4 Dumbbell Exercises for Building Stronger Thighs

Thighs are one of the most dominant muscle groups in the body. If the human body were a tree, they would serve as our trunks. Just like actual tree trunks, our thighs are positioned as foundational support systems. For this reason, they can take a load– like a lot of load. This is actually beneficial and works to our advantage as athletes because we are able to provide them with enough resistance to break the muscle down which intern builds new muscle fibers that will grow bigger and stronger than before. In other words, we can force our thighs to get stronger by lifting heavier weights. 

In this scenario a barbell would be perfect for this kind of task, however in our last article “10 Best Leg Exercises of All Time”, we covered some great barbell exercises that will grow your thighs like actual trunks. So today, we will be covering 4 great dumbbell exercises that will help you build your thighs even stronger than they already are. 

As always, it is very important to mind your technique when performing any exercise, but especially when working with heavy dumbbells. This becomes a must when working in isolated movements like some of the ones that will be shared below. When going through these workouts, have your goals in mind and be mindful of your approach. Use slow, controlled reps focusing on your thigh muscles. Exercise control all the way down, even at the eccentric portion of the movement as this will increase the load safely, which is what we want. Remember to also wear flat-surfaced shoes if possible, to give you the best base for really engaging those thighs.

In the selection below, we will cover the exercises and how to perform each movement, along with the difficulty each one presents. To get the best out of these exercises, we advise that you choose a couple of them and rotate every three to four weeks for more variety. 

1.     Dumbbell Squats

Coming in at number one is the dumbbell squat. A versatile yet highly functional movement. This exercise is a great way to help perfect your squatting form, put on some serious muscle, or even build strength. The isolation caused by the top-load dispersal of the weights also helps strengthen the postural chain and neck. Holding up those heavy dumbbells can also help build other muscles in the arm due to stress. When performing this exercise, it might seem strange, especially if you are not used to training larger muscle groups with dumbbells. The movement could seem familiar, yet foreign at the same time. A lot of this is caused mainly because of the dumbbells. There is an additional need for balance when training with dumbbells that your muscles might not be accustomed to. This is actually a good thing because it can help reveal some muscular imbalances that you’ve never noticed. For this reason, it is recommended that you take your time and go slowly. You can lift heavy, but make sure you can handle the weight comfortably first. Dumbbells can be unforgiving if you make a mistake. 

To complete the movement, start with the dumbbells resting on each shoulder. Adjust your leg stance a little wider than shoulder-width apart, or however best comfortable. Begin by dropping your glutes downward while bending at the knees. Keep your back straight and refrain from leaning forward throughout the movement. Continue the motion until your knees reach about 90 degrees to your body, then explode up with the weights and repeat. 

Level of difficulty: Intermediate

Muscles worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core, Posterior chain

Equipment needed:  Dumbbells

2.     Dumbbell Lunges

This is perhaps the most popular dumbbell exercise in existence. It is very likely that you have actually tried this at some point at the gym or in your home. Lunges are great compact movements that can be done anywhere, with or without the extra resistance. Lunges provide a great workout and are good for rehabbing injuries, building athleticism, increasing cardiovascular strength, and building overall strength. 

To successfully complete a dumbbell lunge, either stand with the dumbbells resting on your shoulders or with your arms relaxed and the dumbbells resting at your side. Proceed to step one foot in front of the other (about 12 inches). Now, bend your rear leg until your knee touches the ground and the leg in front is at a 90-degree angle, with the bottom of your feet planted firmly into the ground. Stand up into the starting position, then alternate the movement with both legs. 

Level of difficulty: Beginner

Muscles worked: Quads

Equipment needed: Dumbbells

3.     Goblet Squats

Goblet squats are a favorite for many looking for a comfortable squat that targets most of the outer thigh and even the glutes. It is a centered load squat, meaning most of the weight is focused on the center of the body although it is done with a dumbbell. This makes goblet squats a great exercise for beginners and all expert levels because there is a lot less balance needed compared to other dumbbell exercises. 

To perform a goblet squat, stand in a normal squat position. Hold one dumbbell with both hands close to your chest. Begin by dropping your glutes downward as you would in a regular squat while bending at the knees. Keep your back straight and refrain from leaning forward throughout this movement. Continue the motion until your knees reach about 90 degrees to your body. Be sure to keep the dumbbell nice and high to your chest, and avoid the weight slipping. Explode up with the weights and repeat the movement.

Level of difficulty: Beginner

Muscles worked: Quads, Glutes, Core, posterior chain

Equipment needed: Dumbbell

4.     Overhead Squats

This exercise is an expert level movement and requires a lot of balance. When mastered, it is fun, challenging, and very effective. 

To begin, assume a regular squat position and have the dumbbells in both hands high above your head. With the dumbbells still in the air, slowly descend into a squat while maintaining a proper form. Decent until your knees are at 90 degrees, then rise back with the weight still in the air and repeat. 

 

Level of difficulty: Advanced

Muscles worked: Quads, Glutes, Core, posterior chain

Equipment needed: Dumbbells

 

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