The Ultimate Dumbbell Workout For Quads and Glutes

Posted on: December 15, 2023 | Updated on: December 26, 2023 | Category: Lower Body, Workouts

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So you want to build stronger quads and glutes and you only have access to a few pair of dumbbells?

No problem! You won't have to make any sacrifices because the muscle growth you can achieve training glutes and quads with just dumbbells can be just as effective as with any other equipment, IF you choose the most efficient and effective exercises.

After doing this workout and then building on it, I can really see the difference in my butt muscles, meaning the shape of my butt looks a lot better! Couple that with good-looking quads, it’s really been a confidence booster for me. I've said this before and I'll mention it again - there’s nothing better than fitting in your gym shorts.

At the end of this article you’ll know all the effective glute and quad exercise moves with the proper technique so you can feel confident to go crush this dumbbell workout for quads and glutes. I’ll also show them in video form so you can get a visual.

I’ll also provide a free PDF so you can take this workout anywhere you want. If you find value in this workout, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, where you can get all of my form videos for free!

Featured Supplement For This Workout

1st Phorm Project-1 Pre-workout

The featured supplement for this workout is 1st Phorm Project-1 Pre-Workout! It’s the best pre-workout I’ve tried and many of my clients (men and women) feel the same way. It will provide the extra boost to get you through some of the tough moves that we’ll be doing for your quads and glutes.

The Purpose of This Workout

The main purpose of this workout is to strengthen, tone and sculpt two major muscle groups - the quads and the glutes. We all want a nice shaped booty, right? And, having sculpted quads is always a confidence booster!

We’ll do it in a way where we can plug these workouts in with the rest of your program. You could also use it as a stand alone workout routine, but if you’re really trying to build muscle, you will want to work more than two muscle groups in one workout.

The Importance of Strong Glutes and Quads

For me, having strong glutes sets the tone for the rest of my leg muscle groups. Without a strong butt, I always struggled with improving my squats and hang cleans. However, with a strong butt, I can reach higher squat numbers and I feel great with every-day movement like walking, running, jumping and stretching.

Having strong quads compliments having strong glutes - they work together like many of our major muscle groups do. Strong quads can improve your daily life movements. They can also help improve your power lift exercises, like squats, power cleans, hang cleans, and deadlifts.

Dumbbell Quads and Glutes Exercises With Technique

Below, you’ll find five exercises of each muscle group with the technique that I teach my clients. I’ll also include a short video clip of me performing the move.

Quad-Building Exercises:

Dumbbell Squat to Press (Thrusters):

How To Do The Dumbbell Squat To Press
  1. Start position is in the standing position in an athletic stance with good posture, knees slightly bent, feet just outside your hips, your weight balanced on the insteps of your feet and one dumbbell in each hand, holding the dumbbells at shoulder level.
  2. Squat down, get down in it and get to the parallel position with your back straight and your weight balanced on the insteps of your feet. Get your knees over your toes when you have reached the bottom squatted position.
  3. Rise up with force and explosion and breathe out as you press the dumbbells over your head with your arms slightly extended and under control.
  4. Bring the dumbbells back to shoulder level and repeat the squat exercise in one fluid motion.
  5. Maintain core strength throughout the exercise with a steady head.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Your sets and reps will depend on your goals. If you're a beginner, start with 3 sets and 10 reps.

What Makes It Effective:

This dumbbell squat to press exercise allows you to simultaneously build muscular strength in the quads and glutes, enhance cardiovascular endurance, and improve overall functional fitness through a dynamic, compound exercise.

Bulgarian Split Squats with Dumbbells:

How To Do The Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squats
  1. Start position is in the standing position with one foot on the floor and the back of the other foot resting on a bench, plyo box or another sturdy, safe object. Your planted foot that is on the floor should be about 1-2 feet away from the bench, depending on your body type. The main thing is when you squat down you want to have your knees over your toes. Hold the dumbbells on the side of your body.
  2. Squat down in a lunge-type of movement. Keep your knee over your toes and squat down until the off, rested leg's knee gets close to the ground.
  3. Maintain balance and stability by engaging your core, glute and quad muscles. Your weight should be down the middle of your foot as if you were putting a pole right down the center of your knee to the middle of your foot.
  4. Rise up with explosion until your planted foot's knee is slightly bent, returning to the starting position.
  5. Repeat and switch sides.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Your sets and reps will depend on your goals. If you're a beginner, start with 3 sets and 8 reps on each leg.

What Makes It Effective:

The Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat is effective because it provides a deep, unilateral leg workout that targets key lower body muscles, improves balance and stability, and corrects muscular imbalances, all with adaptable resistance for varied fitness levels.

