Adjustable Dumbbell Leg Workout for Lower Body Strength

Woman squatting with adjustable dumbbell

Creating a lower-body workout with just an adjustable dumbbell is a fantastic way to build strength, endurance, and flexibility while keeping your routine versatile and challenging.  

You often see lifters using dumbbells for upper-body training, but they’re just as valuable for your lower body, too. So, here’s a workout plan focused on the lower body -- utilizing drop sets to maximize muscle fatigue and endurance by continuing the exercise with a lighter weight once muscle failure is reached with the initial heavier weight.  

Note: Drop sets are not usually recommended for beginner lifters, due to risk of injury, overtraining, or improper form. Therefore, this workout is better suited for more experienced lifters.  

Not sure what weight to use? It’s smart to start with lighter weights and fewer sets, and as you progress, increase both the weight and the number of sets.  

Equipment Needed for Leg Day Drop Set 

All you need for this workout is an adjustable dumbbell. You may also want a bench or box, but you can improvise with a chair, bench, or stairs. 

REP offers three different adjustable dumbbells:  

REP Adjustable Dumbbell
  • Super simple, basic Adjustable Dumbbells. These are best for beginners, people on a budget, and people who have time to spare; switching up the weight takes some time, because you have to screw and unscrew the ends. Due to how long it takes to change the weight of these dumbbells, they're not the best for drop sets. These go up to 85lbs with the upgrade.  
    QuickDraw REP Adjustable Dumbbell
  • QuickDraw™ adjustable dumbbells. These are premium, incredibly fast to change weight, very secure and durable, and go up to a 60lb max. They are a top-tier option if you don’t need more than 60lbs per dumbbell.  
    85lb pair of REP x PÉPIN FAST Series Adjustable Dumbbells.
  • The REP x PÉPIN FAST Series Adjustable Dumbbells. These have been called perhaps the “best dumbbells in the world,” and for good reason. They can span 10-125lbs at just 18.3” long, have a fully metal construction with protective plastic liners, and are super quick to change with just the press of a magnetic pop-pin.  

Warm-Up for Adjustable Dumbbell Leg Day Workout (5-10 minutes) 

Leg day warm-up

Jog or march in place: 2 minutes 

Leg swings: 10 swings per leg, both front-to-back and side-to-side 

Bodyweight squats: 15 reps 


The Workout 

Adjustable Dumbbell goblet squats

Goblet Squats

How to: Hold a dumbbell vertically close to your chest with both hands. Squat down, keeping your back straight and chest up. Push through your heels to return to the start. 

Reps/Sets: Perform 10-12 reps, then immediately reduce the weight by 30-50% and perform as many reps as you can until failure. Aim for 2-3 drop sets. 

Total Sets: 3 


Bulgarian Split Squats

How to: Stand about two feet in front of a bench or step, with your back to it. Place one foot on the bench. Holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, lower into a split squat. Your front thigh should be almost parallel to the floor. Push up to start. 

Reps/Sets: After completing 8-10 reps on one leg, drop the weight by 30-50% and continue to do more reps until you can't maintain form (that’s failure; you don’t want to sacrifice proper positioning). Repeat on the other leg. 

Total Sets: 3 sets per leg 


Adjustable Dumbbell Deadlifts

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in front of each foot. Hinge at your hips to lower and grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip. Keep your back straight as you stand up with the dumbbells, then lower back down. 

Include drop sets similarly by performing your set of 10-12 reps, immediately lowering the weight, and performing more reps until failure. 

Total Sets: 2-3 drop sets, 3 total sets 



How to: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, step onto a bench or sturdy platform. Push through your heel to lift your body up, then step back down. 

Reps/Sets: 10 reps per leg, 3 sets 

Given the nature of this exercise and depending on your setup, it might be more challenging to perform effective drop sets here. Focus instead on maintaining a steady pace and proper form. 


Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

How to: Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, lifting your right leg slightly off the ground. Keeping your left knee slightly bent, hinge at the hips to lower the dumbbell toward the ground, raising your right leg behind you. Return to start and switch sides after completing all reps. 

After completing your 8-10 reps on one leg, lower the weight and perform additional reps until failure. Switch legs and repeat. 

Total Sets: 2-3 sets per leg with drop sets on each set 


Dumbbell Lunges

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Step forward with one leg and lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Push back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Perform your set of 8-10 reps per leg, then immediately reduce the weight and go to failure. 

Total Sets: 2-3 sets with drop sets included in each set 


Implementation Notes: 

Adjustable Dumbbell drop sets
  • Safety First: When performing drop sets, especially with exercises that require balance and stability like Bulgarian split squats and single-leg Romanian deadlifts, ensure your form doesn't suffer as you fatigue. It's better to stop than to continue with poor form. 
  • Adjust Weights Quickly: Make sure you can quickly adjust the weights on your dumbbells to minimize rest between the regular set and the drop set. The quicker you can switch, the more effective the drop set will be. The QuickDraw™ and REP X PEPIN™ dumbbells both switch super quickly and would be great options.  
  • Monitor Fatigue: Drop sets significantly increase the intensity of your workout, which can lead to greater muscle fatigue. If you're new to drop sets, you might want to start with adding them to just one or two exercises per workout to see how your body responds. 


Cooldown (5-10 minutes) 

Man stretching

A cooldown is an important part of your training. Here’s
why it is important to cooldown after exercise.  

Hamstring stretch: Sit on the ground and extend one leg out. Reach toward your foot. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs. 

Quad stretch: Stand and pull one foot toward your buttock, keeping your knees together. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs. 

Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall. Place one foot behind you, keeping it straight, and press the heel into the floor. Bend the front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg’s calf. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs. 

Remember, the key to effectiveness is proper form and consistency. Adjust the weights to match your current fitness level and goals, and increase gradually as you become stronger. Always consult with a fitness professional or physical therapist if you're unsure about the correct form or have existing health concerns.  

QuickDraw Adjustable Dumbbell

This workout plan is provided as a general guideline to improve fitness through exercises using an adjustable dumbbell. Before beginning any new exercise program, it is recommended that you consult with a physician or other healthcare provider. The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Exercise according to your own fitness level and capabilities. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider. Individual results may vary. The author and publisher of this plan disclaim any liabilities or loss in connection with the exercises and advice herein.