8 Dumbbell Quad Exercises For a Lower Body Workout

Growing your quads can be challenging both physically and mentally as a lot of the exercises are some of the most difficult you can do in the gym. That being said, only having access to dumbbells shouldn’t be something that holds you back as there are so many dumbbell variations that can be used to train the quads.

4 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
Last updated
Lower Body
Lower Body
Lower Body
Lower Body
Lower Body

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Lower Body
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In This Resource
  • Benefits of Dumbbell Quad Exercises
  • Aesthetics
  • Athletic Performance
  • Improve Daily Function
  • Unilateral Training
  • Training Considerations
  • Hypertrophy (Build Muscle)
  • Increase Strength
  • Range of Motion
  • Anatomy of The Quads
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Sample Hamstring and Quad Dumbbell Bi-Set

Benefits of Dumbbell Quad Exercises


One of the main reasons a great deal of people are willing to do such difficult exercises for high volume is the amount they will improve aesthetics, for those who strive to compete in body building this will drastically improve their performance.

Athletic Performance

Athletes need to be fast in a lot of sports, hence why effectively training the quadriceps will be very important for these individuals. Yes speed training is often done through jumps and plyometrics, but that being said, the general anatomy of a sprinter includes having extremely large quadriceps. Athletes looking to create a long term plan to increase their speed may want to consider using some quadricep hypertrophy before shifting towards a traditional speed based training program.

Improve Daily Function

For the general population have strong and endurant quadriceps will be of great help as they are used in so much of our daily function. Having strong legs is also a huge preventer of falls which can be serious health risks for those in their later years.

Unilateral Training

A lot of the variations in this list are unilateral exercises, they are excellent for working on muscular imbalances and isolating muscle groups at the same time. They also put a great deal of emphasis on balance and stability which can be beneficial for both athletes and the general population.

Training Considerations

Hypertrophy (Build Muscle)

Although dumbbell quad exercises are not the most effective exercises for increasing the muscle mass of the quads, that doesn’t mean they cant be used to great effect for this goal. If your looking to increase muscle mass in the quads you will want to be performing between 8-12 working sets per week.

Increase Strength

Increasing the strength of a muscle can be more challenging with a dumbbell than with a barbell, just because holding a heavy weight in the hands can be a huge limiting factor. This means for advanced lifters these exercise will be hard to increase top level strength, but for beginners and more beginner intermediate lifters they can be used to increase strength in the quads.

Range of Motion

Using a full range of motion on these movement will make them very challenging mentally. Rear foot elevated split squats are in a different ball park to dumbbell bench press, so mentally it can be hard to use a full range of motion. It’s important to try and keep quality of movement high throughout and use the full range of motion even if it is mentally taxing.

Anatomy of The Quads

The quadriceps are a large bundle of four different muscle, the main function of the quadriceps is knee extension. This is why all the muscle that work the quadriceps with dumbbells are squatting movement as knee flexion is required.

Rectus Femoris

The rectus femoris was aptly named as it runs straight down the thigh and rectus is latin for straight. It crosses both the knee and the hip joint, its primary role is to extend the knee and secondarily it helps the Iliopsoas in hip flexion.

Vastus Lateralis

Located on the lateral side of the thigh, it is the largest muscle of the quadricep group. The main function of the vastus lateralis is extension of the knee.

Vastus Medialis

This is the muscle of the quadricep that in located at the inner thigh and it acts with the other muscle of the quads to extend the knee.

Vastus Intermedius

Finally this is the muscle in the middle of the thigh underneath the rectus femoris. This muscles function is knee extension.

Sample Hamstring and Quad Dumbbell Bi-Set

Complete 4 rounds

1. Rear Foot Elevated DB Squat in Lunge

Complete 8 repetitions

2. DB Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift with Wall Support

Complete 12 repetitions

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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


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