Dumbbell Step-Ups:

How To Do The Dumbbell Step Ups
  1. Start position is in an athletic, explosive stance, a few inches behind your plyo box or bench. Hold the dumbbells on your side with a firm grip.
  2. Take your first step onto the plyo box or bench, use your whole foot surface, but keeping your balance down the middle of your foot for maximum explosion.
  3. Step up and drive your off leg up, getting your knee to your chest in an explosive movement while also keeping your balance. Keep your head steady, core engaged and use your quad and glute muscles to explode through the knee drive.
  4. Step back down with your off leg, to get back to the starting position. Land with confidence, poise and strength to ensure proper technique throughout the exercise.
  5. Alternate each leg and repeat the exercise move.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Your sets and reps will depend on your goals. Beginners should start with 3 sets of 8 reps with each leg.

What Makes It Effective:

Dumbbell Step-Ups are particularly effective for quads and glutes because they require these muscles to perform the primary movements of stepping up and lowering down, thereby providing focused strength building and toning for both muscle groups.

Dumbbell Lateral Lunges:

How To Do The Dumbbell Lateral Lunges
  1. Start position is with your feet well-outside your hips and holding one dumbbell with both hands underneath the dumbbell for maximum support and safety. your knees should be slightly bent and you should be in an athletic, explosive position.
  2. Shift your weight to the right with the goal of putting around 85% of your weight on your right leg with your knee bent and over your toe. Keep the weight on your instep and work the inner quad muscle. Avoid putting your weight on the outside of your foot as this can lead to knee injuries. Always keep your weight on the inside of your legs.
  3. Lunge back with explosion by using your medial quadriceps and gluteus medius muscles to get back to the starting position, then transition to the other leg in one fluid motion.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Your sets and reps will depend on your goals. Beginners should start with 3 sets of 8 reps with each leg.

What Makes It Effective:

Dumbbell Lateral Lunges are effective for quads and glutes because they involve lateral movement that targets these muscles from a different angle, engaging the quads during the descent and utilizing the glutes for stability and to power the push back to the starting position, providing a comprehensive lower body workout. This specific exercise move targets the medial quadriceps and the gluteus medius muscles.

Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts:

  • Stand on one leg, holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand.
  • Hinge at hips, lower dumbbell towards the ground.
  • Keep back straight, raised leg in line with body.

Glute-Strengthening Exercises:

Dumbbell Hip Thrusts:

How To Do The Dumbbell Hip Thrusts

You'll need a bench or plyo box to brace your self for this glute muscle building move.

  1. Start position is to get your upper back against a bench or a stable surface and both feet on the gym floor just outside your hips, with your butt and hips down. Rest the dumbbells by your pelvic sides.
  2. Lift your hips, engage your core and push through your heels to lift your hips upward until you can feel a squeeze in your glutes. Squeeze your glutes for 1-2 seconds. Avoid using your back or any other muscle group besides the core to perform this movement. You should only use your glutes, hamstrings and core.
  3. Lower back down to the starting position and keep your tension on your glutes, hamstrings and core.
  4. Repeat until you reach your desired repetitions.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Beginners should start with lighter weight such as 15-30 pound dumbbells, while seasoned vets should use upwards of 80-100 pound dumbbells.

What Makes It Effective:

Dumbbell Hip Thrusts are a fantastic exercise for targeting the glutes and also engage the hamstrings and core. They're particularly effective for building strength and improving the shape of the glutes. The hip thrust works the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minumus muscles, as well as the hamstrings, hip abductors, hip flexors quads and core.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge with Dumbbell:

How To Do The Dumbbell Single-Leg Glute Bridge
  1. Start position is lying on the gym floor with your knees bent. Take one dumbbell and rest it on the pelvic area. One foot should be flat on the floor while the other leg is up (you can straighten it out or have it slightly bent).
  2. Push through the heel of your foot that is flat on the ground in an upward, explosive movement that lifts your hips off the ground.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, ensuring the lifting power comes from your hips and not your lower back.
  4. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position with control and strength. Repeat the movement for the amount of reps you are doing, then switch legs.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Since this is one leg at a time, it will be more challenging to do, so lower your weight and focus on your technique.

What Makes It Effective:

This exercise effectively targets the glutes on each leg individually, helping to strengthen and tone them, while also engaging your core and improving balance. This move works the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus muscles.

Dumbbell Sumo Squats:

How To Do The Dumbbell Sumo Squats
  1. Start position is to place your feet in a sumo position, which should be to get your feet well-outside your hips with your knees slightly bent. Rest the dumbbells on your shoulders, have a nice, vertical back alignment, your chest out, core engaged and your head up right. Your toes can slightly point out.
  2. Begin the squat movement and get your hips down in it as if you were going to sit in a chair. Go as low as you can go while maintaining proper form. Try to get your thighs parallel to the floor. Your knees should be over your toes as you reach the bottom of your sumo squat.
  3. Explode up using your quads and glutes while engaging your core to maintain excellent posture throughout the move. Get back to the starting point with your knees slightly bent (not extended).
  4. Repeat the move until you reach your reps.

