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Grab your heaviest dumbbells twice a week. 50 Pound Barbell
If you’ve ever envied a celeb’s gorgeous gams—like Jessica Chastain's, Margot Robbie's, or Sofia Vergara's— first of all, you’re not alone. And you’re also in the right place: The routine below from personal trainer and Bells Up founder Lacee Lazoff, CPT, is designed to sculpt your legs fast. The best part? You’ll only need eight minutes and a pair of heavy dumbbells.
When it comes to working your legs, dumbbells can go a long way. For one thing, they’re versatile, Lazoff points out. You can use them at home or at the gym, she explains, adding that you might find them less intimidating than jumping on a weight machine or loading up a barbell. Plus, they’re good for lifting heavier, since you can find them in many sizes and they’re easy to hold onto.
Meet the expert: Lacee Lazoff, CPT, is the founder of Bells Up.
How do you know your dumbbells are heavy enough for you? Start with a weight that you feel like you could do six to eight reps with, she suggests. Then, ask yourself: Did you lift it well? How many reps do you have left in the tank?
Your answers help you determine the ideal weight. “Let’s say you could do 15 with that weight,” Lazoff says. “Then it might not be heavy enough for you for that movement.” On the other hand, she notes, if six reps is your absolute max, you probably want to go down a bit.
Ready to get going? Thought so. Below, the super-efficient heavy dumbbell leg workout, programmed by Lazoff and with step-by-step instructions for each exercise.
Time: 8 minutes | Equipment: Dumbbells | Good for: Legs
Instructions: Perform the following exercises in order for 30 seconds each, resting for 30 seconds between movements. For an 8-minute workout, complete two rounds of the circuit.
Pro tip: You can play with the number of rounds depending on how much time you have, Lazoff says. For strength, if you’re going heavy, she notes that the sweet spot is 3 to 5 rounds of a movement, but if you’re pressed for time you can stick to two rounds. For most people, working legs two days a week is great, according to Lazoff.
Why it rocks: “I love this for all different levels, especially with free weights, because a big part of squatting is managing your center of mass,” Lazoff says. You want to stay upright and keep your chest tall in a squat, she explains. Where the weights are held in this movement forces you into that position. She also loves that holding the weights up works your core.
What it works: Squats work your quads primarily, along with your hips, glutes, and inner thighs, according to Lazoff. Meanwhile, your core, back, arms, and shoulders are working to hold the weight, she adds.
Pro tip: For this one, Lazoff says you have the option to raise your heels on wedges while keeping the soles of your feet on the floor (and making sure your wedges are pointing the same direction as your toes). In fact, she says most people can benefit from doing so, since it will help you align your shoulders over your hips and target your quads a bit more.
Pro tip: Keep a strong connection to the inner sole of your foot and avoid letting your bodyweight roll to the outsides of your feet while deadlifting.
Why it’s awesome: The Romanian deadlift (RDL) targets the backs of your legs—basically, the opposite of what you’ll hit with the front racked squat, per Lazoff.
What it works: With this one, you’ll get your glutes and hamstrings, the trainer explains. Plus, she adds, holding the dumbbells works your back, arms, and core.
Bonus burn: Combine with a lateral lunge for more challenge. Alternate between a lateral lunge and curtsy lunge on the same side. Step out wide with your right foot and send your hips back and down like you're squatting as you bend your right knee.
Why it’s awesome: “I always love to add in lateral movement, because it’s one of the things people miss a lot in their sessions,” Lazoff says. And the combo is fun, she adds, because it makes your brain work a little bit, too.
Large Yoga Mat What it works: You’ll get your inner thighs, outer hips, and glutes, according to Lazoff.