A solid dumbbell leg workout doesn’t involve pumping out endless squats: You want a lower-body routine that includes all the major movement patterns.
“The main thing is, in a good leg workout, you want to have all the basic compound movements,” says ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, founder of Strong With Sivan in Baltimore, MD, tells SELF. tells SELF. “You want a hip hinge, a squatting pattern, a hip bridge pattern, and hip abduction.”
By incorporating these functional movement patterns into your leg workout, you’ll end up challenging muscles in the front of your lower body, like your quads, and in the back of your body, like your glutes and hamstrings. That makes it a comprehensive, intense lower-body workout.
But when we say intense, we don’t mean that you’ll be sweating all over the place. In fact, if you’re looking to get stronger (and maybe also build muscle), a leg workout that focuses on getting you sweaty isn’t going to be the best way to do it.
“If you’re focusing on speed, or doing as many reps as possible in a certain amount of time, and only taking a little bit of time to rest between sets, you’re not going to be able to lift as much weight, which is key to building strength,” says Fagan. “A workout that focuses on getting you as sweaty as possible or as fatigued as possible is not equal to an effective workout.”