Rest 60 seconds in between reps. Beginners should start with lower dumbbell weights between 15-35 pounds. Vets should challenge themselves and use heavier dumbbells between 40-60 pounds.

What Makes It Effective:

Dumbbell Sumo Squats are excellent for targeting the inner thighs, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and even engaging the core. The wider stance and toe position allow for a deeper squat, providing a more intense workout for the inner thigh muscles compared to traditional squats.

Dumbbell Deadlifts:

How To Do The Dumbbell Deadlifts
  1. Start position is to get your feet wider than your hips with the dumbbells on the ground right underneath your body. Maintain excellent posture with a flat back, chest out and head up.
  2. In a squatted position with your knees over your toes, grab the dumbbells and rise up with explosion, engaging your quads, glutes and hamstring muscles until you reach the top with slightly bent knees.
  3. Slowly bring the dumbbells back to the ground. Repeat the move.

60 seconds is a good resting time, however, if you're a beginner you may need more time to rest with this explosive quads and glutes move. Beginners should also start with lower dumbbell weights (10-30 pounds), while more advanced lifters can really challenge themselves using dumbbells between 40-90 pounds).

What Makes It Effective:

Dumbbell Deadlifts are a great exercise for targeting the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core. They are effective for building lower body strength and improving overall posterior chain functionality.

Dumbbell Curtsy Lunges:

How To Do The Dumbbell Curtsy Lunges
  1. Start position is in a standing position with your feet slightly outside your hips for a good starting base. Hold the dumbbells at your sides. Focus on good posture with your chest up, core engaged and head up. Your knees should be slightly bent.
  2. Shift your weight to one leg. Then, step the other leg diagonally behind you, crossing it behind your standing leg. Lower your body down by bending both knees, creating a curtsy-like motion. Make sure that your knee is over your toe - this ensures proper safety.
  3. Continue lowering until your front thigh is parallel to the floor, and your back knee is close to touching the ground. Keep your upper body as upright as possible. Explode up out of it engaging your inner quads and the gluteus medius.
  4. Return to starting position and alternate sides with each rep in a fluid motion.

60 seconds is a good resting time, however, if you're a beginner you may need more time to rest with this explosive quads and glutes move. Beginners should also start with lower dumbbell weights (10-30 pounds), while more advanced lifters can really challenge themselves using dumbbells between 40-90 pounds).

What Makes It Effective:

Dumbbell Curtsy Lunges are effective for targeting the glutes, especially the gluteus medius, as well as the inner thighs and quads. They add a nice variation to standard lunges by incorporating lateral movement, which helps in developing balance and coordination.

Coaching Tips:

  • Ensure proper form to maximize benefits and minimize injury risk.
  • Adjust the weight of the dumbbells according to your comfort and strength level.
  • Focus on controlled movements and muscle engagement.
  • When in a squat or lunge position, be sure to keep your knees over your toes. This prevents injury and promotes explosiveness.

4-Week Program - Dumbbell Only Quads and Glutes

This is my 4-week program that mixes quad and glute exercises for a balanced approach. This program will enhance strength, endurance, and muscle tone by progressively increasing intensity.

Week 1: Building the Foundation

Frequency: 3 workouts per week (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, Friday)

Routine: 2 sets x 10 reps for each exercise. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

Exercises:

  • Dumbbell Squat to Press (Thrusters)
  • Dumbbell Hip Thrusts
  • Bulgarian Split Squats with Dumbbells
  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge with Dumbbell
  • Dumbbell Step-Ups

Week 2: Increasing Endurance

Frequency: 3 workouts per week

Routine: 3 sets x 12 reps for each exercise. Rest for 45-60 seconds between sets.

Exercises:

  • Dumbbell Lateral Lunges
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Dumbbell Sumo Squats
  • Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Dumbbell Curtsy Lunges

Week 3: Boosting Intensity

Frequency: 4 workouts per week (e.g., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Routine: 3 sets x 10 reps, increase the dumbbell weight.

Exercises:

  • Dumbbell Squat to Press (Thrusters)
  • Dumbbell Hip Thrusts
  • Bulgarian Split Squats with Dumbbells
  • Dumbbell Step-Ups
  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge with Dumbbell

Week 4: Maximizing Strength

Frequency: 4 workouts per week

Routine: 4 sets x 6-8 reps with heavier weights. Focus on slow, controlled movements.

Exercises:

  • Dumbbell Lateral Lunges
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Dumbbell Sumo Squats
  • Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Dumbbell Curtsy Lunges

Completely Free! No Email Required. Just click the button below to download the 4-week PDF dumbbell workout for quads and glutes.

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About the Author Alex Smith, CSCS

A former NCAA college football coach, an ACE Fitness NCAA Accredited Certification in Strength & Conditioning, Alex uses his expertise to create workouts focusing on strength, training focusing on speed, agility and skill, and motivation to help you crush your goals. He's here to help you get results! When he's not working out, he enjoys spending time with his two kiddos and playing golf.

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