunge

• Stand tall holding a dumbbell to your chest as if you were about to perform a goblet squat.
• Instead of squatting down, take a big stride out to the side, making sure both feet face forwards.
• Bend the knee of your leading leg, going as low as you can, and push off that leg back to the start position.
• Repeat the move, lunging to the other side.
• Lunging to one side constitutes one rep.

Why include the side lunge in your dumbbell leg workout

When you’re creating a dumbbell leg workout, you should make sure you move in different directions. This sideways movement is particularly effective for targeting your glutes.

3B Dumbbell step-up

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60 seconds

How to perform the dumbbell step-up

• Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with a chair or bench positioned in front of you.
• Place one foot on the chair then push through that foot to stand up onto the chair.
• Step back down the way you came and repeat the exercise.
• You can either complete all your apps on one side then swap sides or you can alternate sides.

Why do the dumbbell step-up in your dumbbell leg workout?

This exercise gives you another chance to introduce a new movement pattern into a dumbbell leg workout. The one-sided nature of the exercise also gives you an extra core challenge. Just make sure you don’t drop back down to the start position. Your aim should be to maintain tension in the standing leg even on the way down.

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